Hiroshima International School: A Partial History (2016) based upon HIS: The First Fifty Years- A preliminary attempt at a school history Peter McKenzie, Principal, April 2012
(a 2016 AUTO-ETHNOGRAPHY. W. Enloe Principal 1980-1988)
Like very many international schools, Hiroshima International School (HIS) was founded in the early 1960s by expatriate parents wanting an English language education for their young children. And like others, it has evolved and grown since those early days (1962) into a successful and professional school today (2013) educating children from early childhood up to university entrance.
The parents whose vision and initiative launched what is now HIS were mostly from North America. Their reasons for being in Hiroshima varied. Some came as Christian missionaries. Others worked at the American Cultural Center. Occasionally there were foreign employees of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Mazda Motors or the professional baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. Some taught at local universities and private schools. Still others came to work at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) (now known as Radiation Effects Research Foundation). Mr. Rappaport, a long time Australian resident and employee of ABCC, indicated that ABCC parents explored on several occasions the idea of hiring an American teacher through their association with the National Academy of Science in Washington. At the time their children were mostly home schooled (using the Calvert correspondence program as many missionary families did, though often their children also attended Japanese schools), and older ABCC students attended the U.S. Marine Air Corps base school, Matthew C. Perry School, at Iwakuni (the ABCC federal government station wagon took 90 minutes each way). It was these families that finally decided that Hiroshima needed its own English-medium school.
A group of parents including Alayne van Dyck, who later taught at the school, recruited Eleanor Baldwin who, with her husband and young daughter, had moved to Kyoto from their native Canada in 1960. Mrs. Baldwin was a qualified teacher from Ontario and it was the curriculum of this Canadian province that the students were to follow into the 1980s. She remained with the school until 1971, but her familys connection to the school was to last far longer.
What was initially known as the Hiroshima American School opened the fall of 1962 in two rooms belonging to the Baptist Church on the Peace Boulevard next to the American Culture Center. It had perhaps a dozen students. Eleanor Baldwin taught a combine class of Grades 1, 2, 3 and Evelyn Keehn taught grades 4 to 6. Eleanor Baldwin recalls, The whole program came together very quickly. The parents wanted their children to have schooling in English because so many of them were short time in Hiroshima and would be returning for school and didnt want them to be behind.
The Enloe family visited Hiroshima from Kobe in the early spring of 1963. They were to serve the Presbyterian mission in Hiroshima beginning the fall of 1963 (through 1989). There were four children ages 14-6 who attended the Canadian Academy (CA) in Kobe.
The youngest child Mary would attend HIS but the three oldest children would have to attend the school in Iwakuni until they were ready for boarding school at CA. Mr. Enloe, a former US Marine Air Corps sergeant and federal government employee, tried unsuccessfully to get his children seats in the ABCC government station wagon to Iwakuni but his formal request was denied. So riding the public bus, trolley and walking took over two hours each way between their Hiroshima home and the school.
Edith Bradshaw arrived in 1963 and taught the lower grades. Mrs. Olson taught music. Enrolment had risen to 19 and Eleanor Baldwin assumed the title of principal. But the two rooms shared with the Baptist Church Sunday school was no longer a solution to the needs of the young American School, and in 1964, entering its third year, new premises were occupied in what had been the Baptist missionary residence in the Ushita ward of the city. The home looked onto a suburban park, which, although not owned by the school, became an essential, additional facility. HIS would remain at this location, acquiring the property next door in 1984, until it moved to its current facility in Koyo cho in 1986; HIS would keep the Ushita property for its language and culture programs well into 2000.
Walter McKibben succeeded Eleanor Baldwin as principal and it was he who changed the name of the school from American to International in 1965. According to Abe sensei, the art teacher and a good friend of Mr. McKibben, the name was changed for several reasons. Foremost was Hiroshima was designated to become the International City of Peace, and later, and Culture, and as an international school it might enhance the citys reputation, garnering social capital for the school. Second, with the school moving from the central part of the City to its north ward, the school could become more independent from the cultural perception that all things foreign were American. The school began in the Baptist Church (US Southern Baptist), next to the American Culture Center directly below Hijiyama Hill where the American ABCC was located. This landscape was disconcerting to some. There was a significant anti-war, anti-nuke peace movement and anti-American sentiment was growing. There was the anger and resentment of many hibakusha (a-bomb victims) towards the ABCC and American and Japanese governments, because the ABCC researched the effects of radiation on these civilian victims, but it neither diagnosed nor treated the a-bomb victims. There was also a growing suspicion of US nuclear weapons on Japanese soil (in Iwakuni) following the signing of the 1960 Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Security and Cooperation.
Like many of the students at that time, Mr. McKibben subsequently moved to M.C. Perry School at Iwakuni where he remained for 39 years (Who would have thought in the 1960s that forty years later HIS would be playing and beating M.C. Perry at volleyball and basketball?)
One of the schools longest serving and most loved figures was Abe sensei. In 1962, a young Japanese teacher and artist, Tomio Abe, was hired to teach art. A specialist in traditional Noh painting and the arts and history of Kyoto, Abe sensei had studied art in Paris and over the years befriended a number of ABCC families.
He stayed with the school for more than thirty years, a much loved and highly respected figure who is fondly remembered by those whom he taught and by those he worked with. Jim Paffrath, principal from 1973-1975 describes Abe sensei as
a dream. He taught (my wife) and I most of what we know about Japanese history and tradition, and did it in an interesting and real way
He had a way with kids that I have never seen before or since. Charles Kite who succeeded Jim as principal (1975-1980) observes, Abe sensei was as responsible as anyone in bringing Japanese culture into the lives of HIS teachers in that era. Walter Enloe who succeeded Charles from 1980-1988 remembers that, Abe sensei brought Japanese culture and arts and crafts to the children; opened his familys home (with help from his mother, brothers and sisters-in-law) to teachers and the community with elaborate parties and cultural demonstrations. Teachers learned much from his traditional approach to Japanese art and craft instruction. A hibakusha, I learned much from his dedication to peace and international friendship and understanding. And today our family covets our several Noh paintings from his yearly New Year exhibition at a local, downtown gallery.
