ジャーナルセクションを最大限にご活用いただくため、メインの言語をお選びください:
English 日本語 Español Português

ジャーナルセクションに新しい機能を追加しました。コメントなどeditor@DiscoverNikkei.orgまでお送りください。

絆2020:ニッケイの思いやりと連帯―新型コロナウイルスの世界的大流行を受けて

Keeping Family Ties

Keeping Family Ties
X

For some of us, an unexpected side effect of COVID-19 has been the increased importance of relationships. As the epidemic progressed, keeping in touch with loved ones has proven challenging. But for Rex Ishikawa’s family, virtual gatherings have been a weekly practice for the past seven years – first via Skype and more recently by Zoom.

Several years ago, Rex moved back to Käne‘ohe after living in Oklahoma for 28 years. He currently helps care for his 93-year-old father, Walter, who is still working at the airport Blind Vendors Ohana! Rex is the father of five adult children and six grandchildren who are spread out across Hawai‘i, Oklahoma and New Jersey. Even though everyone is busy raising children and working in the fields of heath care, engineering and the ministry, they still make time for weekly virtual gatherings.

Over the years, family members have participated in the births of two babies, the re-marriage ceremony of Marvis (mother of the five Ishikawa children fathered by ex-husband Rex), tours of relatives’ new homes, travels abroad (Taipei, Okinawa, etc.) as well as the mundane activities of everyday life.

On a recent Friday afternoon in January, I dropped in on one of their Zoom gatherings. I came away with a renewed appreciation for how simple yet profound this time of connecting can be. Jumping online from Oklahoma were two grandchildren — Titus, 6 and Juno, 5 — who shared their artwork with dad Jerry supervising. Also online were Grandpa Rex, and Aunties Yuke Kee (New Jersey) and U‘ilani (Hawai‘i). Then, “Popo” Marvis and spouse Jerome joined the ‘ohana online after eldest daughter Michi brought them home from the airport in Oklahoma City following a month-long trip back to Hawai‘i.

Through weekly online gatherings this blended, cross-country family is able to cultivate and sustain their relationships. The Japanese value of gaman (quiet endurance) and the deep meanings of aloha and ‘ohana as shared by the late Aunty Pilahi Paki, keeper of Hawaiian cultural practices, and by Pono Shim, a contemporary aloha proponent, are clearly woven throughout these inclusive gatherings.

The roots for the gatherings can be traced to the family Facebook postings about “good movies to watch, foods to try, etc.” This evolved organically into the weekly sessions as the family utilized the latest technology to connect with each other. Over the years, members have had to adapt to changing circumstances, recognizing the different needs of age groups represented in this inter-generational family. One example was younger members not being interested when adults started talking about religion and theology matters, so a separate time was set up for younger cousins to meet. Currently there are discussions of adding a weekly game night for older cousins.

U‘ilani is a field minister with the Community of Christ church assigned to the Pacific and East Asia regions. Growing up in Oklahoma, she kept in touch with her grandparents in Hawai‘i through letters and visits, and believes nourishment of relationships is an important reason behind the family gatherings.

Last fall, Rex and U‘ilani conducted a six-week class on utilizing the Zoom video-conference platform to maximize its usage for church participants. This Zoom class gave impetus to begin the Chinen ‘Ohana Talk Story, or COTS, with my own family.

Inspired by the Ishikawa-family gatherings, COTS meets every other month via Zoom. Each gathering has a theme — e.g. the sharing of cherished childhood memories, people who impacted your life in a positive way and favorite foods and stories. This structure was suggested by cousin Earlyn, who hopes to create a family-history book; it also helps to bring some organization to the talk story. The idea for a family-history book came from my trip to Okinawa in 2019 with the Hawaii United Okinawa Association study tour, which I took together with my brother Stephen Chinen who wrote an oral-history research paper about our family roots for an UHM Ethnic Studies Program course in 1980.

The sessions have drawn 12-15 family members together, from our 90-year-old matriarch Aunty Take living in California, to my 27-year-old grand niece Ellie and her spouse Tim residing in Massachusetts. COTS is about connecting, learning about family history and having fun!

Relationships are the core of life, and tending to them on a regular basis has been an important and empowering experience for the Ishikawa family. The ultimate barometer to evaluate these weekly meetings will be how these relationships support and sustain the family in the future and provide a solid foundation for members to strengthen their commitment to one another. Sharing our stories is one way to bring forth community in our tech-oriented lives, reminding all of us of our connections to family.

 

*This article was originally published by The Hawai‘i Herald on March 19.

 

© 2021 Merton Chinen

communication community covid-19 family hawaii relationship Zoom

このシリーズについて

人と人との深い心の結びつき、それが「絆」です。

2011年、私たちはニッケイ・コミュニティがどのように東日本大震災に反応し、日本を支援したかというテーマで特別シリーズを設け、世界中のニッケイ・コミュニティに協力を呼びかけました。今回ディスカバーニッケイでは、ニッケイの家族やコミュニティが新型コロナウイルスによる世界的危機からどのような打撃を受け、この状況に対応しているか、みなさんの体験談を募集し、ここに紹介します。 

投稿希望の方は、こちらのガイドラインをご覧ください。英語、日本語、スペイン語、ポルトガル語で投稿を受け付けており、世界中から多様なエピソードをお待ちしています。みなさんのストーリーから連帯が生まれ、この危機的状況への反応や視点の詰まった、世界中のニマ会から未来に向けたタイムカプセルが生まれることを願っています。 

* * * * *

新型コロナウイルスの世界的大流行に伴い、世界中で多くのイベントが中止となりましたが、新たにたくさんのオンラインイベントが立ち上げられています。オンラインで開催されるイベントには、世界中から誰でも参加することができます。みなさんが所属しているニッケイ団体でバーチャルイベントを開催する予定があるという方は、当サイトのイベントセクションに情報の投稿をお願いいたします。投稿いただいたイベントは、ツイッター(@discovernikkei)で共有します。今自宅で孤立している方も多くいらっしゃると思いますが、オンラインイベントを通して新しい形で互いにつながれることを願っています。