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Happily Ever After: Yumi and ūmi

For most of us, our lives are full of momentous occasions shared by family – learning to walk, graduating from high school, starting your first job, getting married and having children. For Boston-based public relations practitioner Yumi Bilic , the next momentous occasion in family life was her sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, due to the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Japan native was unable to attend the festivities in Tokyo earlier this month.

After learning about Yumi’s situation, Cisco donated Cisco ūmi telepresence units to her and her family so that they would be able to be together virtually on the special day.  With the same name, it was hard for Yumi to pass up the opportunity to see her sister’s ceremony on her HDTV via ūmi.* Not only did Yumi and her husband get to see her family, but she was introduced to her sister’s soon-to-be husband’s family, as well.   By attending the wedding virtually with Cisco ūmi from thousands of miles away in Boston, Yumi was able to see, things like her sister’s beautiful bouquet and traditional kimono she changed into for the ceremony as well as finer details like the floral arrangements on all of the tables.

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More together, more often

How easy it is to get caught up in what we see as the challenges and pressures of our own lives and lose a little perspective. Or worse still create a false perspective. But then every once in a while, amidst our personal whirlwind something happens to make us stop and reflect on where and who we are. And just maybe to prompt us to re-calibrate ourselves in some way -- to regain lost perspective or recognise a change that’s needed. That catalyst might be something up-close and personal like a relationship issue, something a little further away like a colleague who falls ill, or even something seemingly un-related to us a world away.

Last Friday that catalyst for me was the massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan. For me -- no doubt like millions of people around the world -- it brought out a range of emotions:  shock at its scale; horror at its brutality; sadness for the lives lost; gratitude for my situation and family; amazement at the Japanese people’s resolve and calmness; and of course empathy.

Indeed it’s very often during times of adversity that our identification with and understanding of anothers’ situation grows and we intuitively focus on what brings us together, rather than what separates us. We feel a certain ‘connectedness’. Not only with Japanese communities around the world, but every community -- from the local to the international -  to instinctively understand that at this moment we can and must strive to achieve more together.

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Japan’s calm and communal attitude in the face of disaster

I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami which struck the country last Friday. The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has described the natural disaster as the country’s worst crisis since World War II and the photos and video footage which currently dominate global headlines support this statement: mass fires, towns and villages have been washed away, a leak in Japan’s quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power is causing radiation emissions to rise to dangerous levels and the death toll continues to rise. Scenes from hell. Read More »

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