By 1967, with Eleanor Baldwin again principal, the school was increasingly reliant on the support of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. However, enrollment, never robust, had sunk to just twelve students; a fascinating (but frustratingly soundless) film from the 67-68 school year includes a scene, in which, over lunch, Eleanor and members of the ABCC are discussing the future of the school. The film (which is now found on the HIS website) was made by NHK and shot mostly in and around the Ushita School. The pretty teacher who appears to have caught the eye of the cameraman is Anita Combs.
In 1968 HIS was a founding member of EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools), sponsored by the United States Department of States Office of Overseas Schools, receiving a small grant ($3,000 a year from 1980-1988) for demonstrating the best practices of American education. In the 1990s EARCOS became the East Asia Council of International Schools. In 1972 HIS was a founding member of the Japan Council of Overseas Schools (JCOS) which sponsored regular professional gatherings for teachers and school heads. Walter Enloe was the Treasurer of JCOS from 1986-1988 and initiated the change of the organizations name in 1988 to the Japan Council of International Schools which his assertive, Overseas from what? Most of our 21 members schools are international in their legal names. From 2009-2012 HIS principal Peter McKenzie served as JCIS president. Both JCIS and ECIS signaled that the growing number of international schools (many British or American oriented) catering largely to expatriate populations (with and a growing national presence), began to identify growing areas of interest and partnership- from legal
matters, accreditation, professional development, and curricula and extra-curricula programs.
Eleanor Baldwin, who played such a formative role in the school early history left in 1971 and Jacqueline Pell succeeded her as principal. Jim Paffrath and his wife Christine, from northern California, took over in 1973. It was during his tenure that a Kindergarten class was opened for five year olds. Jim remembers, perhaps too modestly, If I have any claim to history at the school, it was to get (it) on sound financial footing with real accounting so Chuck Kite, my successor, could build a new school.
Indeed, Charles (Chuck) Kite, Principal from 1975-1980, did build a new school on the site of the old. He recalls, The deal to buy the property in Ushita was pretty complicated. HIS didnt have much money in the bank (Y10million or $45,000) if memory serves, and the Church was pushing us hard to buy or move. Ultimately, the property was bought and the new building paid for by a local entrepreneur, and the school rented it back from him. The local entrepreneur was Mr. Funakoshi, and English teacher at Jogakuin Methodist Girls School who had dual American and Japanese citizenship from Hawaii. He was introduced to Jim Paffrath and Chuck Kite through Molly Enloe and her husband Dan Heiber. Molly, Walters younger sister, returned to Hiroshima and taught English at Jogakuin with her husband Dan from 1974-1976.
For the 1978-79 school year, while the old building was demolished and the new one built, premises were rented in Yamane-cho, close to Hiroshima Station. But in the fall of 1979 the school was at last able to occupy its own purpose-built facility. It was also while Chuck Kite was principal that the school obtained kakushu gakko legal status largely through the efforts of Chucks wife, Yuri. While this status referred to miscellaneous schools, such as private language schools and cooking schools, HIS was formally recognized by the local Japanese government. Thus, HIS began the 1979-80 with official recognition, its own purpose-built premises, some 45 grade K-8 students and four foreign teachers, a teaching principal, two Japanese teachers and an office manager. It was seventeen years old and growing up.
Several years earlier in the fall of 1977, Chuck wrote Molly Enloes brother Walter to see if he might be interested in applying with his wife Kitty to be a teaching couple at HIS, with the idea that over the next two years Walter would become the teaching principal. Walter and Kitty were teachers in Atlanta and Walter was also a part-time administrator of programs at the Paideia School, and he anticipated completing his Ph.D. at Emory by the spring of 1978. Kitty had both an International Montessori degree and a masters degree in learning disabilities. Walter had taught multi-age, multi-grade for seven years at Paideia. Walter and Kitty had met their freshmen year at innovative and progressive Eckerd College where they both completed liberal arts programs and were greatly involved in the college community, sparking their interest to be teachers. Chuck anticipated the current teaching couple would be leaving in the next year, and he and Yuri were looking for new positions (they later worked at international schools in Somalia, Kenya, and Chuck retired as Assistant Headmaster of Canadian Academy in Kobe, the school the Enloe children first attended in 1961 and later graduated in the classes of 1967, 1968, 1969, and Mary in 1973). So in the early spring of 1978, Walter, Kitty and their one year old son Isaac drove to Birmingham, Alabama to be interviewed by a current HIS school board member, on leave from his Fulbright teaching position at Hiroshima National University. Several weeks later they were offered teaching positions at HIS.
But disaster struck for the young Enloe family. The current HIS teaching couples new positions in Indonesia were cancelled, and in honor of their past service the HIS board offered them new two year contracts. The Enloes, giving up their teaching positions and rented home, spent the next two years cobbling together work and a new place to live. However they were committed to moving to Japan. Walters parents were on leave for a year because of his fathers illness, and when he recovered they returned to Japan in 1979. They were offered two year legal contracts in the spring of 1980 and arrived in Japan in July.
It was a hot July. The first morning at HIS I noticed that the building was new but already in disrepair, and modest at best in both appearance and building materials. There was no air conditioning and the several large fans simply moved hot, humid air from one place to another. Tsuyu (rainy season) had just ended and been particularly severe with rain almost every day all day; the heavy rains had weakened a portion of the ferro-concrete, block structure wall in the back of the building and it had collapsed. We got that repaired though the building had no suitable insurance; fire and earthquake were covered, incompetency not! Months later as it turned Siberian cold we discovered that the copper spigots poking out of classroom walls for bringing kerosene to our classroom heaters had no internal piping in the walls. In order not to suffocate from the fumes in the middle of winter we had to leave a window open in each room; halls and bathrooms were not heated. And once again servicing the heaters, cleaning and filling them, became individual classroom teachers responsibility. It turns out with the coming of spring that first year that the concrete block walls were covered with a cheap, thin flammable wallpaper that had begun to peel in places; and the linoleum floor coverings had buckled in one room. And then there was the special room the k-2 classroom with the red carpet next to the school office. It was to be the building owners showcase. The legal status the school had obtained, kakushu gakko, or miscellaneous school meant that legally we were not a nonprofit international school but a private business in a warehouse; thus the school had no legal obligations to have a second floor emergency fire ladder or a sprinkling system; however the building was in an earthquake zone such that all cabinets and bookcases had to be secured into the walls. Moreover, this legal status stipulated that whomever owned the building itself owned its contents, and for the owner Mr. Funakoshi, that meant the school program itself. He had bought not only a building, he had bought himself an international school. Mr. Funakoshis brainchild was an after school language program for Japanese kids headquartered in the red carpet room with the American children and teachers (teaching in the program would be an added duty) attracting Japanese mothers and their children to English conversation lessons from childhood to adulthood. We knew that these kids and their families as well as other community members would be a key to our becoming a legal, nonprofit, authentic international school and not simply a warehouse for Americans, barbarians, half-breeds and other foreigners (at its zenith in 1988 we had some 500 students K-adult in our kotoba no gakko or language school).
