Feeling Thankful | #2

It is hard to believe that I have already been at my internship for two weeks! Time seems to fly by here. While each day brings something new, this is what a typical day looks like:

The mix of forest and ocean gives you a new appreciation of nature

Every morning when I leave to go to work, I look down the hill towards the Pacific Ocean. Not only is there an incredible view at every given moment here at Ogatsu, it reminds me that I am experiencing a new environment, culture, and lifestyle that is different to the one I had in Ann Arbor. As you can also see a view of the ocean from Moriumius as well, I am always reminded of how the ocean is closely interconnected with Ogatsu and also with what I do every day at work.

Rubber, Snowy, and Hangi taking a nap

Once I am at work, mornings are usually dedicated to various chores that are usually centered around cleaning or tending to the animals. Although you can typically find me chasing runaway chickens or walking the goats, my favorite is feeding the pigs. They tend to be the most well-mannered out of all of the animals, and the three act adorably when you feed apples directly from your hand.

My Biggest Challenge

After morning chores and lunch, the rest of the afternoon is dedicated towards building the fire and preparing the two outdoor baths. The concept behind the baths, which is a typical aspect within Japanese culture, is that we use wood from the forest to heat up the water. By using only the materials naturally available in the area, Moriumius hopes to obtain and use energy that is more natural and mindful of the local environment around Ogatsu. The fires remain my biggest challenge, as it is difficult to first build sufficient heat, and secondly to maintain the heat for hours. I have to start the fire for smaller bath three hours earlier, and the fire for the larger bath for four hours earlier. As the goal is to get the wood boiler for the larger fire at 80°C, and I often don’t have a lot of available firewood (as it rains often here), every fire is a difficult challenge.

The larger bath prepared and ready for relaxation

Simultaneously while I build and maintain the fires, I clean and fill the baths with the water. As the fires are something that I need to constantly tend to and be flexible with, tending to the baths are less stressful for me because I can follow a consistent schedule that I can depend on. The goal is to finish the baths around 30 minutes before they need to officially be ready, and some days are more of a scramble to finish if the fires were not executed properly.

Verdict: cooking the rice in the bamboo retains more water than using a rice cooker. Perhaps due to the structure of the plant?

My last picture reflects on the aspect regarding the opportunities I can count on having to learn something new about Moriumius, Ogatsu, or about sustainability. From having a crash course about permaculture to gathering bamboo to make rice, there is always a promise of something insightful or educational with every day. I hope to research more about permaculture, and hopefully use apply similar ecologically-conscientious methods when discussing and working towards community development.

Finally, it cannot go unsaid that I would not be able to last a day at Moriumius if it wasn’t for the wonderful people I work and interact with. Not only have the local community been widely friendly and generous to an outsider like myself, interactions with the guest always provide interesting conversation and a new perspective. The workers at Moriumius are very close to one another, and they were quick to welcome me into their team. I still have a lot to learn about the inner-workings but they have been very patient in explaining things– especially when I cannot understand certain Japanese words or phrases. The women here have particularly been an inspiration to me, as their work-ethic and all-around positive attitude is admirable and infectious. Since their work is primarily behind-the-scenes, their exceptional dedication towards everything that they do tends to sometimes go unnoticed. I strive to spend each day working with that same devotion, and work towards making every one of my actions beneficial towards the hard work these women and the rest of the members complete here at Moriumius. This inspiration also includes the other interns from the University of Michigan; we have all gotten close to one other, and I know everything is going to be okay because I have a supportive and positive network. The most important lesson I have received so far at Moriumius is that your attitude and approach towards your work greatly affects not only your work output, but also impacts how the organization functions as a whole.

While days at Moriumius can be long, the work is easier when you do it with such wonderful people. I feel thankful.

One thought on “Feeling Thankful | #2

  • June 26, 2017 at 7:46 pm
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    Building the fires sounds like quite a challenge with the limited firewood, extended time necessary to heat the water, and even starting the fire! Even though much of what you are doing may not be directly applicable to your future career, it sounds like there are a lot of transferrable skills and characteristics that can apply elsewhere. 🙂

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