Japanese volunteer bids goodbye to state university

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Friday, March 16, 2012


A JAPANESE national from the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOVC) culminated her two-year stay at the Ifugao State University (Ifsu) with a farewell program at the Ifsu Review Center on March 12.

JOVC is one of the programs of the Japan International Cooperation Agency aimed at providing technical assistance in developing countries.

Akiyo Kimura of Nagazaki, Japan assisted the university in executing the Nihongo class offered to students of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

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Kimura’s interest in environmental protection swayed her to successfully initiate the conduct of eco-caravan activities in Ifsu where students underwent workshops on theater arts, papermaking and bamboo instrument making.

The students also attended to sessions on environmental protection. They conveyed this advocacy through theater plays as one of their outputs.

Kimura also initiated an activity in Ifsu promoting peace entitled “Peace Cranes: Hiroshima – Nagazaki Exhibit and Peace Forum.”

Ifsu student Luz Monhinag said the activity enlightened her on the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagazaki.

“Our lessons in history, especially the 2nd World War, gave us the impression that the Japanese are cruel but contrary to that, I learned that the Japanese are now the prime movers of peace advocacy,” Monhinag said.

Further, as part of Ifsu’s cultural exchange program, Kimura introduced to the Ifsu students the Tanabata Festival, a Japanese tradition where people write their wishes on tanzaku papers (colorful small strips of paper), hang them on decorated bamboo branches and pray that their wishes would come true.

Reminiscing her days in Ifsu, Kimura expressed her disbelief on the eventual end of her contract as a volunteer in the university.

“Thank you for sharing me your time and for showing me the beauty of Ifugao. Though sometimes I feel lonely and sick, I managed to survive because of you,” she said.

“Own your identity as mountain people. Cherish your identity as Ifugaos. You have a great culture and that matters more than money. Your culture is not influenced by Spaniards and Americans and that makes Ifugao life interesting,” she added.

Dr. Dinah Corazon Licyayo, director of Ifsu’s Department of Student Services and Development (DSSD), stressed during the program that Ifsu was so fortunate to have a volunteer from JOCV at a time when Ifsu president Dr. Serafin Ngohayon initiated the conduct of Nihongo class.

Licyayo, who finished her Doctor of Philosophy in Japan, ran the Nihongo class offered to interested students prior to Kimura’s coming.

Ifsu’s AB Political Science students Irish Lunag and Judith Chumog appreciated Kimura’s patience in teaching Nihongo and attested that it was difficult to learn the language.

Chumog said it helped her communicate with the Japanese students coming to Ifsu for cultural exchange activities.

Eco-theater participants Marvin Vergara and Aiza Dulnuan affirmed that Kimura’s initiative enhanced their acting skills.

Kassy Nagulman, another Ifsu student, said joining Kimura made him experience the Japanese culture.

Ifsu instructor Lydia de Castro appealed to Kimura not to forget Ifugao when she goes back to Japan. (Jeremy Gawongna)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 17, 2012.

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