Sunday, December 11, 2005

Memoirs of a Geisha On-Line Book Discussion Group

This is the letter that is being sent out to my school community. I invite anyone I know, or those of you I don't know who stumble across this website, to join in on my project. Please contact me before the end of January and you can participate in my on-line discussion group! Thanks!



Dear Perry Community,

In October of this year the Japanese Fulbright Memorial Fund program gave me the amazing opportunity to travel to Japan for three weeks. You may read about my trip at my site: http://missalpinejapan.blogspot.com. In order to participate on the trip, I had to design several projects that would incorporate my school and the community. I am inviting you to be a part of my Fulbright follow-on plan.

I have created an on-line book discussion group through Blackboard that will connect book lovers from all over the United States. We will be reading one of my favorite books, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This book, set during the 1930’s and 40’s, chronicles the rise of Sayuri from a poor orphan girl in a fishing village to one of the most powerful geishas in Japan. It is an amazing story that is not only rich in character and plot, but gives you a sense of Japanese culture and the art of a geisha.

The majority of the discussion group will be held on Blackboard. You will receive a login and password (and instruction if necessary to navigate this site), enrolling you into the class. All you need to connect is Internet access from a computer. We will have live chats approximately once a week and a discussion board to share our thoughts as we read the book together. For those who live near Perry, Ohio, we will meet every two weeks in person to talk about the book. You will have the opportunity to view videos and learn more about the geisha community, background on Japan and the lifestyle of the country now. We will look at artifacts from the country and explore a culture that is different from our own, but contains a heritage rich in tradition and majesty.

The discussion group will start the first week in February. We will spend two months discovering this book together. The group will include high school students, educators, community members and book lovers from all over the United States! Please consider being a part of this unique project!

Anyone is welcome, please contact me at alpiner@perry-lake.k12.oh.us if you have any questions or are interested in embarking on this journey with us! I look forward to reading with you!


Sincerely,

Rachele Alpine
PHS Language Arts Department

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Simply stated...thank you

I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has supported me throughout my Fulbright trip. It has truly been an amazing journey.

I often reflect on a statement by Aersosmith that says, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”


I truly believe that and this has just been one of the incredible steps on my journey.

I can only imagine where might life might lead me next!


Thank you all for being a part of this…
Rachele Alpine

Friday, October 28, 2005

Home Sweet Home...

Ah….home sweet home! I have come to the end of my journey and I am exhausted (and a little bit sad!). The trip home was a killer and I think it is going to take a few days to recover. I figure it’s not such a big deal since I have over 1200 pictures to download! Geez!

October 27 has now been named the day that lasted FOREVER! I got up early to get my bags packed all the way and ready to go. Of course, I lost the luggage tags on my suitcases and had to run through the huge hotel to get new ones before our 9:30 luggage pick-up. I made it back at 9:25 so I didn’t have to bring my luggage to the airport myself. Nice! It’s a good thing, too, because my bags were packed!

I met everyone downstairs and headed to breakfast with my friends: Amy, Heather, Janet, Ryan, Dave and Luke. We spent a long time at breakfast because I think we realized we were leaving and wanted to spend as much time as possible with each other. We ate at the Western/Japanese style breakfast and I have to admit that I had rice (who can resist! I love it!). We closed the place down, finally they told us we needed to leave. I said goodbye to most of my new friends since they were leaving on early flights.

Amy, Dave and I (the Ohionese- our cheesy nickname) had the four fifty-five flight. This is the crazy part of it, we were leaving at this time on the 27th, but because of the time zones, we would arrive in Chicago at 3:25….early then when we left! I was traveling back in time! We boarded our bus and headed to the airport around noon (nothing like leaving early to make sure we made it on time!). I slept a little bit and woke up to a delightful photo shoot by Amy or me sleeping with my mouth open. Blah! We all stopped at a rest stop because two other Fulbright buses had gone before us and we were jamming up the airport. Dave, Amy and I each bought a Japanese snack and ate them one last time.

We got our bags at the airport (I’m so spoiled with all this bag delivery!), and I prayed that I wouldn’t have to pay a lot for my overweight bag. Guess what???? I was under! No fair! I would have bought more! Ha! We all went through immigration and waited to board our flight. The three of us found a place that sold American food so we ate there and Amy and I poured over the gossip magazines. We “borrowed” People and US Weekly, since they were imported and cost ten dollars each! We caught up on our gossip (poor Nick and Jessica) and the world was well again.

I wasn’t too thrilled to board the plane, but I prepared myself for the journey. This time the flight was about twelve hours long. We were flying to Chicago, but it was faster b/c of the jet stream. I stayed up and watched Mr. And Mrs. Smith (I did enjoy it, Kathleen) and read and slept for the rest of the trip. I ate lots of junk food, felt really gross and was so happy when we touched down in Chicago! Amy and I almost missed our flight to Cleveland b/c customs took awhile and we had to go to the other side of the airport, but we made it and I was soon HOME!!!!!!!!

My family picked me up, I said a quick hello and then I went home and crashed for a long long time. I woke up at three the next day…shoot! This was a long journey, but it was one of the best of my life!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Farewell Banquet

Prom Photo before the big dinner! I'm not quite sure why we're leaning in!?



Katsuyama group shot...




Ryoken group shot...

Another ryoken group shot...


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Last Day...

I woke up today a little sad. I can’t believe this is my last full day in Tokyo. While I am definitely ready to go home, I am going to miss all these people and the amazing journey that I have gone on here. I met Dave, Amy, Ryan, Janet and Luke downstairs at the American/Japanese buffet. I can’t resist those pancakes! We are a quick breakfast and talked about the presentations that day. My group as going towards the end, so I would be able to watch pretty much everyone before we went.

I was excited to see our guide, Aiko, at the presentations! I hadn’t really gotten to say goodbye to her, so this was my chance. The presentations were great (some got a little long because groups were showing ALL their pictures, and I do mean all!), but it was good to see everyone’s adventures. We had lunch in the fancy reception hall again and then I ran with Amy, Dawn, Heather and Anthonette to the Starbucks down the street so we would have some energy for the afternoon. Yes, I know, more Starbucks! I just can’t be away from it! We grabbed our drinks (after getting mildly lost…you’d think my Starbucks radar would have helped us!), and made it back just in time for the last of the presentations.

We were having out last reception that night, The Farewell Banquet. We all dressed up nicely and met before we left and took pictures. How dorky! I felt like we were going to prom our something! It was another dinner where you stand at the little tables and eat. Everything looked and smelled so good! We took a million more pictures, listened to the Fulbright speakers congratulate us and feasted on great great food! Amy and I kept going back to get the seafood. They were sautéing scallops, mussels and clams in a wine sauce. We probably ate six or seven plates between the two of us. Everyone was in a great mood but a little sad to be leaving. I couldn’t believe the time was almost over. Fulbright brought in Judo masters and we watched them perform. After dinner, my group of friends and I decided to go to the restaurant/bar on the top floor (fortieth) of the building. The view was amazing! It was circular and you could see all around Tokyo. We stayed there for awhile talking about our trip and what we would miss. We ended up staying up almost all night just talking and trying to prolong the next day.

I honestly didn’t think that I would make the friendships that I did on this trip. Not only did I learn a lot about a new country, but I also made some great friends from my own country!