The Kenai Senior Center received a special gift from Kenai Peninsula College students on Tuesday in the form of 1,000 origami cranes.
Each crane was made by hand by a student in Yasuko Lehtinen’s Japanese language class over the students’ spring break. Once they had made 1,000, the cranes were strung together to create a hanging mobile now on display in the senior center’s card room.
In Japanese culture, there is a legend that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish to use for themselves or to gift to others, Lehtinen said.The crane is a sacred animal in Japan, and is said to live for 1,000 years, so origami is folded for each year of a crane’s life. Often the cranes will be made in hopes of a quick recovery from an illness, or will be given to a newlywed couple, representing a wish of 1,000 years of happiness and prosperity.
On Tuesday afternoon, KPC students brought their origami cranes to the Kenai Senior Center as a gift.
“In Japan, if you want to do something for someone, you make them 1,000 cranes and it will bring them a miracle. So we made 1,000 cranes for the senior center,” said Juliet Weaver, one of Lehtinen’s students.
Rachel Craig, director of the senior center, hung the crane display in the senior center’s card room, where they will remain on display. They are looking to have a plaque made to commemorate the gift, she said.
“What a great, great thing for the seniors,” Kathy Romain, the senior center’s administrative assistant, said. “It will be very much enjoyed by many people.”
The senior center has worked with Kenai Peninsula College in the past and are excited to receive the class’s gift, Craig said.
“We do a lot of intergenerational work with KPC,” she said. “We’ve done art classes with them and have had learning resource centers come over. This is fun, to have this language class come over.”
According to Lehtinen, she had been hoping to complete this project for several years but never had a class of students who were dedicated to the task of folding all 1,000 cranes. This year, though, the students were excited at the opportunity and learned a lot from the experience, she said.
“This is education, we’re teaching,” Lehtinen said. “The American people don’t know a lot of things about Japanese culture.”
Kat Sorensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.