Sophia Seki Fox ’20 Interns with MORIUMIUS

My name is Sophia Seki Fox and I am an incoming junior in the Class of 2020. I am majoring in Business and Management and minoring in Visual Arts. I currently live in Brooklyn, New York. This summer I have been working as an intern for the Public Incorporated Association MORIUMIUS LUSAIL in Ogatsu, Miyagi. MORIUMIUS is an organization that emphasizes the importance of sustainability and a strong relationship to nature through education programs to children and adults alike. Their ultimate aim is to support and revitalize the Ogatsu community that was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2010. Before the earthquake Ogatsu was already one of many Japanese rural regions where the numbers of young residents are diminishing. This is likely due to a widespread belief in Japan that economic and/or educational achievement can only be attained in big cities like Tokyo. As a result, the average Ogatsu resident is 60~80-years-old. Therefore, its efforts to uplift Ogatsu and its people MORIUMIUS is uniquely powerful.

One of roles in this organization has been to work with other interns to promote visual literacy and inspire artistic imagination for all those who attend the site. One of the other interns and I worked together create an art workshop for eleven high school students. We were assigned to create four class over the course of four days sessions totaling 14 hours. We created a project for the students as well as a schedule for the three days of sessions. For the project we hoped to have the students take advantage of as well as appreciate the landscape around MORIUMIUS. We had students gather and saw logs of wood into plate-like slices. After cutting the wood the students were tasked with carefully sanding and removing the bark of their pieces in order to create a canvas to be painted on. We hiked with the students hike into the woods and sketch points of inspiration.

One of the most incredible things about being at MORIUMIUS has been interacting with the local people. I have been in awe of the extreme resilience of the people that reside here. Seven years ago their whole livelihoods were completely demolished by the earthquake and tsunami, but still many people work to share their stories. An 18-year-old staff member shared her recollection of March 11, 2011. I have been truly honored by and in awe of the people who have recounted their experiences from that time to me. Through this organization, I have been able to develop connections with individuals whose life experiences may be vastly different from my own. By entering this community, I believe have further cultivated my artistic and leadership abilities while simultaneously developing interpersonal skills that I will be able to bring to an organizational setting in the future.

I was initially drawn to MORIUMIUS’ emphasis on individual creativity and sustainability as fortuitous methods to elevate the next generation. After I graduate from Skidmore College I hope work outside of the U.S.. Therefore I believe it necessary to fully understand the different cultural beliefs held by people living outside the United States. Business environments are volatile, so building steadfast relationships are often necessary for an organization’s survival. Organizations often make the mistake of hiring many people that are extremely similar to one another. Whether these similarities are based on identity or values the result is the same: a culture that is too homogenous. It is important to fully embrace the idea that people are different. Different values, viewpoints, and methods add a necessary complexity to the way an organization functions and ultimately creates a more inspired environment. As a woman of mixed race I aim help others see that cultural variances are what makes the rare intersections between differing countries all the more wonderful. Being able work in a culturally diverse workforce in a unique skill that requires time and practice to acquire. At MORIUMIUS, I believe I have been able to successfully hone these abilities.

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