IODA Turkey 2018 Experience

Unprecedented disasters, regardless of whatever those are man-made or natural, are always happening somewhere else in the world. News cries out for help on the Internet; empathetic emotion arises in my mind. What-if it were to happen in my life, what would follow next? In my mind came grit. A mega-typhoon, Jebi, one of which demolished many facilities in Japan, reminded me of grit to prove the value of OD.

The Kansai international airport, where I had taken off from a few days earlier and was to take off from again to travel to Turkey to the IODA conference, was sunk in the sea water. It was an “Ouch” for me! I smashed my phone and asked Emirates Airline to hold my seat to the IODA conference, but it didn’t work because I was outside of Japan. I was on a trip with my 18 students to attend a workshop of cultural diversity through experiential learning at Hanyang University in Seoul Korea.

My flight for IODA turned out to be canceled the night of September 9, 2019. Tens of thousands of the tourists who intended to depart from Kansai airport rushed to Narita and Haneda Tokyo airport to get tickets. Another major international airport was closed temporarily because a strong earthquake hit the Hokkaido. In the region, those who planned to fly abroad made a long line to try to get other tickets at both airports in Tokyo. It was natural that the price of tickets soared up to the air. The only available seats were in the first-class cabin and, obviously, the price was from US $20, 000. No way!

Just after landing back in Japan, I asked my travel agent to get the latest information on the situation. The voice from the other end of the line was monotonous and informed me that there was no chance to get any tickets to Europe. At the end of the floating talk, accidentally, the agent came up with an unusual option. It was the following:

I could go to the west edge of mainland Japan on the morning of September 11 and take a flight back to Haneda Tokyo in the evening of the same day. After landing there, I could take public transportation from there to Narita Airport in roughly 2 hours to finish the check-in safely. This would be the beginning of the regular scheduled trip to IODA Turkey. The flight would depart at 11 p.m. on the same day and land at Doha, at 3 a.m. on September 12. Finally, it would land at Istanbul airport around noon on September 12, 2018. I knew it would be a tough schedule because of the week-long classes in Seoul, Korea, but I clicked the OK button without wavering.

When I got out of the plane, I was embraced with clear sky and the fresh breeze from the Bosporus Channel. In the evening, the dining tables were filled with joy of unity as everything was OK. I felt dizzy because of the chasm from the choked situation in Korea. During the conference, a weird feeling embraced me at break-time. Perhaps, staffers chose a series of music to waft vivid ambient in the room, but it made me smile because the famous guitar music played by Gipsy King reminded me of a famous Samurai TV program. Where am I?

I reflected on what made me crazy for coming to IODA regardless the nearly zero percent chance to get to Istanbul. After all, the dialogue with those who pursue the dream we can do it, irrespective of the difficulty. Since the Global OD Summit in India in 2009, I have always been catching up with people to learn what to do. In every IODA, I enjoy having an opportunity to share with them about the dream we are craving and the obstacles standing in our way.

I believe OD is not a heavenly sacred revelation we must chant every single moment. It is not the rote that we unconsciously obey along with the clicking sound like a dog training, either. I believe it should be the philosophy that do not narrow on the personal change selfishly; rather, it asks us to listen to the data along with critical feedback from people who love to better. For that reason, I think IODA has a precious role for the people in the field of OD to build a relation with both those who lead us and those who would be led interchangeably.

Ken Nishikawa