ASIJ Class of 1974 Sanjunenkai


Tracy Stephens Haughton: I came back from the reunion and immediately was swept up in the rushing river of my current family life, but as I finally write I am struck by how my own two oldest daughters are now close to the ages I was when I arrived in Japan (age 13) and when I left Japan (age 17). Going through these years with my own children, I realize there is much about being a teenager that is common to any place and time, but also the ways in which my own teenage years were largely defined by the amazing experience of living in the Tokyo in the 1970s: the freedom of being able to get anywhere by myself on the trains and subways and not depending on my parents to transport me; the odd sensation of being a "gaijin" and not just having the normal teenage illusion that "everyone" is noticing how odd you are but REALLY having people stare at me every time I stepped out in public; having my horizon expanded at a very young age by being part of the ASIJ community with students and teachers from all over US and the world and from so many different family backgrounds--corporate, missionary, diplomat, etc. [Click Here To View More of Tracy's Thoughts]

It was wonderful to see people again who for 30 years have been frozen in my mind by their yearbook picture! I talked with people I had never spoken to in high school but the conversation came easy because we had something so powerful in common. My life in Japan has never felt very connected with the continuum of the life I have built since then. This reunion allowed me to weave those dangling threads into the fabric of the life I live now. Tim Carr's talk about Third Culture Kids was a real "a-ha" moment for me--putting words to a feeling I have long had about those ASIJ years but could never articulate. It was wonderful to have my husband there to meet many of my friends and classmates from that time and to hear the Third Culture Kids phenomenon explained. We both came to understand a part of my growing up in a new way.
Spending the whole weekend together allowed us to build deep connections that one event of a few hours couldn't do. Thank you, Brent Ware, for your amazing generosity in bringing us together. The service on Sunday morning was especially moving. Thank you, Lisa DeYoung Jastram, for organizing such a lovely gathering which brought us to a tender and poignant place of remembering our departed friends and family and also gave us a chance to reflect on the blessings of being reunited with old friends to both to share memories and build new friendship going forward. In that moment I felt all those who couldn't be there with us "hovering 'round".


Bill Manual: The reunion surpassed my expectations. Brent put on a great event and was ever the gracious host. I'm was glad to see familiar faces and some that I haven't seen since graduation day. I like to think of these reunions as others might think of a trip to the old home town. There always seems to be a connection or bond between us ASIJers that doesn't appear to to diminish over time. I quite enjoy following up on everyones activity and how they have evolved and learned from these experiences. Perhaps this process gives me a better perspective on the path I've taken since graduation. In any event, it's always great to keep up with old friends. The memorial service for the fellow students that have passed was very genuine and a moving experience. Many thanks for Lisa and Marcia's efforts.


Carole Zak Woodward: The power of this reunion has kept many of us awake thinking of so many things from those formative years when we all came of age. It was good to finally "come back". I hope this won't be the last time.


Irene Anderson: In terms of my feelings about these reunions in general, I think Tim Carr summed it up best in his talk when he said that we "third culture kids" yearn for that sense of a home town which we don't have. So many of my friends in Los Angeles who grew up here can still point to the homes in our neighborhood that they grew up in, whereas all the homes I lived in as a child have been torn down and made into apartments!
I am sure that is why I have been to about 6 ASIJ reunions since 1985 in Tokyo, Long Beach, Seattle, the Tokyo and SF Centennials and Nashville! In my case, I was the second generation of "third culture kid" as my father was born to Scottish and Eurasian parents in China and grew up there in the 1920's and 30's attending British schools. My mother is American but was an Army brat so moved around constantly and never had a sense of a home town either. The closest I ever feel to a homecoming is really these reunions, and what always amazes me is how easy it is to strike up friendships with ASIJ alumni from different classes and even different generations- there is always a bond and that connection with Japan. Not to mention how much fun it is to see old friends that I was close to in high school and to find it so easy to pick up where we left off! It is a wonderful feeling and one that I cherish more as I get older and have experienced the loss of loved ones. I also feel very fortunate that my husband Jamie has come with me so often to these reunions and now knows so many of my old friends. He really looks forward to attending ASIJ events and goes to far more of them than to his own reunions because he says they are just more fun!