Before going to Japan I had a premonition that I ought to visit with the past principal
Who was visiting his parents in the Dalles, Oregon. So we got the school board to pay for that detour stop and flew out to Portland. What surprised me in retrospect the first month at the school was we didnt talk about anything to do we the curious legal status, the building, or the relationship with Mr. Funakoshi. The talk was about a glorious future for the community: new building, new legal status, new teachers. Nor did he inform me of what he knew about enrollment projections. I had been led to believe that we would have forty K-8 foreign kids in three classrooms with an after school language program for some twenty Japanese children. There would be two part-time teachers in Japanese and art. Kitty would take the K-2 group, John Boyce from England, just completing five years of international school teaching, three in Tanzania and two at Kyoto International School would teach 3-5, and I would take the 6-8 group as a fulltime teacher and part-time principal. A recent admit, a ninth grade special student, the wonderful Morten Jacobsen from Denmark, in Hiroshima for one year where his father, an engineer, had a one year assignment with Mitsubishi gave us 27 students to begin the year. One reason for the drop in enrollment had to do with parents reactions to the past year and the uncertainty with new teachers of the immediate future. Two eighth graders, the children of two current board members, the Chairman and the Treasurer, had entered Christian Academy in Japan for boarding school; another eight grader was sent back to Holland for school; another enrolled in a Japanese junior high school; and Mrs. Jim Lyttle moved to Kobe and put her three kids into Canadian Academy. I discovered the apparent reasons for these transfers for my new found informant, Jim Lyttle. Jim had been the most valuable player the past six years for the professional team, the Hiroshima Carp (each Japanese team could have two foreign players). Jim had played for the Yankees and Dodgers; four years older than me he played ball at Florida State while I played down the road in St. Petersburg at Eckerd College. Our first night out over a few beers, he told me that over the past two years the staff began publically bickering, name-calling and back stabbing, turning parents against each as they took sides. The school board, he insinuated, had no skill or interest in resolving conflicts; they tended to avoid them as the issues became more serious. The teaching couple, an African American/European American couple were at the center of the controversies, threatening several times to leave- they wanted a larger apartment, salary increases and a greater travel allowance. This was the couple who helped keep us in limbo for several years. Finally they were forced out while the principal applied for a job in east Africa without the boards knowledge until he signed a contract two weeks before we signed ours. With all of this turmoil there might well be a correlation between this perceived crisis and the lack of house furnishings. In those days each teacher or couple would be issued a fully furnished apartment (fully refers to the listing of material culture: 4 plates, 4 glasses, two light fixtures, etc.). When we arrived there was nothing left by the previous couple.
Once we settled in and school began it was clear that we had a strong staff and wonderful children and families. There was so much enthusiasm that within the month after our first family picnic that almost every family had a parent who would sign up to be class mom or dad. This was the beginning of my thinking of an expatriate club similar to the longstanding athletic and social clubs of Yokohama and Kobe. Since 1979 the school had been publishing a monthly Calendar of Events which had recently evolved into the monthly magazine, The Hiroshima Signpost, published by the school and staffed largely by community volunteers with no school association, usually young American or British language teachers and professors who wrote travel articles, cultural pieces, and guides to the best restaurants, bars, and social happenings, including movie reviews. The school, in partnership with the City, had recently published an acclaimed book, sold at cost, titled Guide to Hiroshima for Foreign Residents, the first collection in English of local guides to banking, the post office, paying local taxes, hospital emergencies, and a guide to generic drugs among many others, all with Japanese translation. So if you didnt speak Japanese you could use the book as a tool to communicate with a druggist, or bank teller. So Mayr-Lee Clifton, the editor of Signpost, whose husband was head of the ABCC (from the medical school at University of Wisconsin), and I dreamed up the idea of a Hiroshima Community Club. She believed it would be both a challenge and a community asset. I saw it coming- sojourner, idle parents with little to do who want to help out at the International School seemingly every day, all day. Here is Ms. Cliftons description of this initial effort that would morph into the Hiroshima International Womens Club from Hiroshima Signpost, March, 1981.
Hiroshima International Community Club
The first meeting of the International Community Club was held
The middle of February. Approximately 25 foreigners and their
Teachers plus others involved with the Hiroshima International
School met for lunch. Many suggestions for activities and interest
Groups was received, and committee heads were appointed to plan
Organize. HIS will remain the central clearing house for this group and
An information resource, but the members will take care of details.
The lunch was very good fun to the point that the Ashai Shibun (national
Newspaper) reporter present asked, What are they all laughing about?
The foreigners were regaling the native residents with stories of the dumb
Things they had done on first arrival, i.e., the lady who kept trying to
Pay her streetcar fare and only succeeded in getting her money back in
Small change. We all look to the good times of doing and learning
Together. See details in this and future issues of SIGNPOST. Members
Of the international community interested in joining the club should
Contact either Terri Sato or Dr. Enloe at the school.
Below is the recent History of the Hiroshima Womens Club. From its face book page: A social group for women in Hiroshima, Japan, comprised of both Japanese and Foreign members, focused on the world we share. In the 1980s, a gentleman by the name of Walter Enloe, principal of the Hiroshima International School, and Mayre Lee Clifton, editor of the newsletter, The Signpost, were looking for a way to provide a service to the international community. Their intent was to bring people together for monthly social and cultural events. In the beginning this international club was open to both foreign men and women of Hiroshima. But it was the female members who began to organize cultural and social events, field trips and fundraisers. They even found an orphanage to support. A few Christmas dinners and parties were organized to involve the men folk, but by the spring of 1983, the Hiroshima International Womens Club was formed.
In the beginning, meetings were held in members homes, but later moved to the Luis Carol Restaurant. However, as the membership grew beyond 30, the restaurant could no longer accommodate the club, so monthly meetings moved to the Grand Hotel.
