On May 24, Byakko Shinko Kai hosted the second Gift Symposium at Yotsuya Kumin Hall in Tokyo. The title ‘Gift’ comes from the idea that each of us has a gift—an innate talent or ability that, once discovered, creates happiness for ourselves and also for others, thus helping to make the world a better place. First held in 2010, the symposium is designed as a forum for young people to share their ‘gift’—personal experiences that transformed their lives, and/or an account of the work they have been doing—and to offer a message to the Japanese audience, encouraging people to discover and make use of their own gifts.
Byakko Deputy Chairperson Yuka Saionji and Vice Chairpersons Maki and Rika Saionji organized and hosted the event, serving both as MCs and as interpreters. The event was divided into two separate presentations—the first in the afternoon, and the second in the evening. The afternoon symposium began with a slideshow presentation submitted by Ms. Leah Pearlman, who was unable to come to Japan as planned. Following this were presentations by Mr. Ben Hart, Ms. Daniela Arredondo de Kehoe, and Mr. Sunny Forsyth. The other youth participants—Ms. Barbara Arredondo, Mr. Madhusudan Agrawal, and Mr. Ocean Robbins—gave presentations at the evening symposium. They were joined by Ms. Maki Hirami from Japan, who founded a group called Santa no Yome (Santa’s Ladies), whose activities are centered around making others happy through surprise gift-giving.
Opening each symposium was an eight-minute video introducing the youth participants and their participation in the SOPP ceremony, post-ceremony discussion, and visit to Tohoku. Mr. Kenichi Yamamoto, who also composed the music for the SOPP ceremony, performed his own compositions live on piano during this opening segment and again halfway through each symposium.
Both the afternoon and evening presentations were extremely well received by the audience, many of whom remained in the lobby of the hall afterwards to meet and talk with the presenters.