David Kelly: I was a short-timer in Tokyo - just two years - so I didn't have the same upheaval in my life after graduation as those of you who grew up there. No doubt that the time at ASIJ played a significant role in making me the person I turned into, but for me, living in Japan was really more like hanging out in Wonderland than anything to do with real life. It was a wonderful experience, but it didn't seem real in many ways because it was so different from everything that had come before or after.
I think many of us from that time and place wandered off the paths we were supposed to follow after high school - college, maybe grad / law / med school, career and family. I think a part of the reason for that is what Tim Carr spoke about in his Third Culture Kids talk, which seemed germane even to those of us who hadn't been there our whole lives. Speaking for myself, coming back to small-town America after Japan was a real shock to the system for someone who'd been spoiled by having one of the most amazing cities in the world for a playground.
Maybe it was hard to look back on such a high point in my life from the more mundane places I ended up, but for whatever reason and without ever meaning to, I seem to have turned my back on ASIJ and Japan as I grew older. And that was a shame, because it was such a defining experience. I allowed myself to lose touch with everyone I knew from that time. And so we come around to the subject of the 30th Reunion in Nashville. [Click Here To View More of David's Thoughts]
A reunion, especially a high numbered one, is a strange concept to wrap your head around. First of all, I'm too young to be 30 years out of high school. And I'm definitely too young to find the kids I used to hang out with approaching grandparent territory! And then there's that pesky question of whether ASIJ ever really truly happened, or was it just a trip to the amusement park for so many years? And that scarier question of whether those kids I used to know will be scrutinizing and judging and comparing their metrics to mine, and will I be found wanting? But somehow I made up my mind to attend, and I'm very happy that I did.
The Nashville Reunion weekend was a whirl of one amazing event after another, a complete sensory overload of environment and experience, all overlaid with the emotional highs of meeting and reconnecting with people with who had disappeared off my radar screen 30 years ago. Saturday night was beyond description. And then Sunday morning, with the Service of Remembrance, was the most fitting possible way to end the event - the reminder of what was genuinely important was exactly what we needed to carry away from the weekend as we made our ways back to our normal lives.
Renewing old friendships that had long-since lapsed was a huge part of the event for me. But an equally huge part was becoming friends with people I hadn't gotten to know well enough (or at all) back in the day. And it was sobering to discover that people I thought I'd known back then were not as uncomplicated as the little boxes I'd categorized them in would indicate. People are more complex than we sometimes realize, and it's careless and patronizing to forget that. Your high school can help you grow years after the fact, if you let it.
There was a tremendous outpouring of warmth and generosity of spirit from all who attended. It would have been a great experience if it had happened in a gym decorated with streamers and a DJ. Having it take place at Brent's house, farm, and studios with a band full of rock royalty made it just that much more magical.
The reunion helped me realize that I really have to go back to Japan and revisit the people and places that brought me here. Maybe this coming summer...? My time at ASIJ meant too much to me to allow myself to neglect the memories for so long. Which is why the reunion was an event not to be missed - it served as a reminder of why the time in Tokyo mattered so much. It was a chance to make new memories with the people who share many of my most interesting old ones. Can't wait for the next event!


Nan Setterholm VanSandt: When I got home, the first thing I wanted to do was to write to everyone. It was so good to reconnect with ASIJ'ers, I wasn't ready to stop, I guess. All part of that "third culture" thing. My best talks were on the bus rides to and from the events. We also had a little get together in our hotel room Sunday night (about 10-15? people) which was nice...We ended up going around the room with each person in turn telling their "Japan " story (how they got there etc.) It was fascinating.


Linda Thompson Nuxoll: I think that for those of us who are THIRD CULTURE CHILDREN (if that is the correct way it is stated) these reunions are especially important. The only ones who can truly relate to our experiences are our fellow THIRD CULTURE-ISTS. The experiences we have had and have shared are unique, deep and special. To be able to come together again helps us to renew ourselves through these commons bonds. It never seems to matter if we were "buddies" in school or not. When we look in each other's eyes we are transported to a time and place that only WE can share and there is validation, renewal and safety. What a Blessing & GIFT!!!!!