Over the next six years, more members joined the Womens Club and by 1989 there were over 80 members meeting together for business and lunch. As a result, the Club moved its meeting venue to the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima. In 2001 the Club moved again to the Mielparque Park Hotel and in 2005 the Club relocated to its present venue, the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel. In 1990 the Clubs mission, constitutional by-laws, standing rules and Club logo were introduced.
Because of the Clubs mission, that being English language support group for foreigners, all members needed to be reasonably fluent in conversational English. During this time the by-laws were written so that membership of the Club would consist of approximately 50% foreign and 50% Japanese women. To this day, the 50-50 ratio still remains an ultimate goal of the Club.
By 1991 membership totaled 104 women. Volunteer work continued to be part of the Clubs activities which included translating at Hiroshima Castle, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Childrens Science Museum, and the Hiroshima International Relations Organization (HIRO).
Between the years 1990 and 2005 the HIWC had continued growth in both membership numbers and the variety of Club activities offered. In March of 2005 the Club celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala formal dinner party at the Prince Hotel. Over 220 members of the Club, along with family and friends gathered to celebrate 25 years of international friendship.
Today, the Hiroshima International Womens Club still provides unique opportunities for all members to share information, goodwill, and international friendship. The Club is an important support group for foreign women who have come to live in Hiroshima for a few years or a lifetime. Apart from the General Meetings which cover a wide range of topics, the Club also offers classes, interest groups, gatherings, activities, outings, tours, craft workshops, sports programs, plus much, much more. Volunteer activities are still an important part of the Clubs activities. Today, many members enjoy visits to the Shudoin Childrens Home and translation work for museums and other facilities. We are very proud to have been able to make charitable donations to organizations within the Hiroshima area.
Walter Enloe became Principal in 1980 and his wife Kitty a teacher. He and his family had come to Kobe, Japan in 1961 when he was twelve years old, moving to Hiroshima in 1963 when Walter was already too old to attend HIS, but his sister Mary had been one of the schools very first students, and Walters own children (Isaac and Serene) subsequently attended the school in the 1980s. In fact, their story is not unique and at least two families can proudly claim an association with HIS that spans three generations.
It may be fairly argued that the school changed more under Walter Enloe than at any time before or since. He was Principal for eight years (longer than any other) and he laid both the legal and physical foundations for the school that exists today. A major reason for the developments of the 1980s was the small stake that Ford Motor Company acquired in 1979 in the Hiroshima-based car maker Mazda.
That first week as teaching principal with what seemed would be several fulltime jobs I found myself saying, Well thank God Ive just spent nine years teaching at the Paideia School while earning a PhD in a fulltime academic program with some consulting work on the side. As Paul indicated, the head of Paideia, in his letter of recommendation for the HIS position, Walter has taught at more levels and in more programs than any teacher at Paideia, in a school noted for hard work. If you show up on Sunday afternoon he will be the one teacher in his classroom preparing for the next week. So here I was, a fulltime principal and a fulltime teacher! In fact Paul Bianchi was a good model for me; he was a teacher first and even as a fulltime headmaster he co-taught one high school course each term. He had real credibility with the teachers. But this was a bit different. So many problems, so much up in the air; I liked ambiguity but this was Japan where much was different that it appeared and it was Hiroshima, the a-bomb city, and a place I had called home. So the role seemed to be two fulltime positions of I took it seriously. I was young, 31, a hard-worker, and yet I had a young family who was here in part because I promised it would be interesting, adventurous and fun which meant more than being at school. To begin with the teaching role was with my least favorite group- adolescents with all their emotional, social and parental issues. I had taught multi-age, multi-grade for nine years but worked directly with adolescents only in our summer program and was yet to discover the complexities when the group was also multi-lingual, multi-national, and even multi-class. Paideia was a K-12 school and I had actually taught high school 9th graders who had years before been in my half-day kindergarten class, so I could relate to them; I just didnt like them . Fortunately I had learned much observing and conversing with master teachers like Barbara Dunbar and Robert Falk; but it was the author Pat Conroys buddy, Bernie Schein, who taught middle school at Paideia who showed me the key to this age group was honoring and cultivating their true emotions rather than focus on their pure reason as the secret to fostering adolescent creativity, belonging, intrinsic motivation and self-identity. You have to nurture their hopefulness that they are good folks and the world generally is a good place. Bernies masterpiece, If Holden Caulfield Were in My Classroom captures a life-time of teaching and learning with these wonderful kids. This teacher role demanded not only commitment as a self-contained teacher of grades 6-9 but there were also expectations to support our growing after school ESL language program and our Saturday afternoon program for Returnees, Japanese kids who had lived at three years in an English-speaking country and had returned home now attending Japanese schools.
The principals role was also daunting and a challenge in part because there were political issues I wasnt going to let go of. On the one hand there was the lack of proper legal status, the lack of owning land and a suitable building , and the lack of educational accreditation. On the other hand while I had lived in Japan and spoke Japanese, while I had lived in Hiroshima from 1963-1973 and my parents, still there, who had now lived in Hiroshima for seventeen years, I was still and forever an outsider. I had not managed large sums of money but had prepared budgets. I had advertized my programs at Paideia but had no PR experience in either selling a school as a brand, or trying to create a brand in a foreign country. But I did have fabulous bi-lingual bookkeeper Mrs. Nobori (born in Hawaii, worked 30 years for ABCC) and a knowledgeable office/program manager Terri Sato (whose husband Miki was a Mazda executive and they lived three years in LA)and a neighborhood liaison Sakae Nakai (whose husband was a surgeon who welcomed our community with whatever emergency or referral needed). But we had little if any political or social capital and we did not own either land or our building.
Over the next several years a cast of characters came together to act a number of scenes and narratives, some intentional, some with unintended consequences.
