Sharon Gulick
Sharon (Feb. 2004)
Sharon Gulick shares her great-grandfather's enthusiasm for Japan. During her first visit to Japan with her family when she was nine years old (1988), she visited several schools with Blue-eyed Dolls from America. She says, "Everywhere we went we were greeted with huge smiles and great hospitality."

Dr. Sidney Gulick, Sharon's great-grandfather, organized an exchange of dolls between the U.S. and Japan in 1927 to promote peace and good relations between the two countries. American children sent to Japan over 12,000 dolls, which were distributed by the Education Ministry to elementary schools and kindergartens throughout the country. These dolls become known as the "Blue-eyed Dolls," named after a popular Japanese song.

Sharon, now in her mid-20s and a graduate student at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, worked for two years in Japan from 1999 to 2001. She served as an assistant English teacher in Takaoka City in Toyama Prefecture. After completion of her two-year assignment, she spent about a month traveling around Japan to visit elementary schools and kindergartens with Blue-eyed Dolls. She again was amazed that the dolls were able to survive since 1927 through the strength and conviction of many people. 

Sharon (far left) and family at Daiichi Elementary School in Yamagata City (1991)
Her travels in the summer of 2001 to see the Blue-eyed Dolls took her to many prefectures in Japan. In Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, she received a very warm welcome when she visited some schools she had first gone to as a nine-year-old girl. The sixth graders at Watauchi Elementary School in Nagano City, who were doing a year-long special study of the Blue-eyed Dolls, were excited when the granddaughter of the originator of the 1927 doll exchange came to visit their school. She made good friends with the teachers at Shintoku Kindergarten in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, but unfortunately she did not have a chance to play with the children since they were out of school during the time of her visit. She even stopped by for three nights at the Yamagata City sushi shop of Yuji Suzuki, who coordinated the 1991 visit of her family when they attended the unveiling ceremony at Daiichi Elementary School of a statue named "Toward Tomorrow," dedicated to the ideals of peace and goodwill represented by the Friendship Dolls.

Sidney Gulick, 3d, and his wife Frances, Sharon's parents, have been actively involved in giving new Blue-eyed Dolls to Japanese schools since 1986. During Sharon's time in Japan, she was involved also in visiting several schools to which her parents recently had given new dolls.

Since Sharon's first visit to Japan in 1988, she has visited about forty schools in total. She hopes to continue her involvement with the Friendship Dolls. Her wish for the children of Japan and everywhere is for lasting curiosity about other people. She strongly believes it is important for everyone to learn to appreciate people from other countries: the way they dress, the color of their eyes, and the way they do things.

Other Friendship Doll Programs - Sidney and Frances Gulick

Special thanks to Shinano Education Association, Yamagata City Daiichi Elementary School, Shintoku Kindergarten, Watauchi Elementary School, and Nagasaki Shimbun for information in this article.

Some information from Shinano Education Journal (November 2001).

Bottom photo from Aoi me no ningyou monogatari (Blue-eyed Doll Story) published in 1992.

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