Beth Pedersen Rossier: As one of those who had not attended any of the previous reunions (except for the dinner at the Long Beach reunion), and after having such a great time at this one, I have been questioning myself as to why I didn't attend others previously. I guess up until the last few years, I was having so many issues in my personal life that either I felt I couldn't take the time away, or didn't want to bestow my misery on classmates I had not kept in any contact with. In any case, that has all changed and I am happy and content both in my work and personal life. It was wonderful to see everyone, and find out that core values, the energy and will to "have fun", and the fond remembrances of Japan, ASIJ and each other had not changed for those attending. I have to say, what was the greatest thing for me was connecting back with fellow ASIJ'ers who were also missionary kids that I basically knew all my childhood - Paulette and you (Lisa), Nan, Marcia, Mirja. Even though we didn't hang out together much in the later years, that's still where I felt the greatest bond. Kind of odd in a way.
Anyway, it was great see how well everyone is doing. My only regret is that I wasn't able to have more in-depth conversations with most... it seems we were so busy with all the events.
I wanted to thank you (Lisa) for putting together the service Sunday morning. The realization that so many of us (teachers, parents, fellow classmates, siblings, children) have passed on, made me very emotional and I thought the service was a very fitting way to remember them. It's interesting how a flood of emotion can erupt from bringing back old memories.


Ken Lammers: It was wonderful to meet everyone again after 30 years. Many good and bad memories from the past came back to me, but more than the past It was a time to look at where I am in life now. A chance to talk to people and remember the instances that influenced me 30 years ago. I was surprised how much those days had influenced me and how much still is the same as those days. I thought I had grown up! After the 2 days with friends, it was really great to get back home and really feel good about where I was in life. Home with my family, knowing that the reason I am happy today is because of all my friends in past and present. I had put the past aside for a while and I do not regret that but hope I will be able to get to more of these reunions in the future.


Richard Walker: I actually had to be convinced to go to Nashville at the urging of my wife, Sheila and, strangely enough, my good friend, Diane from the Hague (where I graduated), who had coordinated our big American School in the Hague reunion in May of 2003, which was just as rewarding for everybody at that school. Since I graduated from ASH, I wasn't quite sure anybody at ASIJ would remember me if I attended a reunion, since I didn't graduate with everybody. During all the hoopla around my reunion in the Hague, I decided to check out ASIJ's website, too, to see the notes in Mirja's collection about all of my old friends from back then. That got me interested in the reunions going on for ASIJ. I couldn't go to SFO because it was only 2 weeks after my ASH reunion and the budget couldn't handle it, and then I almost went to the Doro-Kami in Wisconsin, but I think I had a wedding video I was committed to on the very same day. So...I finally decided it was a no-brainer to jump in the car and drive 4 hours up the road from my home in Atlanta to Nashville.
What I didn't expect was that a guy with the heart of a Brent Ware was going to give us all the gift of a lifetime by hosting this event and that folks like Lisa (DeYoung) and Irene (Anderson) and Mirja Karikoski (Hanson) would all bend over backwards to provide the perfect atmosphere for rekindling my lost love for my friends from back then, my old school and my old home, Japan, which I have not visited since leaving in 1973.
[Click Here To View More of Richard's Thoughts]

