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Michelle Swanson | December 9, 2022

Michelle Swanson - 2026Nankurunaisa. In English, there is no word that sums up this Okinawan term which roughly translates to: “don’t worry- it’ll be alright.” “Nankurunaisa,” is what my Obachan, my grandma, whispered to me during the 2011 Japan earthquake. “Nankurunaisa,” is what I whispered to myself at 8 years old, it hit me: I could lose everything. 

I sat on my couch; the lights flickered; everything went dark.  In the noise and chaos, we prepared to leave. I noticed my brother, paralyzed with fear, and I knew I had to stay strong for him. I wiped my tears and held him as I helped my Obachan pack. We eventually made our way to the car and drove to safety. 

That day I realized people rely on me just as much as I rely on them. My brother needed my emotional support, I needed his hug; my Obachan needed my support, I needed her presence. The effects of the tsunami and earthquake were obstacles I had to overcome like when I first went off to the academy. The very first major event I experience right after Swab Summer was knee surgery. Having never lived in America prior to the academy and the lack of knowledge of the American medical system, I was lost. From scheduling my surgery to transportation, I had to rely on so many people to help me along with the process. With a great amount of support and understanding from my shipmates, chief, and professors, I have been able to make progress. “Nankurunaisa,” I whisper to myself as I continue.

About Michelle

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