Off to Japan (take 2)

Wed 17 Oct:

As you may know, it has been pretty busy around here since the summer. In addition to 9-day electives in July and August, I was in AK in Sept followed by courses in VA, NY and now, Japan. In the middle of this, I have had my usual hospital shifts. Dharmasuri and I have also found the time to buy a 3 story building in Portland, in part to help house Nagaloka. If you follow her on facebook you will read more about that venture. I will focus on my stuff.

Last week, we completed our second Battlefield Medical Responder course (BMR) for 24 conflict-zone correspondents. We apparently learned something from the first one because this latest iteration represented a notable upgrade. The course was as equally satisfying as the first. I am not sure that students from other courses appreciate the immediacy and potential relevance of our training like those in the BMR. After the course wrapped up, I hung around our classroom at the Bronx Documentary Center for a few hours to watch films produced by some of our students. They included one on refugees in Sudan, children commandeered into military service in W Africa, and police operations to clean up the favelas in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and summer Olympics in 2016. All of them were really powerful; all done without any seed money.

I returned home early Sat AM and was on a plane for Japan about 24 hours later. This is my second visit in 9 months. This course is again focused for doctors (8), paramedics (6) and nurses (6). In addition 4 of the students from the earlier course are returning for a refresher. We gained a good reputation with these professionals in January so there is a lot of enthusiasm for the course. 4 have traveled from the N of Japan where the earthquake and resulting tsunami (up to 40 meter/130+ ft) devastated the landscape. Here is a link to one of many videos posted online.

I arrived in Tokyo Monday evening, greeted by warm weather and Tues, by crystalline blue skies. Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Gotenbashi in Shizuokaken prefecture. This city is near the base of Mt Fuji. Shrouded in clouds on our arrival, it appeared out of the mist just before sunset. Like Mt Ranier near Seattle, Fuji dominates the view toward the NW. This morning, in an otherwise cloudless sky, it was haloed by a small, donut-shaped tuft of clouds. As tranquil as it appears, it last erupted 303 years ago and is overdue for another.

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