One of the JENESYS 2016 group that just returned from Japan.
Twenty seven (27) students from The University of the South Pacific (USP) and two staff members recently returned from the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) programme two week-study tour in Japan which was from 17 to 27 January 2017.
The JENESYS Programme is a project advanced by the Japanese Government with an overarching goal of providing a foundation for strong solidarity within Asia through large-scale youth exchange from all around the Pacific.
The theme for the January tour was Environment and Energy.
Group supervisor Nicholas Manuel said theirs was the first group that involved participants from nine different island countries including Cook Islands (2), Fiji (9), Kiribati (1), Nauru (1), PNG (2), Samoa (7), Solomon Islands (2), Tonga (2) and Tuvalu (3).
“My role as a supervisor was to ensure the smooth running of the programme and also to assist the Group Coordinator and Translator with the management of the students whilst in Japan,” he relayed.
Some of the places visited were Meikai University, Shiroyone Senmaida (A thousand rice paddies in Shiroyone), Succeed Corporation, Wajima regeneration project, Ono charcoal making company, Hokuriku electric power company, Tokyo Environmental Public Service Corporation and the famous Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon Temple).
“Students were divided into small groups and the buddy system was used to ensure that everyone was on the same page. We all went around as a group for site visits and everyone enjoyed learning about Japan and experiencing different things,” Mr Manuel explained.
He said their group promoted cultural diversity by performing five (5) different cultural items; a Cook Island song, Tuvaluan fatele, Tongan ula, Fijian meke and finished off with the Samoan taualuga. This he said, was performed to the students at Meikai University and also during the reporting session.
Mr Manuel said Japan is well known for its infrastructural efficiency and captivating culture and traditions but one of the most interesting things they learnt is their organised approach to garbage disposal.
“Although not as eco-friendly as certain countries in Europe, Japan stands as an innovator when it comes to waste management and organisation,” he said.
Another interesting feature was the Japanese Calligraphy (‘shodo’), a form of artistic writing of the Japanese language, he noted.
“It was interesting and exciting and we are grateful to be taught the basics of Japanese calligraphy during our visit to Meikai University in the Chiba Prefecture,” he said.
One of the main challenges they faced as a group was time management as Japan takes this very seriously.
Cook Islands student Abigail Chynoweth said she learnt that technology in Japan is very advanced which has allowed “the country to use its natural resources such which has assisted in the growth of its economy”.
She added that culture in Japan is still strong and respected by all.
“Based on my observation Japan has strong ability to disallow cultural influences from other countries to dominate their own culture. Even the use of their own mother tongue is very strong and not overruled by the English language. The people of Japan are very polite, humble and respectful,” she said.
Latu Bloomfield from Tonga said the people of Japan have kept their culture and traditions intact.
“I have also learnt that Japanese people are one of the most polite and hospitable people ever and the fact that they are always punctual is amazing,” she said.
Mr Manuel added that overall this trip had given them a magnificent, life-changing experience “and I am deeply indebted and thankful to the Japanese Government for this great opportunity,” he said.
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