We had a number of consuming issues, ones that I woke up at 3 am thinking and sweating about; in fact the problems we faced I couldnt give away to those Miyajima monkeys atop their mountain rocks; monkeys that if you started at them would spit and growl or chase you. we faced several Catch-22s. On the one hand we were viewed by the general public, as well by most business and governmental leaders as the rich, entitled Americans who really didnt have an insurmountable problem that with a little Yankee ingenuity and some capital investment could easily solve our problems. It was a matter of will and investment. On the other hand we were a profit-making entity, a business like the local language school, and if our building or funding was inadequate that was as private business matter to be resolved by our owner-landlord. And anyway, the owner is American Japanese and supposedly a Christian. Hands off. Private business, bottom line. Cant help. Good luck. I heard this a hundred times. And as the current Mayor said, You are the American School, and you can solve your own problems. You dont need us. The status you seek is not a legal status given by the City. Its a Prefectural and federal government granted status. Moreover, the non profit status, gakko hojin, has not been obtained by any international school since before World War II. Be satisfied with your current status. A nail that raises its head above the board gets knocked down So be careful. A number of your families are already breaking the law and are fined each year for sending their kids to your school (compulsory law reads that Japanese children must go to Japanese schools, even the mixed race kids they were referring to, as well as the international Japanese student who had lived in Europe with her parents for ten years and spoke French and English better than Japanese.) The knock against these kids is they were behind their classmates in Japanese; the meritocracy demanded they catch up on their own; Japanese schools had no specialists for these kinds of kids.. So despite all the odds against me beginning with teaching fulltime and being the schools lead teacher, including teaching Monday, Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoon, I wasnt giving up on this growing vision and therefore mission to have an authentic, contributing to Hiroshima international school. It was a good idea. So here I was trying to resolve our dilemma and over the next several years I came up with a number of schemes and plans and tried a variety of paths- mostly dead ends and knocked on every door possible, most locked or no one was home. The catch-22 was this: in order to obtain nonprofit status the institution had to its own land and building; but in order to receive donations or funding for example, to buy property, you first had to own your own property and building. So we really were caught between a rock and a hard place.
In retrospect, my first and most important advisor throughout this whole time was my father Winton. If he were alive today, he would probably point out that as a minister and JSL speaker (Japanese Second Language), he was foremost an active, tuned-in listener. But he was much more- he was a great participant observer of cultures and peoples; he was naturally inquisitive, curious, clever and he seemed always to think deeply before speaking. For him actions meant more than just words. My family moved to Japan in 1961. We were a relatively old family to be missionaries for the
Presbyterian Church, and there were four kids, me being the oldest; four kids ages 12-5 years was the primary reason we were selected for Japan instead of the Congo or Brazil where schooling was more difficult to obtain. My mothers father was also a Presbyterian minister, a home missionary sent from the north t o minister seven rural churches across north Mississippi. My parents were active in the First Presbyterian Church, Alexandria Louisiana, and had some point felt called, and purposefully went to seminary to become missionaries. Several early important mentors for my parents were the Dr. Aiken Taylor family, the minister at First Presbyterian who later became the editor of the conservative Presbyterian Journal, and then a seminary president who strongly supported foreign missions. And then there was the Dr L. Nelson Bell family, former medical missionaries to China, who now retired lived at the Presbyterian retreat center at Montreat, N.C. where we lived for two months before heading for Japan. He was the father-in-law of Billy Graham whose family also lived at Montreat. After the War, fighting in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines, my dad finished college hoping to become a medical doctor but instead became a physical theraphy director for the Veterans Administration in central Louisiana. During this time he considered becoming a minister and finally in 1958 the family moved to Atlanta. He was the oldest in his seminary class, graduated first with highest honors and displayed an uncanny ability in mastering languages, first Hebrew and Greek, and later Japanese.
When Kitty and Isaac and I moved to Hiroshima in 1980 we began a weekly tradition that we continued the next eight years. Mondays, being my parents day off, we would each dinner together each Monday evening, alternating between our homes (and sometimes meeting up at church on Sundays. These Mondays became a time when I, increasingly angry, tired, frustrated or exhausted, would vent and lets off steam with my Dad concerning school issues, political problems, and personal failures to resolve a problem. He would quietly listen, sometimes counsel, sometimes inquire: Have you considered
.? Have you talked with
.? Have you reflected on this issue from another perspective? These sessions were both helpful and cathartic for me. Gradually I learned to be measured with him, to control my emotions to some degree and to think through an issue in greater detail before sharing it with him. Later I discovered these conversations were often good for him too because they helped him reflect on his own work in Japan.
My parents had now been in Japan twenty years with seventeen in Hiroshima, and were well-connected in the community. If my parents had an uncanny ability to learn languages and adapt to almost any socio-cultural situation, they also understood how to organize. They both had great people skills. They genuinely liked people. They were both respectful and collaborative and empathic of others; they understood the human condition. I know my Dad had been impacted by his engagement in the organizing and demonstrating at the Interdenominational seminary at Atlanta University during the Civil Rights Movement. I know he had studied the social gospel of Reinhold Niebuhr and knew of the work of Myles Horton and Highlander Folk School. But my mothers father, Rev. E.E. Stidham or brother Stidham had a great influence. He had for many years seven churches in northern Mississippi (and was Progressive Farmers minister of the year), preaching at three one Sunday, four the next, with all of the leadership and counseling for the seven congregations. And of course my parents were respectful of their elders and must have learned well church planting from older missionaries. In fact they were really good learners and understood deeply gambare or perseverance and commitment. Roughly over 30 years they organized three churches with legal status, a church building and manse, and new Japanese ministers. And with their dear friend Mr. Ihara created the Grace Rehabilitation Center, the national model and first day program and residential center for handicapped adults providing meaningful employment, therapy, and fellowship. But it was towards the end of their career when the fifty family neighborhood association of a new housing development overlooking the Inland Sea chose him first as Vice Chair and years later elected him Chair. It was unheard of that a foreigner would hold such positions. I think it was the result of my parents personalities, values and approach to their professional work. They developed lasting friendships in their daily lives. They were civil to and respectful of all. They genuinely liked people. They learned the language, oral and written, and were interested in all aspects of Japanese culture. Japanese folks were often surprised to discover their home (which my mom designed) had a Japanese tatami (rice straw floor) room, they possessed a large amount of folk arts, they had a Japanese zen garden and pond, had a traditional Japanese bath, and not only ate but cooked Japanese meals. They lived their faith, they did not proselytize.
My mother became close friends, close as possible with monthly coffees or lunches with each wife of the current Governor and Mayor, as well as top executives of Mazda and other companies, people who had travelled, who spoke another language. Both parents became good friends with the Kuramotos, and most refined and cultured couple. Dr. Kuramoto was head of the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, whose a-bomb medical wing was home of Sadako Sasaki as she died from leukemia. And so I went to the Kuramotos, the Governor and the current Mayor for advice.
