Yesterday’s email (8/17/2021) brought the message I anticipated. David Blythe of AFS International wrote me that his colleague in Japan had another conversation with Yuki’s ailing stepmother in response to a letter she/he sent to Yuki’s father. The colleague learned Yuki’s dad had passed away, and the stepmother reiterated she had had no contact with Yuki for 10 years. She knew nothing about where one could find Yuki.
When I responded with the possibility of one more contact with the stepmother requesting the whereabouts of Yuki’s sister, David graciously contacted the Japan office. Sadly, the person who has been so incredibly helpful in assisting in the search for Yuki felt it was not a good idea nor appropriate to make yet another phone call of inquiry.
So this morning after another futile internet search of mental health institutions in Japan, I have quite peacefully come to the conclusion I will not find her. Realistically, I held little or no hope from the beginning, so it’s no great let-down, just a little heartbreak. Our efforts don’t always yield the results we seek.
What I have felt, however, has been a tremendous dose of the goodness of humankind. David Blythe, Manager of Program Policy & Support at AFS International in New York, did not dismiss my desire to locate Yuki after all these years. He went above and beyond to explore every option available to assist in locating Yuki. He understood my concern, and from his office in the US did all he could to find out about Yuki. I am deeply grateful to him. He confirms for me that there are myriad people out there, most of whom I will never know, who house a kind and gentle soul, empathetic spirit, and understanding of connection.
Likewise, his colleague in Japan (whose name I don’t know) was able to connect with one of the two or three people in all the world who might have been able to provide information about Yuki. The person was under no obligation to help with my request. I can only say “thank you” to him/her via this platform; my gratitude for the kindness shown is huge.
Finally, from my family’s experience with our AFS student back in 1975-76 and my own tenure as AFS advisor at Marietta High School from 1982-1998, I recognize the value of this international exchange organization. Once one has been involved with AFS, one realizes the incredible and valuable treasure of knowing and living with people around the world brings. We are all connected in a spirit of peace and love through AFS!
So, here’s to Yuki Sento! Here’s to David Blythe and his colleague in Japan! Here’s to AFS and lifelong friendships with folks around the world!