Okinawa: Citi Colleagues' Teamwork Shines at "Naha Ha-Ri"
By Guy Matthews, Citi Global Public Affairs, Japan
August 04, 2014 12:02 PM
"Oi, Oi" came the thunderous shouts of 32 Citi Okinawa colleagues, who worked as one to row during the "Ha-ri" dragon boat race on a sunny day in May.
A dragon boat race that came from China in the 14th century, Ha-ri wishes that fishermen will have bounteous catches and be safe at sea. The boat is 14.5 meters long (47.4 feet), 2.1 meters wide (6.8 feet) and weighs 2.5 tons. Three boats of 32 rowers competed on a 400 meter-course in Okinawa's capital city of Naha. Citi Okinawa started competing with its own team last year.
The idea to join Naha Ha-ri, the biggest Ha-ri race and part of one of Okinawa's biggest festivals, came from a survey, where Citi Okinawa asks colleagues what kind of activity they want to participate as a company. In 2012, the Ha-ri race was one of the most popular requests. This year, 44 employees raised their hands to be the part of the race.
After practicing for two days, the team, in Citi T-shirts, gathered two hours prior to the race to warm up and plan the final strategy. "We were all ready to compete and do our best," said a team member.
With 100 staff members, family members and friends cheering on, the race was on: Citi soon took the lead and, with great effort and teamwork, held on to first place until the 200 meter turn. After the turn, however, the City Council team drew level with Citi with only 150 meters to go. Despite tremendous exertion, Citi slipped to second place, but managed to finish 30 seconds faster than last year. The improvement was the result of great teamwork, which is demonstrated in the participant's daily work. The team hopes to take first place next year.
The team was led by the beating of the traditional drum to regulate the speed of rowing and the boat's direction.
The team intends to practice more next year, especially the start and turn components of the course and research the best seating configurations to balance and maximize the power and speed of the men and women.
It was also a great occasion to interact with people in the local community. The event is one of the biggest festivals in Okinawa, and 100 teams from local schools, local government and companies enjoy the race. The event lasts for three days and its many activities, such as fireworks and performances, attract more than 200,000 visitors. Citi successfully showed its community spirit by presence by supporting and having fun with those in the local community.
*Tagged as: employees, okinawa, teamwork, community