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American family in Japan gets the sweetest note from their new non-English-speaking neighbor

Kindness can open the best doors.

Reddit; viral note; American family; Japanese neighbor; kindness

US family gets the sweetest note from their neighbor in Japan.

The way we come across long-lasting friendships is often unexpected. But when you're part of a military family. You learn to grab hold of the good people you meet and carry those friendships across states and oceans. You mark your friendships based off of what base you were stationed at when you met them and know those friendships can withstand just about anything because they've been tried.

So for an American family stationed in Japan, there was no doubt at least one lifelong friendship would be made. It just may have been surprising that the friend wasn't affiliated with the military. Instead, the friend was an older Japanese man who didn't speak English and lived next door to the young family in Yokosuka, Japan.

But this isn't the first time this unique story went viral. In 2013, Reddit user Theresa52 posted a picture of a note that she received from her neighbor-turned-friend. People loved the letter and sweet story attached. Theresa explained that after moving to their new neighborhood in Japan, she and her husband passed out beer and chocolate to their neighbors. A few hours later, they met, Hiroshi Yamashita, their new neighbor and one of the recipients of their gift.


When Yamashita knocked on the family's door, he presented them with gifts of his own—toilet paper, stuffed animals and a note. In the thread Theresa noted, "Things that are consumable and household necessities are popular gifts. We have heard lots of stories about people getting laundry soap," after someone asked if toilet paper was a common housewarming gift in Japan. The stuffed animals were for their infant daughter at the time.

Reddit; viral note; American family; Japanese neighbor; kindness

Letter on lined paper

i.imgur.com

But the note is what keeps going viral. It starts out, "I can’t speak English. Thank you for the present. My name is Hiroshi Yamashita. I’m 52 years old. [I’m divorced] and I live alone.” Since Yamashita didn't speak English, the note had some spots that were difficult to understand but the intent was clearly pure.

Theresa wrote in the comments of the post that it appeared that he was asking if her husband was in the Navy. While the sentences are out of order a bit, if you reorganize them a little, it seems Yamashita is attempting to say, "I have stuffed animals and toilet paper. You can use it if you'd like."

The man concludes the letter with "Thank you for your friend operation." It seemed that he was thanking the family for their hospitality, but Reddit users surmised that he was referring to Operation Friendship in 2011 when the United States aided Japan after an earthquake. Either way, it was still friendship operation because what says friendship like taking time out of your day to write in a language you don't speak just to make sure your neighbors feel welcomed?

“It was adorable! We had brought him a six pack and some chocolate and tried to introduce ourselves to him. A couple hours later he brought over this letter with a pack of toilet paper and some stuffed animals for our daughter," Theresa wrote in the comments while joking that their initial introduction probably amused Yamashita.

Further explaining within comment threads, Theresa said that they used pointing and Google Translate when they initially met Yamashita, and in turn, he used a translator app to write the note.

Reddit; viral note; American family; Japanese neighbor; kindness

Theresa's infant daughter with large stuffed pink Minnie Mouse

i.imgur.com

Theresa shared an update in the comments about six years after the story originally went viral saying, “We all exchanged gifts and food regularly for the four years I lived there. We would go to neighborhood festivals and have dinners together as well. I miss them all and think about them often."

You never know when being kind will turn into a life long friendship. We certainly hope Yamashita and Theresa are doing just as well today and are continuing to spread their kindness around.


This article originally appeared on 2.23.23

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.


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