In February 2016 the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association was honored to be given the opportunity to host a gathering as part of the Hawaii 65th Anniversary celebrations. It was also a marvelous opportunity for an international meeting of alumni to discuss the mission of the Alumni Association.
On February 21, a dinner meeting was held with 31 alums in attendance, representing 6 countries and ranging from recent graduates to those who studied nearly 40 years ago. Many of the members were meeting for the first time; others were long-time friends. Several months prior to the meeting, UMAA reached out to the international community with an online survey for those who might be unable to travel to this event.
Through discussion and the survey, three major topics emerged that are of interest to the alums:
· learning about and participating in events around the world
· sharing knowledge of local resources
· creating UMAA regional advisors to act as conduits for information
· redesigning the UMAA website to facilitate connections among alums
· sharing Chanoyu-related knowledge and information
· hosting workshops on Chanoyu-related topics
· creating a (primarily digital) library-alums strongly supported an idea to underwrite a project for Urasenke Konnichian to digitize the 88 volumes of Chanoyu Quarterly
3) MAINTAIN RELATIONS WITH URASENKE KONNICHIAN
· keeping in touch with Kokusaibu and thus, ultimately, with the Soke
· keeping up to date with Midorikai news
· thinking of UMAA as a resource ready to be called upon to further the Soke's vision for Urasenke Chanoyu, and to put into practice the Urasenke Chanoyu training alums were so fortunate to receive.
At present, UMAA and its website are maintained by a volunteer committee working to establish a sustainable structure for the organization. At this meeting, a proposal was made to develop UMAA regional advisors. Regional advisors would maintain connections with alumni in their areas and would act as conduits of information. Furthermore, it is hoped that regional advisors will become leaders and officers of the Alumni Association in the future.
All members expressed a strong desire to have an opportunity to continue their study with an Intensive Study in Kyoto arranged with the Konnichian Headquarters. Their hope is to request such an opportunity in the near future. A specific proposal is being prepared to submit to the Headquarters.
The Urasenke Konnichian website, the English-language Urasenke Newsletter, and events such as the Hawaii 65th Anniversary are already realizing some of these dreams. We pledge to devote our energies to the international future of the Urasenke Tradition of Chanoyu.