Thursday , June 21, 2018

192-hour journey of 20 young journalists in Japan

THE first batch of delegates of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (Jenesys)-2017 arrived in Japan on September 12.

Nineteen selected youths all over the Philippines plus one supervisor were chosen ambassadors for the program, of whom, two were from Davao City and one from Balo-i, Lanao del Norte.

This was made possible by the National Youth Commission (NYC) in partnership with Philippine and Japan embassies, Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) and Japanese Government.

The participants had great experiences and exposures to the host country's rich culture, traditions, and technology advancement. The itinerary was strictly followed to attain every activity included. From this perspective, it can be said that Japanese people are particular on time management.

There was a proper orientation by the JICE Staff upon their arrival. The organizer assured that every participant clearly understood the purpose and goals of the program. The food they had while in Japan were all Japanese cuisines.

Early morning of the second day, the participants went to Meiji University, a prestigious institution in Japan. There, they attended a lecture on Japanese politics and society delivered by Prof. Kazuyuki Sasaki.

Understanding Japan Political Structure can be a key to extrapolate its development and progress. The participants enjoyed the campus tour after the discussions with select students of the university.

In the afternoon, NHK (the top brand broadcasting company in Japan) was visited by the group. There, they witnessed its latest facilities. Afterward, the group headed to Meiji Jingu Shrine at Harajuku.

The shrine is one of the most visited Shinto temples in the region.

The group then travelled to Kiryu City on the 4th day, which included in their itinerary the giving of a courtesy call to its local government.

Kiryu City promotes its place as capital contributing city in textile industry. Quality and durable textile products were observed. There were manual and machinery weaving. Some participants were able to experience how to weave.

Kimono is actually made from this kind of cloth.

Later on, the participants also experienced actual dying of textiles. Every delegate was tested to artistically design the cloth given to them.

The group also visited the textile museums and shops as part of the city's exploration.

The participants had radio broadcasting experience at FM Kiryu; and Kiryo Times, a newspaper in the city, also gave insights on print media and newspaper printing.

They had also toured the Kiryu Grand Hotel where the rooms are all in Japanese-bedroom style, giving one the feel of a Japanese traditional way of living. An onsen or hot spring can be found in this hotel where the male delegates had tried.

Public bathing for the Japanese means taking off every garment that is worn, but the male and female bathing locations are separated. There was never malice when it comes to traditions such as onsen bathing. This is probably one of the remarkable experiences a foreigner might remember while visiting in this country.

During their two-day homestay, the delegates were divided and assigned to their host family to personally learn utmost exposure to the typical Japanese civil life in Minakami. This happened at Minakami Cultural Center.

After a short period of orientation, the host families brought the delegates to their respective houses. These families are contacted in every program of JICE to host, but it was their first time to bring in Filipino delegates.

Every family sets the activities already, although they also ask the foster siblings on what they like to do.

Some families brought their adopted delegates to a school to participate in a sports fest, while others were taught to make baskets and calligraphy writing.

In Minakami, most, if not all, people have their gardens.

Japanese have always time for everything as long as it is related to work. That is why even senior citizens can still work efficiently because of their healthy lifestyle which include discipline in food choices and exercise.

Participants also visited farms where they experienced harvesting vegetables and fruits.

Apple farm is actually one of the favorite sceneries of some delegates.

Communication is seen to be a problem because only a few Japanese can manage to speak English. However, the delegates looked for ways to express their ideas through non-verbal communication.

The participants all agreed that it was actually the homestay that made the trip best since the learning they experienced were more personalized. The homestay ended with a farewell party, after which, the delegates returned to Tokyo.

On the seventh day, the tour in Nihon Kagaku Miraikan, where people consider as the cutting edge in technology, was made. This place showed advance studies and development in both sciences and technology. There were robots that were really human-like. Crafts for space studies were also present and even monitor to explain some phenomena.

After watching ASIMO show, delegates headed to seaside mall where the replica of Statue of Liberty of New York can be seen.

The participants also tried bouldering.

The last night was more memorable as the group was divided; some went to the popular Tokyo Tower while the others went shopping.

During their last day which was on September 19, the delegates had a one last look at the beautiful capital city of Japan. Seeing again the busy Japanese people in Tokyo heading to different destinations; striding fast and some were riding bicycles.

The delegates were done with the program but the experiences are actually fresh and worth shareable. The endeavor of the young journalists of the Philippines commenced with many lessons learned. The observations such as respect of the Japanese to their environment, their being time-conscious, love for work whether a Japanese is doing blue or white collar job, showing a happy face when in interpersonal contact, nationalism as evident in using their language, cuisines, drinking of teas in meals, respect to the elders, their high regard for education, orderly, harmony and tolerance, and so on were concluded.

Truly, such program from NYC really helps young Filipinos to understand international diplomacy and relations through immersion. The NYC on the other hand, offers yearly great opportunities for the youth to learn and apply the knowledge they've learned to their own country after the journey. (Alican Pandapatan)

(Alican Pandapatan, a Moro who hails from Lanao del Norte, was part of the 20-man delegation from the Philippines for the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (Jenesys) 2017 Young Journalists Exchange held from September 12 to 19 in Tokyo and Kanto, Koshinetsu, Japan.)