On Saturday, October 24, I had the opportunity to participate in Mrs. Kushida’s Birthday Toast online. It was a pleasure to participate in such a well-organized and well-attended event. Though we could not meet in person, it was great to see many people I have not seen in some time.
The event began with a toast to Mr. and Mrs Kushida led by Peck-Sensei, and everyone showed their full glasses, drank and showed them empty. It was a nice accommodation to being online so that everyone could participate together from the beginning.
We next heard stories of Mrs. Kushida from Michael Dame and Mark Eslinger. It was inspiring to hear them talk about how bright and welcoming Mrs. Kushida to students entering the Dojo, how hard she trained, and how well she helped run the Dojo.
We then were able to meet in smaller groups of four or five in “breakout sessions.” This was a great way to catch up and converse with fellow students we may have not seen for some time. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and share stories about training, and about Mrs. Kushida.
Next, we heard a couple of more speeches about teaching and training remotely. Julia Cumming and Eric Schlicting both related stories of how being inspired by Mr. and Mrs Kushida’s example helped them overcome the challenges of teaching their students during the COVID lockdown.
After some more interaction with fellow students in the breakout rooms, Stephen Spielman led us through a party game of ‘mad libs’ that he had created. It was an innovative way to involve everyone in a fun time even though we could not be in a room together.
Keiko-Sensei closed the celebration with a toast in which we all, again, were able to participate in together.
Thank you to everyone who joined online to celebrate Mrs. Kushida’s Birthday Toast. I would like also to thank everyone who made this celebration a success, including Stephen Spielman who organized the agenda, Mark Reitmeier who administered the Zoom meeting, all the speakers, Keiko-sensei and especially Akira-sensei! It was great to see everyone! I hope to see all Yoshokai Aikido students again soon!