A Dedication to Our New School Building
Tsukuba International School
May 21, 2016
The building that you are standing in today comes at a price. Of course, there was a financial price that we had to pay, and the costs that were borne through the time and effort of people like Hisae Kitazawa, Joanne Handa, Haruo Aizawa, Akira Yokota, Takayoshi Nishitani, the Kano family, the staff of BigBox, and various offices of the Ibaraki Prefectural government. And there was a cost to the environment, as we had to cut down countless trees, destroying the natural habitat of many forest creatures. Was it worth it? How can we guarantee that the value that we give back is larger than the value that we have taken? If we have done all of this and paid this huge cost to graduate students who excel at getting good grades on tests, then we have not made a good investment. No, we need to pay a higher price. We need to graduate respectful students who can be thoughtful stewards of our beautiful planet and who can find ways to work together graciously with all of the people on it: students who know how to try and fail, and try again and again.
Mr. Kano taught me to dream big. I was a volunteer at this school for many years before I started working here and I remember the very lean years. The children didn’t have a building of their own. They didn’t have grounds to play on. The only resources they had were ones that were donated. Mr. Kano looked at the school at that time and saw not what it was, but what it could be. He saw bright, cheerful children and dedicated teachers. He saw a community of parents who cared deeply about the education of their children. And instead of dwelling on the problems, he started to dream. What if…? What would happen if this tiny school of eight children were given a chance? Everything that you see here today, the students, the building, the curriculum, EVERYTHING, came from this one idea. What if…? Mr. Kano thought, “What if I quit my job and dedicated the rest of my life to making an internationally-recognized school here in Tsukuba?” And he didn’t just stop there; he communicated his “What if…?” to many people.
His spoke about his idea to his wife, and the rest of the Kano family, who have been one of the school’s strongest financial backers, and without whose help, guidance, and constant support, none of what you see today would be here. He convinced many notable people to join our board, and those people have been a constant source of knowledge, critical feedback, and wisdom. He was able to communicate the significance of the school to the city and prefectural government, so the budding school could finally be recognized as an asset to the citizens of Tsukuba and Ibaraki. He persuaded teachers to leave their comfortable positions at other, more established schools to gamble on his dream. And he communicated his big idea to parents and students who were eager to share in his vision of a little school in a luscious green forest with a big heart and an enormous dream. That idea, and the telling and retelling of it by all of us since then, is what brings us together today to dedicate this new building to the future of not just our school, but the future of IDEAS and COMMUNICATION, and using them to make the world a better place.
This school, and this building, exist because of ideas. And my dream for this school, and this building, with its science lab, music room, and large assembly room where we are standing today, is that it become the birthplace of a hundred thousand ideas: good and bad, practical and impractical, successful and impossible ideas. There is nothing else that has as much power to change the world as a person with an idea. And so, in payment for the great costs that this building has incurred, I hereby dedicate this building and this school to the FUTURE, to the power of COMMUNICATION, and to great, big, messy, exhilarating IDEAS.