Healing Brooklyn-Japan Baseball Program

Brooklyn-Japan culture exchange program
Brooklyn-Japan culture exchange program

Healing was the theme for our Brooklyn-Japan Baseball Program. Our multicultural assignment involved a global natural disaster project with Brooklyn and Japan–the Japanese government’s cultural exchange agency, Long Island University, Brooklyn Borough Hall, and the Brooklyn Cyclones.  What a time we  had this summer! It regarded youth survivors of Japan’s Tsunami and Brooklyn-NYC’s Hurricane Sandy.

We managed event planning details for this week-long event, we did program development, and directed public relations and media strategies. We produced two films, a press conference, social media campaigns and more. Our two new films “The Healing Game: Brooklyn-Japan Youth Baseball Program-Part 1,”  and The Healing Game-Part 2 (subtitled in Japanese) can be viewed on youtube. Click here for a link.

The Tumblr website that we set-up can be viewed here.

It was exciting to launch something new and different. The inaugural Brooklyn-Japan Baseball Program was full of wonderful moments and memorable collaborations. But most importantly, we celebrated our children’s friendship and survival from both of our nation’s natural disasters—Hurricane Sandy (2012) and Japan’s Tsunami and Earthquake (2011).

The program, called “Japan’s Tsunami Kids and Brooklyn’s Hurricane Sandy Kids Play ball,”  happened Wednesday July 23 – Sunday, July 27, 2014 in Brooklyn at Long Island University and Cyclones Stadium, Coney Island. The kids also attended a Yankees game in the Bronx, ate Dim Sum in New York City’s Chinatown and more.

We welcomed a delegation of 100 Japanese youth baseball players, coaches, guardians and translators. They all lodged downtown Brooklyn at Long Island University’s student dorm. They participated in cultural exchange activities and played ball with local Hurricane Sandy youth at Brooklyn’s MCU Park-Cyclones Stadium in Coney Island. The Hurricane Sandy kids came from Brooklyn, Queens and other local disaster areas.

Hat’s off to our three very talented college interns who always went above and beyond the call of duty to deliver professional-level work on this project: Vivian Lee, Mount Holyoke; Jennifer Yip, Amherst College; and Laura Bromley, Hunter College (CUNY).

Stay tuned for more highlights from our fun summer projects.


Jimmy Breslin Honored at LIU

Jimmy Breslin, third from left, is flanked by LIU officials after he was presented an Honorary Doctorate degree.

I had the opportunity to meet the legendary newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin last week, who received an honorary Doctorate degree from Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn Campus. Actually, I had met Jimmy years ago socially a few times and then once when I was invited by the Daily News publisher to a meeting of community newspaper publishers. At the time I was publisher of the Caribbean American News. Along with a dozen or so Chinese, Russian, Spanish and outer borough community and ethnic newspaper publishers, we were going to be the subject of an editorial piece that Jimmy was to be involved. No, he did not remember. No, I did not remind him! Jimmy is a newspaper journalism rock star! When we small-time publishers left that meeting, we were all stunned that Jimmy was there. We exhaled a collective: “Wow!”

Because Mr. Breslin was unable to attend the LIU commencement ceremony held in May, LIU President David J. Steinberg decided to hold a special ceremony just for him in the campus Kumble Theater.

Legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin poses with admirer Sylvia Wong Lewis

The small ceremony was attended by his family including a daughter, his wife Ronnie Eldridge, former NY City Council leader and CUNY TV host, friends, University Trustees, Provost Gail Stevens and Faculty members. Although it was clear that he was moving a bit slower and may had been in pain, he did not let on. He joked to the empty seats in the audience about how he was “glad to be somewhere” and wanted a drink!

“It is right that we honor Jimmy for his talent, courage and achievement to tell stories about the common man. When the other reporters were writing about the rich and famous at President Kennedy’s funeral, Jimmy was the only one to focus on the grave diggers. He has come full circle since his students days in the 1950s when he left us after only two years. But his life’s work and achievement more than made up for it. He is an inspiration to students on what is possible. We’ve seen students who appeared so promising who hardly achieve much. Then, we got Jimmy Breslin, a student who struggled and worked hard. Because of him, we know that we must give our all to each and every student who passes through our doors,” said President Steinberg.

Jimmy reminisced about growing up in Queens, smoking, drinking in all-night bars, and the clicking sound of a typewriter. “There are no more newspapers,” he lamented. “Right now, I am writing fiction and I stopped drinking and smoking. But writing is painful. You need to drink to write. The stories are put out there in space somewhere (referring to the internet)…and typing no longer makes any noise. It’s terrible now. But, I thank you for this honor.”