Volunteer Spotlight: Elizabeth Bull

We’re continuing our Volunteer Spotlight feature throughout April in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month! This feature highlights Elizabeth, who has not only volunteered with us but now serves as our Communications Intern this Spring!


1) Tell us about yourself!

I am currently a senior undergrad at the University of Southern Maine and am double-majoring in Communication and Sculpture. I have always had a love for international cultures, particularly those that offer different perspectives, histories, values, and traditions to the West. Since I was a kid, Japan has had a special place in my heart. While I have studied in South Korea for a semester, I have only spent a 10 day sojourn in Tokyo, so I hope to make it back to Japan someday soon and really get to see the country!
2) How did you get involved with Friends of Aomori?
I became involved with FOA around two years back when I bonded with the then-president Patricia Parker – who had lived and taught in S. Korea – after I had just returned from my own excursions. I expressed my interests in volunteering with FOA in one of our conversations, and there you have it, I’ve been volunteering since!
3) What kind of volunteer work did you do for FOA?
So far most of my volunteer time has gone to helping with the put-up and take-down of the MAPS exhibits, but I just recently participated in the 2017 Japan Culture Day in Bath – helping people try on yukata (while learning myself how to wear one properly!) and generally assisting in the proceedings.
4) What was your favorite moment from volunteering?
I think my favorite moment in volunteering so far was the opening day of the first MAPS exhibit last year at the Space Gallery in Portland. I was a neputa guard (making sure no one ran into them) and it was really something to see the gallery filled to capacity, with all the visitors – young and old – enjoying the exhibit that the volunteers, board members, and artists had put so much time and effort into. Definitely a night to remember.
5) What will you take with you from volunteering with FOA?
To be honest, there are a whole host of things that volunteering with FOA has given me, but  I suppose the largest take-away is the knowledge I have gained about the Maine-Aomori Sister-State relationship and how I have been able to educate people about it as well. Other than that, I think the community of volunteers is truly something special; there’s so much camaraderie and positive energy that it makes all of the time worth while!

100 Years of Cherry Blossoms


While the state of Maine seems to still be stuck in the midst of Winter, Spring Festivities in the Aomori Prefecture are approaching – the most notable being that 2017 will be the 100th year of the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival!

Hirosaki City is located in the Aomori Prefecture and is home to Hirosaki Park and the famously picturesque Hirosaki Castle. The Cherry Blossom Festival in Hirosaki Park has been voted one of the best in the country and is held every year between late April and early May when the park’s approximately 2,600 cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. The festival offers a wide range of activities for visitors, from boat rides along the west moat, to picnics on the park grounds, and to the festival stalls full of seasonal food; with so much to do it’s easy to see why this festival draws over two million people per year!

For more information on the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, please visit the following:




Volunteer Spotlight: Hannah Hooke

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Friends of Aomori would be nothing without its dedicated team of volunteers!

This month, we are featuring Volunteer Spotlights on the creative and hard-working people who help make our programs a reality. We asked them to answer some questions for us to tell our visitors more about the work they do!

Volunteer Spotlight: Hannah Hooke

Photo courtesy of the Bowdoin Japanese Program.

Q: Tell us about yourself!

A: My name is Hannah Hooke, and I’m a student of Studio Art and Art History at the University of Maine. I concentrate in Printmaking, and I most enjoy woodcut prints. I have studied abroad in Japan, and am especially enamored with its the rich artistic traditions. I hope to study in Japan again in graduate school.

Q: How did you get involved with Friends of Aomori?

A: I got involved with Friends of Aomori as a result of meeting Briar Pelletier, who was interning for Friends of Aomori, while studying abroad in Japan. Due to our mutual love of art, we became fast friends and she graciously shared this opportunity with me.

Q: What kind of volunteer work did you do for Friends of Aomori?

A: I participated in Bath-Tsugaru Culture Day, where I ran a relief printmaking demonstration geared toward cultivating an understanding of relief printmaking for all ages, with Japanese context, and examples of tools and methods used in Japan.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from volunteering?

A: During my time volunteering, I most enjoyed getting to interact with others also interested in Japan, and to talk about printmaking with people who may have otherwise not had an opportunity to get such an intimate overview of printmaking techniques, tools, and possibilities!

What will you take with you from volunteering with FOA?

For me, I feel that this was a really a great chance to become familiar with a wonderful organization, that I feel is doing the important work of cultivating cross-cultural awareness and companionship. I am also grateful to have had an opportunity to share the art of printmaking with others, especially children in hopes that they may grow up interested in and aware of the way creative endeavors can connect people locally and cross-culturally.