Frequent Library Visitor And Program Instructor To Return To Home In Japan

by Paula McKibben   Just before Ayane Hida left Japan for the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay as part of the Japanese Outreach Initiative (JOI), her grandmother said, “You will die,” if you go to America. Her grandmother had never left the island of Japan and was scared for her granddaughter. Besides, it was not as though her grandmother didn’t have a good reason to fear for her: Ayane had just been the victim of a scooter accident in Japan which cost her her right eye and mangled her left leg, both together requiring six surgeries.
   But, had she decided not to come to the United States, many people would be the poorer for her absence, especially the patrons of the Bluffton Public Library. Lauren Canaday, who coordinated Ayane’s visits to the library, says of her, “She is professional, personable, endearing, and works well with individuals of all ages.  She had a positive impact on this library and community, and she will be missed!” 
   Ayane came to the Mazza and Bluffton from Kyoto, Japan. According to Ayane, the stereotype of a Kyoto girl is that of a quiet, humble girl. People from Japan often doubt that she is really from Kyoto because she is such an extrovert who says, “Don’t be afraid of getting outside your territory.” She began to live her dream of working in America two years ago and was the only JOI participant to be assigned to a museum, her title being Japanese Outreach Coordinator. According to mazzamuseum.org, her job was “to incorporate Japanese cultural lessons into events such as the museum’s Funday Sunday programs, and at regional schools.”
   While here, she has visited 16 states and has made a trip to Toronto, all on her own, with the exception of California, which she visited with her brother when he came to see her. Other stops included the Grand Canyon in Arizona and a lake in Indiana that reminded her of the lake in the novel, “The Notebook.”
   However, after a brief trip home for a friend’s wedding in April, she is ready to return to Japan on Aug. 8 to see her friends, to see her dog and to eat real sushi. Her friends have planned a list of 20 things they will do together when she gets home.
   At home, she still doesn’t know what she wants to do. She’s hoping to do something in international education.  However, she can’t sign up for JOI again for at least two more years. While here, she presented programs in over 50 places, the Bluffton Public Library being one of those. She presented six programs at the library: Japanese Culture: Language and Calligraphy; Japanese Culture: Sushi Rolling Workshop; Japanese Fans Craft; Japanese Art Gallery and Storytime; Craft, Culture and Cuisine: Japan; and Send-Off Party. When she came to a going away party hosted by Canaday, with whom she worked closely in Bluffton at the library, she brought gifts for everyone in attendance.
   While here, she has checked off several items from her bucket list, which she created after her accident: climbing the Statue of Liberty, visiting the Grand Canyon, getting her picture next to the Hollywood sign, swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii and being on Japanese TV.
   She was hoping to see the Aurora Borealis while here, as well as ride a horse, but those things haven’t happened – yet. She still has until Aug. 8, and with her energy and enthusiasm, she could still make them happen.