My dad was also close friends with Dr. Hirose, President of Jogakuin, a private Methodist related institution of five thousand-- college with a attached junior/senior high (where my sister and brother-in-law taught for two years; and where building owner Mr. Funakoshi taught) and a progressive kindergarten (which my son Isaac attended as the only gaijin, one of his first words at age three; he thought it meant friend not outsider). The college and kindergarten were located within several kilometers of HIS and had substantial land, the college spread through a valley that made its way to the top of flattened hill with sports grounds of perhaps four soccer fields. It was my dream to put an international school building at the corner of that field. Isaac and I played there at least several afternoons a week after school and the only activity seemed to be track meets, an occasional softball game or the annual undokai or sports day.
So I began my quest for sponsorship with Dr. Hirose, trying to practice what I had learned about organizing, from my parents, from my colleges experiences and from the early founding years of Paideia School: have a clear purpose, an articulate plan limited two pages, translated; understand the local culture, history and politics; develop authentic relationship; be civil with civility, and persist with determination knowing when to stop or back-down.
When I first returned home to Hiroshima in 1980 I had been gone for fourteen years though I had returned to Japan several times. The first weeks home I met with the Mayor and his staff and was welcomed, told that if I stayed longer than past principals I might accomplish something, and reminded that although an outsider I was to uphold the sacred values of the community; I was a role model for children and adults. I was also interviewed by the local newspaper and a short article appeared in the Chugoku Shinbun about the schools new principal and his (my) connection to the city. Within a week I heard from two old high school friends I hadnt been in touch with. Watanabe, with whom I rode the streets on his cycle now ran his familys plumbing business. Keiko my next door neighbor and a year older, whose hibakusha father despised me, had become a flight attendant for Japan Airlines (thanks, she said, to my English conversations) and now was the wife of a Mazda executive and mother of two small children. They welcomed me back. Watanabe and I made plans to get together; I was never to meet Keiko again.Both were interested in how at age 31 I had a doctorate (more rarer degree than US) and was a principal (the average Japanese principal had 25 years of teaching experience. Watanabe thought it must be the gaijin way.
Mr. Funakoshi, the building owner, was also impressed with my credentials. Having a principal young and with a Ph.D. with roots in Hiroshima (and the older brother of Molly who had taught at Jogakuin) could only help him with status for his school and would definitely help his business plan. But from the beginning of this relationship it was pretty obvious that he seemed to think I was either a pushover or that I understood the ways things were down in Japan, or perhaps both were true. He was 55 years, at the end of his undistinguished teaching career (Molly said he was the old grammar translation didactic teacher who could not hold an English conversation with a four year old native speaker)., and ready for his new international school business. He had a senior- junior boss mentality based upon the traditional Japanese relationship found throughout the culture. Roughly senpai means mentor and kohai roughly translates as protégé. However the relationship is more than simple seniority with obligatory respect for the place of elders. It was a relationship based upon reciprocal obligations. Essentially the kohai respects and obeys his or her senpai, and the senpai is obligated to guide, teach, and respect the kohai as best he/she can. But Mr. Funakoshi was mistaken. I was highly civil, respectful of elders and culture, but I wasnt anybodys boy. This was not a senpai-kohai relationship you found on the Hiroshima Carp baseball team where the younger or new members (kohai) did menial tasks like carrying water and cleaning shoes of the senpai. No this was gong to be a mutually respectful, equitable relationship based upon reciprocity, but the young Dr. Enloe wasnt a pushover; I was more of a character actor, changing roles with nuance and style as the scenes dictated.
I made it clear why I was taking this job both in my application and interview, and with the Mayors staff, the newspaper and my parents (I had yet to have a staff meeting or write a school brochure on my educational philosophy). First, I wanted to help establish an authentic, legal, non-profit international school of the highest standard, much like I had been part of in the first nine years of the Paideia School I was leaving. I wanted students (and parents and staff) to experience the richness and diversity of both Japanese and international culture, leaving Hiroshima, Japan appreciative of its people and culture, and reciprocally, I wanted us to become recognized for helping Hiroshima realize itself as the city of peace and culture. Second, I wanted my wife and young son to experience deeply a culture and people I had come to deeply love and respect by being actively engaged in exploring the landscape and culturescape. (And over the welcome friends to visit/ or live with us in Japan: Jennifer Swift, Mickie Hearth Holmes, Phil Lewin, Randy & Evy & Anna Morris, Don Nilson, Bart Aronoff, Frank Chew, Bill Heiber, Molly & Dan Heiber, Steve Leeper and Elizabeth Baldwin with Dean and Yoshio, John & Leigh Healy among others. Finally I wanted my family to be here to support my father and mother as my dad battled prostate cancer; in retrospect, though my Dad was in remission ,I was in search of a deeper and more open relationship with him. We had become estranged in part because of my rejection of arguments for intervention in Vietnam, and my refusal, under threat of imprisonment, to even take the military induction physical. By the time I was a spring freshman (after meeting Senator Eugene McCarthy) I was an active anti-war activist becoming Student Association President the week of the riots and deaths at Kent State, May, 1970 and my publication of the editorial We Love America But
on the Sunday editorial page of the Saint Petersburg Times. While he was appreciative of my engagement in the southern Civil Rights movement (Walter was always for the underdog) including being jailed several times, he was dumbfounded by my rejection at the time of organized religion even I had read in 1968 Martin Luther
King Jr.s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
With the advice of my father, my next political act after meeting the Mayor was to hire a lawyer. Lawyers are rare in Japan with most legal issues, at least between folks, resolved through alternative dispute resolution. But our situation was more serious and more complex, so I retained a bi-lingual law professor who advised us pro bono, and after the requisite dining out and bar hopping, he gave me three or four meshi (business cards) to hand out at the appropriate time. Then I made a formal appointment to meet Mr. Funakoshi at the school with a simultaneous translator. We met for an hour, neither of us showing our trump cards. He was waiting to hear from the Board Chair on his request to be an ex officio member.
I had learned quickly that people expected me to speak fluent Japanese, that is, as fluent as a barbarian could learn Japanese. So I would from then on in these formal situations, e.g. with government official, school leaders, Mazda executives, introduce myself in flawless Japanese with all the appropriate formalities, and after their usual response that my Japanese was so good, I would say in Hiroshima-ban or dialect, Oh no, Japanese is so difficult, I dont understand a thing. Following laughter and smiles, I introduced my translator, Terri Sato or Mayumi Yingling.
