I have to admit, when I first started reading about Nori and his trip to Iraq, I thought of him on a completely different level than I think about any of my classmates or friends–I saw him as more of a generic hero-type and not really an individual person. However, I feel that his visit to class allowed me to realize that he is really just a normal student – he can be shy or reserved like anyone else, he has concerns and is affected by what other people say; he really just wants to be “normal.” And, while I think it’s important to learn from his experiences in Iraq, I also feel that it is necessary to allow him to reclaim the self he was before his experiences in April 2004.
This brings me to his talk yesterday evening–I really enjoyed Norma Field’s introduction to the lecture and how she really brought to light the fact that it is a global affair for such heavy topics to be discussed. She also called Nori’s return to Japan “one of the threshold moments in post-war Japanese history,” which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I was grossly surprised to hear how Nori’s return was received in Japan–I mean, if an American citizen came home after being held captive for nine days, he would be revered…or at least welcomed happily. I still find it difficult to understand that people wanted to blame him for wasting tax money, mainly because as Nori said, this draws attention to him and away from his real concern, DU weapons. His concern for a socio-political issue reminds me of students at the U of C in that they are extremely driven and aware of what’s going on beyond their own town or campus–however, it’s a shame that he didn’t get the support he deserved (and still deserves) for his efforts.
Another thing I thought was interesting was the way in which Nori said being in America made him want to repress his memories of Iraq less. Maybe it’s because students and people here in Chicago do not feel he caused anyone the “inconvenience of anxiety,” or maybe it’s just because he was able to talk about his experiences in his own voice, at his own pace. I’m glad to know that he feels comfortable here, but I still wish he found that same comfort in Japan. On the whole, though, it is great to see that he is beginning to remove himself from the criticism and focus more on those who support him and his activism against DU weapons.
I hope Nori is able to gain more support from people in Japan, and also globally…because like he said, it is not just the responsibility of America to overcome DU issues. Additionally, I think it might be difficult for people to not think of him as a hero in some way (I know that’s what I still see him as), but I hope he will be able to recover himself fully and find comfort in those who recognize him as an actual person.
Overall, class and the lecture were a fantastic experience–thank you for the opportunity!