2023年4月、アメリカ、ニューヨークにあるTrevor Day Schoolで、ラウンドスクエアの交換留学生として過ごした生徒からの報告です。”To Wrest Gold Out Of Charcoal: The Promise That I Took Home With Me” と題した報告書から一部を抜粋します。

As soon as I stepped onto the New Yorkian soil (or more like concrete), I laughed because I really did not know why I had ended up here again. Imagine: I could go to any city (or countryside) in the world, and in three out of three times I had the chance to go somewhere outside of Japan (excluding the trip to Bali I went with my school last winter), someone had chosen this small particular island called Manhattan for me. Why, why was this city sticking onto me like some fervent pest? And why was I destined to return to it again and again? But slowly I came to this conclusion: that New York was to be my involuntary homeland. Your homeland, or how you call it ふるさと in Japanese, is something that you don’t choose: you don’t choose where you are born and where you spend your first years growing up; it’s beautiful precisely because you don’t choose it, because you give yourself over to this passive state of listening and choosing nothing, and in this great feeling of the origin that does not concern you that’s where beauty is. For this reason, Japan is my voluntary homeland—I choose Japan so much in order to defend with all my might this empty unconditionality where not-choosing is already sanctified and full to the brim. Everywhere I would go I would choose Japan: that’s the only way to “see” the original un-choice. Or perhaps it’s this: the great original un-choice was already done in my birth and the childhood years that I spent in Japan, and now, since this un-choice is about to end, I’m feeling a responsibility to carry it on and to preserve its gift through choosing it, through choosing to see it by throwing myself into another man’s land. But in this sense New York is something that continues to stick with me; its un-choice is continuing to exercise itself… Like New York is the 拠点 of my outside. And even this I did not choose… Could it be that it is my “secondary” homeland? Or even a “second” one?

These black-and-white photos were taken with a film camera in photography class.

This time, I went with the sole mission “to meet new people”. And sure I did. And what is so beautiful about these 出会い is that I did not choose them: they simply came to me, and I merely welcomed them. Not choosing, then, is our motto from now on. The most important things for us are what is not included in some directory of need…

We then developed these photos with our own (gloved) hands.

The third person I met in New York is the ghost of a poet to come…
To come, to come, he promises in the poem that appears at the end of this entry: the days to come right now here in Hachioji, the golden, warm, and lively little candles. I took these days home with me. 
What I gather from the poem:
Matisse said that his whole life is inside the walls of his studio. Me: everything starts inside the walls of my room. This is another thing I grew more aware of. I write, I read, I dream about the things that I love and admire all here in this little room where I’m writing this. But it does not end there. Where it ends, for me, is where we would meet: so that when I meet you, I would “see” you with an even deeper gaze, and even deeper, deeper… I am developing a certain gaze with my writing, and towards what Clarice Lispector would call something like sensitizing yourself in order to expand your capability of love. Ithaka. Do not rush the future. Rather, it is the ability/姿勢 to always wrest gold from charcoal that we must never lose. 

Coming back home, I realized how true it was that our gods are alive, as that one theater director said… In the West we must become all too human, but here we have the luxury to stay the same. This too is another one of my 際 that I possess: I am both a participant in the city of gods and a perceiver of those very gods with my humanized flesh at the same time. 
    I am thankful to Ms. Casey, Ms. Nakagawa, my host family, and all the teachers that I spoke to at Trevor Day School who made this experience possible for me. This exchange program was a window to my upcoming years that I’m planning to spend at a U.S. college. And now most of all I feel so thankful that I can reside in this city of gods for another year before I move on to tend to my “other” homeland…