Several weeks later I invited Mr. Funakoshi out for dinner and drinks and to a Hiroshima Carp game where I introduced him before the game to Jim Lyttle and he in turn introduced us to the great Yamamoto Koji and the Iron Man, Japanese-African American Kinugasa Sachio. Soon afterwards, he invited Kitty and I to his home for dinner where his gracious wife prepared a traditional, full course banquet. After dinner we set out in his garden and he gave me a seven page document he labeled his dream school (written as a non-legal memo dated February 1979, he had given to the current principal, though he never shared it with me or even mentioned its contents when I met him in Oregon). His dream I had already sensed: an international school for foreigners, an American kindergarten for Japanese and foreign kids (though this was to change to progressive and Montessori after meeting Kitty and I), and an afterschool Language School for local children that later would be expanded to adults including conversational English and professional English. Somehow this all was to occur in a small building built for no more than fifty children at any give time.
It was obvious Mr. Funakoshi the owner had little understanding of the current school programs and services or empathy with its staff. The school had a small 1 teacher (Miyagi sensei) after school English program for some twenty neighborhood children that could easily be expanded. Terri Sato, the office manager, and hr husband Miki had recently returned to Hiroshima from LA where he was an executive for Mazda; their two wonderful girls Remi and Yumi were bi-lingual and Terri was organizing a Returnee program for these kids and other families, Mazda and university connected families who had similar overseas experiences. I planned to grow both of these programs before ever reading Mr. Funakoshis nonstrategic memo, dream school. Even though we were owned by Funakoshi as a profit-making school, in spirit and practice I viewed us as a non-profit institution governed by a Board of Directors of which I was a member.
Several days after Mr. Funakoshi wined and dined us, he called and invited me to go on a trip to his country club. I agreed and he picked me up with one his friends whose nickname was Samu (Sam) and who was driving a Sign of the Cat, a brand new Ford Mercury Cougar. He was definitely counter-cultured. For one thing he had a mustache, a short burr haircut, with several rings and missing index pinkie. Slacks and a madras patterned shirt. All he needed was a hat; besides he had the Cougar and he had all the signs of a hipster or gangster though that had to be verified. I didnt see any tattoos but I sensed he was a gokudo or yakuza (Japanese crime syndicate though the organization liked to portray itself as a ninkyo dantai (chivalrous organization). It turned out he was a member of yamaguchi-guni, Japans largest crime family with some fifty thousand members in 850 clans. Its headquarters was Kobe but its largest groups were in Hiroshima; it was its largest playground largely because the syndicate had bought up cheap atomic wasteland and then created Japans largest per capita night water trade entertainment district, composed of thousands of bars, salons, restaurants, brothels and pachinko parlors.
We drove out into the countryside into the Chugoku mountains north of the city where we had lunch in the new club with its 18-hole golf course. During lunch Mr. Funakoshi spoke of his expanding dream school. He wanted me to move the school to a new location in the western part of the city. Mr. Samu would help us relocate, in fact he had identified a building we could lease. And he owned a trucking company that would move us for free. When did he want this to happen? Next week. It was already August and school opened in three weeks. As soon as possible, he intoned. He seems to be directing me. But first we must have the permission of the schools board of directors, I said. You can just tell them what to do, he said. We both knew they were a weak board. And I knew that the leadership was in the last year of their tenure and were more interested in avoiding conflict or controversy than solving problems. But we have a problem or two. First, nobody bosses me around or tries to manipulate me and gets away with it. Mr. Funakoshi had lost with me and I had no respect for him or his ways of doing business. Second all of us new teachers had new rentals and three months key monies had been paid in advance and contracts signed. All of us lived within a five minute walk to the school; Mr. Samu was not offering his automobile and I couldnt see any of us travelling 30-45 minutes each way.
But more importantly and Mr. Funakoshi knew this. The schools land and location were valuable. An upper middle class neighborhood with a large park/play ground across the street, there was nothing like it in this area of Hiroshima. These were the families that would pay tuition for English and tutoring classes but he needed a willing partner or to be done with us at all cost, bringing in his own hires for a kotoba no gakko (language culture school). Finally, irrespective now of who was teaching or going to the school, HIS had been at this location for fifteen years and had an excellent relationship with families and citizens in the local area.
So I was surprised but not shocked when he proposed that if I could move the school he would give me a special gift. He offered me membership in the country club. An entrance fee equivalent to $25,000 and yearly fees were to be paid until I left the school. He had made a terribly stupid move. My father had been a great amateur golfer when young, and today, on his days off, le loved to play at area clubs and was in fact better than most folks he played with. Mr. Funakoshi and Samu had assumed I played golf perhaps because my Dad and I have the same name (he Junior, me the Third) and his reputation preceded me. I too had been a above average collegiate athlete, soccer and baseball, but I hated golf. In fact I had never played nine holes! Then there was the bribe. I wasnt crossing that line. Over the next weeks I was in a classic samurai Akido battle. It was an apt metaphor not because the martial art Akido is my favorite (though I studied kendo) but its captured our little tango as a way of the harmonious spirit where you take the motions (power) of your opponent (attacker) and redirect his force rather than take him on headfirst. Phone calls, unannounced visits, an Andersen cake for Kittys birthday. And then Mr. Samu shows up with two moving vans parks in front of the school for the weekend and the message spreads through the local neighborhood that the HIS is moving. It was time to involve directly my Board. They were not really interested in my vision or Mr. Funakoshis dream. The chairman, Mr. Kropp argued we had a new facility, a sound legal agreement and that Mr. Funakoshis bluster and threats were silly and futile Dont make much out of this Walter. Dont make a mouse seem like an elephant. So at our next Board meeting I invited my lawyer friend who was both a professor of law, a practicing lawyer and a licensed mediator and life-balance specialist (nakadachinin) who taught both litigation and alternative dispute resolution. And in his words he had an international heart and mind (kokusaijin). The Board meeting was as I suspected. The Board didnt want to be either proactive or direct; avoid conflict, achieve harmonious relations; dont rock the boat.. Or even better forget your anthropological studies of cultural conflict (inside-outside, individualistic-collectivist) and assume this political stance: dont ask, dont tell; and if I dont ask theres neither a question nor an answer. Focus on your teaching and teacher leadership duties. So thats what I did, or so it appeared.
