by Bill Gordon

Lisa - New Blue-eyed Doll
at Shukugawara Elementary School

Lisa in front of presentation board
about Friendship Doll activities
in American elementary schools
 

On February 27, 2002, Shukugawara Elementary School received the special gift of a new Blue-eyed Doll from Sidney Gulick, 3d, and his wife Frances. During the past 15 years, they have sent about 150 dolls to elementary schools and kindergartens in Japan. Sidney Gulick, 3d, is the grandson of Dr. Sidney Gulick, who coordinated the international goodwill project to send almost 13,000 dolls from American children to Japanese children in 1927.

My wife Noriko had visited Shukugawara Elementary in June of last year, and I had visited the school in November. Therefore, many of the students at the school had met us before. Noriko and I know very well the family of one of the fourth-grade students at the school, so it was a very special event for us to visit the school to present the new Blue-eyed Doll from the Gulicks to the students.

The sixth-grade students at the school did an excellent job in planning a memorable ceremony to welcome the new doll from America. As an introduction, one of the sixth-grade students expressed that the students were surprised at the terrorist incident that occurred last year on September 11. The students were very sad when they heard about such a cold-blooded act. They wanted to do as much as possible for the American people who had been hurt. The children thought that it was very good that President Bush of America came to Japan and had a meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi so that the friendship between Japan and America could become closer.

 
Listening to
Student's Talk
 
 
After a brief speech by the school principal, Mr. Tameya, a couple of sixth-grade boys presented an excellent slide show on the results of their research about the Blue-eyed Dolls sent by American children to Japan in 1927. They explained that the dolls still remain at schools from Hokkaido in the north (Bikuni Elementary School) to Kyushu in the south (Kagami Elementary School). The boys showed a photo of the bronze statue to commemorate the Blue-eyed Dolls at Yamagata City Daiichi Elementary School.

The show by the sixth graders included several slides on San Diego, where I am working now. They mentioned the year-round warm weather in San Diego, and the slides included one about the surfing and kayaking at nearby La Jolla, but the students seemed most impressed by the fact that San Diego had a major league baseball team, the Padres, that played against Ichiro of the Seattle Mariners. I had never thought that one of the major attractions of San Diego was that Ichiro played a few times a year against the city's baseball team, but it just shows the immense popularity of Ichiro in Japan!

 
In Principal's Office
 
 
Next I gave a speech about the American Blue-eyed Dolls, both those sent in 1927 and those sent more recently by Sidney and Frances Gulick. Noriko then talked about the Japanese Friendship Dolls, including the 58 dolls sent to America in 1927 and those dolls sent more recently to many American schools through the program established by the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute. She also encouraged the students to come visit America and help try to find Miss Kanagawa, the Japanese Friendship Doll named after the prefecture where Shukugawara Elementary School is located. Miss Kanagawa is one of the missing 14 dolls of the 58 Japanese Friendship Dolls sent to the United States in 1927.

I read a letter from Mr. Gulick in English and in a Japanese translation. Next, I presented the New Blue-eyed Doll named Lisa to student representatives. Lisa's long brown hair, almost to her waist, surprised many students. Noriko showed the students the travel bag and nightgown handmade by Mrs. Gulick. Next, I read Lisa's American passport both in English and in Japanese:

     Name:  Lisa
     Eyes (color):  blue
     Hair (color):  brown
     Date of birth:  February 2, 1994
     Place of birth:  Adelphi, Maryland, USA
     Date of issue:  February 16, 2002
     Date of expiration:  Never
     Passport number:  1602022002
     Signature of parent:  Frances Gulick

The passport also included a cute photograph of Lisa.

 
Talking to Students About
American Friendship Dolls
 
 
Each grade at the welcome assembly sang a beautiful song, with the "Train" song by the 4th-grade students being especially memorable. At the end of the ceremony, Noriko received a bouquet of flowers and I received a chochin (Japanese lantern) with my name "Bill Gordon" written in Chinese characters.

On March 2, before leaving Japan, Noriko and I received over 200 letters of thanks from the 4th and 5th graders at the school. A few of these thank-you letters have been translated to English. The letters show how much the students learned about the true message of the Friendship Dolls.

Return to American Blue-eyed Dolls - New Dolls

Friendship Visits - February and March 2002

November 2001 Friendship Visit to Shukugawara Elementary School


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