Mayor visit in Arao

Day of Activity June 20th

Today was the most eventful day so far. From early in the morning we were dressed in our best outfits to meet the mayor of Arao city, Mr. Maebata. He gave us a general introduction to the geography and history of the area. We learned that Arao was once a prosperous coal mining town whose main mine, the Manda coal mine, had ceased its ore extraction operations in 1951. The amusement park “greenland”, whose ferris wheel towers over the city, made its obligatory cameo, and with the city pushing for the Manda coal mine’s acceptance as a UNESCO world heritage site, and Arao’s numerous natural tourist attractions, like the Arao tideland and wetlands, the Mayor revealed ambitions of a booming tourism industry in the area.

After Mr. Maebata finished his address, he opened for a Q&A session, and we were allowed to ask him about both business and leisure. This was a unique opportunity to gain an impression of Japanese politics at the city level. Unless you know enough Japanese to read a newspaper or follow the news on television, foreigners are usually only exposed to politics at the national level, so this was a valuable opportunity.

2014 Mayor visit in Arao

A few days later our visit was featured in the Ariake Shinpo, the local newspaper for the Omuta and Arao area.



Midorigaoka Elementery school visit in 2014

Midorigaoka Elementery school visit

Day of activity: June 19th

This day we visited midorigaoka elementary school. In most elementary schools we visited, the kids were all looking forward to interact with us, but this school was slightly different. This school had been in the World Campus – Japan program for several years in a row now and the connection with World Campus International and some of its members was seemingly deeper. Many kids who had experienced the cultural exchange a year before had already been looking forward to the return of World Campus – Japan since that same year. They were extremely happy to see us and came to see who we are as soon as we entered the building. We set up our World Campus – Japan headquarters in the library where we split up into four groups and all went to our pre-scheduled class rooms.

The first class me and my group joined was a first-years class. Because the first years students didn’t speak any English we interacted through music. We sang and danced with the kids and a lot of fun! We then moved on to the next class, where the students did speak some English. We all introduced ourselves and all the kids also introduced themselves. We then had a question and answer session so we could get to know each other better. After the classes it was time for a school lunch. We all picked up our lunches in the headquarters and the students came to pick us up and took us to their class rooms to eat with them. I went to the special needs education class in the school for lunch. This class consisted of three students, one teacher and one helper. The teacher used to be an English teacher before and thus the conversations we had went smoothly. We talked about the kids and what their hobbies were. Each of the kids showed us what they liked to do. One of the kids was extremely good at drawing and showed us a drawing he made of two kids playing outside. It had a lot of detail and was very realistic. If I had guessed who had made the picture, I would have guessed somebody who had been studying art or design, but no, this ten year old boy whose passion was to draw, drew this in his play time while all the other kids were out playing soccer or dodge ball.

After lunch everybody of World Campus – Japan, all students and all teacher gathered in the gymnasium. The students officially welcomed us to their school and we thanked them for welcoming us. As a thank you we performed several Japanese dances on stage and played games with them afterwards. The children knew many of the songs we performed and sang, danced and clapped with us and the music! They had a lot of fun. Even the teachers seemed to enjoy it and some of them even joined us when playing the games! We all had a great time here!

After the music event all World Campus – Japan members went back to headquarters and it was time for the kids to go home. Even though it was time to go home, many kids decided to stay a bit longer and say one last good bye to us while asking for our signature. After that they went home probably awaiting our next return. I hope that world campus international will get another chance to have this great experience again next year!

Jurrien Theunisz (The Netherlands)

A day in Nagasaki City

Foto with atomic bomb survivor in the Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki City

Today, we went to Nagasaki. We had heard earlier last week from Omura – san, a representative from the local community, about his troubles finding a survivor of the atomic bomb in the town that we are staying in, Omura.

No one of the people that he asked wanted to speak about the experience, due to their fear of discrimination, and, for some of them, the hate towards foreigners. Yesterday, I heard from my host – grandfather that he was a survivor of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. He shoved me a notebook containing his information from when the bombs were dropped.

In the notebook I could see that he was 3 years old when the atomic bombs were dropped. I assumed that the notebook was some kind of way for the Japanese governement to keep track of survivors and reunite their families. My host – grandfather diden’t tell me a lot about his experience, probably because of the strong feelings that he is still harburing in connection with the experience.

I knew that when we whent to Nagasaki City we would go to the atomic bomb and listen to a survivor telling us about her experience.

Both the museum and the survivors speech were emidiadly educational.

While I had learned about the atomic bombs in school back in Sweden, it was a whole different experience seeing the destruction in the museum and hearing about the effects directly from a survivor. Listening to the survivor and seeing the remains of both people and rabble in the museum changed my impression of the bombing experience.

I knew what happend was horrible but i believed that no one, exept the survivors, would actually be able to know exactly how horrible the atomic bombings actually were.

Thinging back upon what I have learned, heard and experienced today, I have decided to start i new project. I will create a video to show to the world, accompanied by music, using the materials that i gathered today.

This is for myself to show my appretiation to the people making this possible, and to sharewhat I have learned and experienced today with other people in the world.

Joel (Sweden)

First Day in Omura

Evening party for welcoming participants

Day of activity: June 10th 2014

Due to some long flight delays with Air France, resulting in being re-routed to Tokyo followed by Nagasaki I finally arrived in Omura city at 7 P.M. My host family as well as Hiro Nishimura (the person in charge of WCI) met me at the airport and greeted me kindly. I was then driven straight to a warm welcoming party where delicious food was served by lots of smiling people. It was at this point that I realised I had made the right decision to visit Japan with the World Campus International company.

Ellis Jones (U.K.)

Shorinji Kempo Dojo experience

Interaction with the children and local community at the Shorinji Kempo dojo.

Interaction with the children and local community at the Shorinji Kempo dojo.

Interaction with the children and local community at the Shorinji Kempo dojo.

Day of activity: June 14th 2014

Today, we went to Shorinji Kempo Dojo. It was a very nice experience. I have been trainig Aikido for couple of months and in general I am quite interested in Martial Arts. I like to experience new things and learn different techniques. I was positively surprised when I saw that Shorinji Kempo uses similar techniques as in Aikido. But of course there are many other movements which are complitely different but used in a similar situation. The principle is the same as in Aikido and many other Martial Arts. That is to use Shorinji Kempos techniques in self defence only, and try to avoid fighting in every possible way. We trained today with Japanese children who train in the Dojo. They were really excited to meet us and eagerly showed us the movements. Other members of the Dojo were kind and welcoming. A mother of one of the kids even made a lunch, cake and Japanese tea for us. It was really delicious. Also, My Host Father is training in the Dojo and I went with him few times to watch the training. I am really grateful because I got a chance to experience Shorinji Kempo and learn more about it. We had a great time with the kids and took a lot of photos. They made my day and those memories I will cherish forever.

Bojana Bogdanovic (Serbia)