When I arrived at the Best Western, the first two people I ran into were Paul Swain and Tim Turner, so we all instantly hit it off and I knew it was going to be a good time no matter what. Tim and his wife, Bev and I had some beers before the bus came and took us to Brent's place and then I was overwhelmed with jitters...I didn't know any of these people and they probably don't know me either...uh oh!
Then I got to the mansion after the bus fought through football traffic (like a salmon swimming upstream) and I sort of clung to Tim and Bev and Paul since I "knew" them. It didn't take but 10 minutes after being graciously greeted at the door by the Wares to start recognizing old friends...first, Anne Ludlow , whom I had not seen since we ran into each other several times in Boston during college days, then there was Grace Fukuda (Berman)...a very special friend I had not been in touch with since leaving Tokyo, then Paul Nagata, my best wrestling buddy whom I'd always wondered how he was and where he was, then Steve Sundberg, who was also one of my best friends from back then. He had once illustrated a children's book I wrote in Mrs. Butler's English class. He was ALWAYS so creative. Then there was Jessie Furness. whom I remembered from us being in the same confirmation class together at St. Albans Anglican church across the street from Tokyo Tower. Then I got my sushi and sat down with, Paulette (De Young), whom I remembered as this gorgeous upperclassmen girl who was always so friendly. She was sitting there with Beth Pederson, whom I remembered as being one of the best cheerleaders when I was in football. Beth and Paulette instantly made me feel welcome and then Lisa (De Young) came along... I remembered VERY well the music she and Karen Heck created in a big assembly we had during junior year. They played "House of the Rising Sun" and "Father and Son" and to this day, I think about that assembly every time I hear either of those two songs on the radio.
Then, Gary (Mr.) Fish loosened us all up with his great standup routine. Teachers are like parents...they tell you all their fun secrets when it's safe some 30 years after all of their antics occurred. When he was talking, he talked about his "losing cross country team", which instantly conjured up memories of my time on that team. He was a big coaching inspiration to me back then. He was another great "character builder" at that school for me. Then there was Mr. (Steve) Myers, who taught me how to do a slide rule (or else I wouldn't graduate!) and Mr. Bonneville, whom I did not immediately remember, but then it came back to me that I still had the protractor I bought for his class in my desk drawer after all these years ( the one with the Japanese writing on the sheath). And...that was just the first night.
Then for breakfast on Saturday, I got to sit with Mr. and Mrs. Bonneville and I heard of their adventures in Laos, where they adopted their son and daughter, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua and Slovakia, before they finally settled down in deep south Texas. They were incredibly brave people to work in such lands at such times.
Then at the farm, the visiting and the fun just helped me to bond with my old friends even more and forge great new friends like Woody Sherman and Nathan Lund, whom I hadn't known really well at ASIJ. Lisa and Dave Jastram are both among those new friends I know I will cherish. I was sorry I did not get to see Dan Jastram. Dan was kind of a wrestling mentor for me. He was always better than me, but he was always a great teacher in his quiet sort of way. He had written me a wonderful note in my '73 yearbook that I sometimes still look at for inspiration. (I'm sure he probably doesn't remember it.) I had a great time riding the horses. That's another experience I did not have for some 10 years, since Sheila and I went horse-back riding in the Blue Ridge in Virginia when we first were married.
Then Saturday evening was a wonderful whirlwind of a night. The dancing, the speech by our new headmaster ( a GREAT guy!), watching Brent Ware in action delivering his wonderful gift to everyone and then receiving our token gift with true appreciation. Then, I was instantly on American Bandstand with cameras rolling and members from several bands I listened to in college (Wet Willie, 38 Special, Marshall Tucker) all playing live before my very eyes. I was grinning the whole time.
I had a wonderful conversation that night with Anne Ludlow Kuzara and Dave Kuzara and found out that Dave is facing the same challenges I had faced in 1996 when my Dad had terminal cancer. I got to pray for Dave the next morning at the wonderful memorial service that Lisa and Marcia and Anne and Irene and Nan and Donna had had for all of us. That morning I was very glad the Mr. Moyer issue was brought up, because I had not previously heard much about that except bits and pieces and I am sure that was a painful thing for several people in the room. Appreciated the thoughtful (and perfect) positioning of that tragic situation.
Also, I did not know a lot about David De Young's battle with AIDS and the story about that really touched me and the (AIDS) quilt moved me immensely. Then, I was in tears when we were given the opportunity to honor the ASIJ parents and I got to put a tsuru (paper crane) on the tree for my dad, who was my mentor and my hero during my Japan years and really, always up until he passed in January, 1996. I was a bit shy at the microphone, but I wish I had said that on that morning. Thanks for providing us with that wonderful setting for prayer and emotion.
Finally, the last brunch, and I got to catch up a bit with Nan Setterholm (VanSandt). She is a wonderful person and has just as great of a personality as she did back in school. Then...more jolting emotional news...Mr. Okada was gravely ill. I remembered very vividly, a dinner at his house the night before an away football game at Zama. He explained to all of us ignorant kids all about the internment camps for people of Japanese decent in the US and his bitter experiences there during World War II. That was a lesson in life I will never forget.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye and take the last round of group pictures and exchange emails and phone numbers. During that last flurry, I said hello for the first time to Paul Kidder, my JV football buddy. In a brief 5 minutes, I found out that he lives in Atlanta right down the road from me. I didn't get to meet his wife and kids, though, who were sitting right there. Paul and I just had lunch 2 days ago here in Atlanta and I learned that his wife and I went to Tufts University, so there's another great connection made as a result of this wonderful weekend.
What a magical weekend...


Anne Ludlow: I will agree with the general consensus that it was a wonderful reunion, and for all the best reasons -- catching up with long-missed friends, making new friendships, and in my case, at least, FINALLY putting to rest, in my own head, all the nonsense, confusion, and general overall dissatisfaction with myself from that time. The short story is all that's in the past, so let go of it. One layer down, the story becomes one of finally being comfortable in my own skin and with who I am, and so I am now finally able to let go of all that previously mentioned nonsense (which really was very painful, but there you are) of the that time. The longer story is too long to go into here, but you can imagine.