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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

“One Chance. One Encounter.”

***This week the National FFA Officer will be blogging from Japan, where they are learning about Japanese culture and international agriculture.***

Our first day in Japan was definitely jam packed with culturing and new
experiences. My favorite was the Tea Ceremony with our soft-spoken friend,
Ukiko. One of the final steps to the tea ceremony was to pass around the dishes
and utensils used to make the tea. As she sent them around for us all to admire,
she explained the meaning behind each one. “The tea scoop I chose for today’s
ceremony has very special meaning for all of us. I chose it because I hope it
is how you will see your time in Japan…“One chance. One encounter.” ”

“One chance. One encounter.” At that moment, our time in Japan became so much
more real to me. Here we are in this beautiful country, so rich in tradition and
culture, with such amazing people. And we will only be able to have this
experience once. This exact moment and the moments to come for the rest of the
week will never be replicated. I felt an overwhelming appreciation for this
experience and the people we were able to share it with.

Day 2. My appreciation for our time in Japan only grew as we had some truly
amazing experiences. The day began with a journey to the Embassy of the United
States of America, Office of Agricultural Affairs. Here we met with
Agricultural Minister-Counselor, Geoffrey Wiggin; Deputy Chief of Mission, James
Zumwalt; Agricultural Attaches, Jennifer Clever and Stephen Wixom; and APHIS
Senior Attache, Kelly Preston. While at the Embassy we were able to see the
American perspective of agriculture and trade relations with Japan. We learned
that in many ways Japanese and American agriculture are similar…concerns of the
increasing age of the average farmer, consumer satisfaction and education, and
an interest in global agriculture.

As the day continued we headed to Mitsui & Co., LTD. At Mitsui we enjoyed
presentations by their young staff members that taught us about the different
sections of their company: Oilseeds & Oils Division, Retail Business Division,
and Agri-Food Business and Strategic Planning Department were just a couple.
These presentations allowed us to see the Japanese perspective on agriculture.
We also saw a video on sushi making and then we headed to a reception to eat the
real deal. At the reception we got to try out our Japanese speaking skills when
we introduced ourselves… “Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Tiffany Rogers des…” And
even though we may have stumbled through a few words, they were so excited that
we were even trying. During the reception we were able to spend time with more
of Mitsui’s young staff members. They recommended what sushi we should eat,
told us Japanese jokes, taught us more phrases in Japanese, and even led us in a
chorus of “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”! It was great to be able to spend
time at Mitsui and thank them for their partnership and sponsorship of our time
here. This trip marks 32 years of Mitsui sponsoring the National FFA Officer
team visit to Japan…and for that we wish to extend the warmest thank you!

The people we were able to meet and the experiences we were able to have on day
2 of our trip to Japan just made it all the more real that our time here really
holds true to that lesson in the Tea Ceremony… “One chance. One encounter.”

-Tiffany Rogers on behalf of the 2010-2011 National FFA Officer Team


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