Slowly I realized that I would have to differentiate my roles and work load- teaching kids first, being a good colleague and leader with in-house school matters, working with the Board and honoring my own self-initiative and vision above and beyond traditional school matters and hours. I realized like at Paideia this is not simply a 9-5 job; it is my life and I might ass well let it consume me so I could embody it in the moment, in the present working towards a future. So as an organizer I took advantage of my family connections, both my parents acquaintances and friends as a couple and individually. Behind the public backdrop I met folks at their homes, offices and even a coffee or sweet shop, or if they wanted at the HIS. I would use my organizing mantra: an important component in becoming the international city of peace and culture was to have a legal, nonprofit international school. I never argued that we needed a new building. Most Japanese schools either the old wooden variety or the concrete block ones were functional, Spartan- multi-story buildings; they had no elevators or central air, (classrooms and halls had no heat) and the playgrounds had no grass. After first meeting with the Mayor, I then ventured to the local governments international Relations section, later in the late 1980s to become HIRO (Hiroshima International Relations Organization). The section chief and his junior were befriended, not only with the usual dinner, drinks and more drinks, but inviting to the school and special events, and later to American barbeque & picnic at our home. The school had already made contributions to the community, as I indicated, with its Guide for foreign residents, its monthly Signpost magazine, its burgeoning work with Returnees. I was asked to English edit the citys major pr picture book, Hiroshima, and later the book for Mayors for Peace. I began with HIROs help speaking at various international oriented events, including teacher education seminars and lectures at Hiroshima National University. We began school exchanges, both with our closest Japanese schools as well as rural schools and the prefectures school for handicapped children. We made Peace Wish cards and visited the local A-bomb hospital and retirement homes. Then I had another idea: visibility. Lets join the Hiroshima Festival held annually during Golden Week from May 3 through May 5. The festival began several years earlier based on a yearly tradition and attracts over a million people each year. Along Peace Boulevard and in Hiroshima Peace Park there are two parades the Flower on May 3 and the Yosakoi parade on May 5, twenty some stages for entertainment with concerts, dancing shows, fashion shows, talk shows and a variety of traditional and contemporary performances featuring both local talent and national stars, as well as candlelight services with peace application identified the festivals three themes (in English):
1. Make Hiroshima full of flowers, greens, and music; 2. Share the brightness and dignity of life with all people; 3. Appeal for a warm-hearted cultural and personnel interchange from Hiroshima to the world. After some brainstorming with Abe sensei and the teachers, we decided we would march in the inaugural parade, if accepted, with our international school banner and we would construct large puppets , ten feet tall with large heads and hands that could wave to the crowds. Years earlier in the winter of 1971 I was in last months of my senior year, and student association president at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida when New Yorks Bread and Puppet Theatre spent a week at the college after their fall residency at Goddard College. They taught a puppet making teach-in and I learned to make the large heads and hands out of paper Mache. We were accepted for the parade as well as to perform on the center stage in Peace Park with introductions and two songs. The kids created five puppets, an international family of different heights from dad to mom to the kids. Each puppet took three people. The body pole and head took one adult to carry. From the neck hung floor length bright cloth (clothes). A student for each arm and hand held a connecting rod and caused the hand and arm to move greeting passersby. It was a unique, wonderful contribution with the several hundred parade acts or groups; only an occasional burst of wind threatened us.
On stage Miyagi san interviewed me and our oldest student, Morten from Denmark, and then I played two songs on my guitar as we sang. The only audiences I had ever played for were my kindergarten students. It was really hot. I was very nervous so I wore a Santa Claus beard as a mask to hide behind as we performed. Those two performances garnered us more media attention than ever received before (other than the NHK television report in 1968. We were so successful that every year after we expanded our involvement. Several years later Mazda donated a tent and tables and chairs and we had a large booth where the PTA sold International Treats (cookies, brownies, lemonade) and handed out brochures on the school and its programs. So our participation that Spring, 1981 set a new standard for engagement and participation and within two years people associated with the school had helped organize an annual Hiroshima Peace Jazz Festival (organized by former Emory professor Don Nilson in 1982), the fall PEACELOVE festival (Steve Leeper was an early leader in 1986), and the Intergenerational Families for Peace Picnic on Hijiyama Hill (where ABCC was located & initiated by fellow Paideia teacher Randy Morris teaching grades 6-8 at HIS 1982-1985), as well as our schools annual Undokai (sports day and picnic), Gakugeikai (cultural entertainment performance of traditional Japanese and contemporary dance, music, theater), and HIS Bazaar (where by 1986 teacher David Miller had organized an extravagant arts, crafts and antique furniture silent auction raising thousands of dollars )(yen) for the students various travel and service projects.
Then there was the teachers union, the most radical, left of center group in Japan. Lie the City and Prefectures international relations section, the teachers union claimed leadership in international relations with its emphasis on peace education, read anti-nuke education, and its unwillingness to be anything less than a spokesperson for self-righteous indignation; they sought our involvement in their peace education curriculum as a pilot of their first English version; they also saw as us as international, at least they understood that the United States and the British Commonwealth countries were not identical- that while the barbarians might all look alike, there were distinguishing political characteristics. And never label an Australian an American, mate! Moreover, they were respectful of us as teachers and were intrigued if not amazed that our senior level class had a two year thematic curriculum focused on the history and cultural of Hiroshima from Paleolithic times to the contemporary, and that our programs emphasized peace education through active civic engagement (tolerance, mutual understanding, mutual respects) base upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; that as an authentic international school we co-negotiated a curriculum rather than follow American Canadian or British; that we studied Japanese language and cultural forms; that our service orientation not only included school cleaning chores, older younger classroom pairings but our 100%-33%-33%-34% approach was highly unusual: 33% of our fundraising which to the class or group in charge; 33% went to the whole schools projects; and 34% went to UNICEF and The Childrens Defense Fund. Several years later when we started the 1000 Crane Club (1985) the teachers union commented, HIS is a leader and model of children leading through local and international service. The teachers union along with professors at local universities were also interested in dialogue on peace education pedagogy, curriculum and their interface with social studies, conflict resolution and international, multicultural, world, and the growing concept of global education.