Category Archives: Our Partners

Middle and High School Visit in Isa City

By Asbjørn Kallestad, participant of Session 1&2, from Norway

Asbjørn learning Origami from the students 2

Today we visited Okuchi Meiko Gakuen School a middle and high school. We first gathered in the school gymnasium with all the students and teachers, and we had a presentation about our home countries. Following this gathering, we were divided into smaller groups to have lunch, and do a variety of activities together. I was in a group led by a student aspiring to become an English teacher. We connected well and had conversations about ourselves and our goals as we moved between gathering rooms during this day.

In the first classroom, we were split into different tables with students. The students at my table were initially a bit shy; However, they gradually opened up, and we connected and enjoyed lunch together. The wonderful grandmother of my host family had prepared a delicious traditional Japanese meal for me, which I appreciated highly. Next, we had the chance to experience the art of Japanese Origami. I was taught the art by a skilled an enthusiastic high school student who aspired to teach abroad and to improve her English. She patiently demonstrated how to fold various types of origami, and I successfully made a swan, a jumping frog, and a balloon. As a memento, we exchanged signed swans at the end.

The following tea ceremony was for me an unforgettable experience. We entered a traditional Japanese room where beautiful music was played on the Koto, a Japanese instrument. Behind the student musicians was a lovely garden that could be seen through the window of the room. The atmosphere I experienced here was unparalleled. We sat down and observed the tea ceremony while the students in detail explained the entire tea-making process. Afterward, we had the opportunity to taste the matcha tea the students had prepared. From my experience the matcha tea had a unique flavour and I thought it tasted so good, leaving me with a wish to experience a tea ceremony again.

The entire event felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The whole school participated, and they genuinely showed interest in sharing their crafts with us. Engaging in various activities was incredibly exciting, and I learned a lot throughout the day. When we left the school, all the students gathered and waved goodbye to us; it almost felt like being a celebrity ^^ They took excellent care of us, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Later that day, we got to learn more origami, fill a Tanabata tree with wishes, and fold hats. The teacher who guided us was incredibly kind and patient when showing us the different steps of the craft. On our way out, a lady partaking in the event approached me and gave me a hat she had made, which was incredibly kind of her.

This day left me with unforgettable memories and experiences. I am very grateful that I was allowed to be part of this cultural exchange experience.

Interaction at the YMCA

Interaction at the YMCA

Interaction at the YMCA

Interaction at the YMCA

Day of activity: July 07th 2014

Last Monday morning’s scheduled activity was very interesting. Really. The presentations were a little long and very detailed, but thez gsve me a lot to think about concerning how much planning goes into a city (an interest of mine that has nothing to do with either my major or the job I sm am aiming for).

In the afternoon, my normal shyness-induced awkwardness was amplified by the addition of a new component to the game JanKenPon (a Japanese version of Rock Paper Scissors) where the ‘winner’ of the round points at their opponent’s face, says a phrase, and points their finger in one direction of four (up, down, left, or right) on the last syllable of the phrase. Also on the the last syllable of the phrase, the ‘losing’ opponent looks in one of the four directions, and prevents the ‘winning’ opponent from truly winning by not looking in the direction that they point in; if the ‘winner’ doees not straight out win (i.e. their opponent looks in a different direction), the dueling pair start all over again with JanKenPon until someone wins. Confusing, right? Now try learning that on the fly when neither party speaks the other’s language very well.

After this amusing activity, we went upstsairs to make Ikinari Dango and were able to see everyone in the aprons they had borrowed from their host families; some of the combinations of World Campus – Japan Participant and host family apron had the occational incongruous and hilarious results: Actually, Ellis had hinted about the design of his host mom’s apron while we were visiting Kumamoto’s Tourism Department that morning which lead me to guess that it was pink and frilly to which he answered with an affirmative. But, seriously Ellis, an apron that has tomatoes on the pockets is not pink! A combination of the following pictures is more what I meant when I said pink and frilly! Funny aprons aside, we had an interesting experience making Ikinari Dango (in a ‘I have no idea what the heck I am doing, but let’s see how this turns out’ sense of the word “interesting”).

The YMCA students were really good at including us in the process of making the dough (very sticky stuff), putting the anko on the sweet potato slices, and wrapping the potato & anko combo in a thin layer of dough. Afterwards, we ate a lot of watermelon while the dango were being steamed, and then we ate the dango shile they were still piping hot. (‘Su-i-ka’ in Japanese means ‘watermelon’, though the ‘su-i’ is not the same as ‘su-i’ which is one of the pronunciations for the kanji which means ‘water’.)

Finally, as we were saying good-bye to the students, I randomly got AKB48’s song “Koisuru Fortune Cookie” stuck in my head. For those who don’t know: “Koisuru Fortune Cookie” is the first song of the Japanese Medley which we participants of World Campus International perform at each Arigato Event. As a result, I started dancing a little of the choreography, someone asked me what I was doing, I answered with a Thinking that We Should Perform the Japanese Medley, and the whole thing snowballed until about half of us were performing with music and a fair number of the YMCA students were recording us. This impromptu performance, I think, was the highlight: a great ending to an already exciting day.

Jackie (USA)

A visit of the Oriental Yeast Company and the Kansai University

A visit of the Oriental Yeast Company and the Kansai University

A visit of the Oriental Yeast Company and the Kansai University

A visit of the Oriental Yeast Company and the Kansai University

A visit of the Oriental Yeast Company and the Kansai University

Day of activity: July 16th 2014

Today we left suita station by bus to go to OYC, the Oriental Yeast Company. The OYC was Japan’s first baker’s yeast manufacturer (since 1929) and thus one of the trendsetters that made bread as popular as it is today in Japan. After a lengthy and informative PowerPoint on the fermentation of yeast we went on a tour of the Osaka Branch. On this tour we got to see a bit of the manufacturing process, mainly the packaging, and also saw a shrine where one can pray for good business. We did so maybe one of us will become a business tycoon. After the tour we had lunch, which consisted of bread – made with their yeast, of course – and some delicious Curry Rice.

After the factory we went to Kansai University, which had the grand campus. Of course we didnt see it all but the map was indication enough. They gave us information about their exchange program as well as two student-made presentations; one on jokes and the other on Japanese fashion, and wow are some styles unique and flamboyant. After having a discussion about the different styles present in our countries we went to see a Kendo presentation.

It was given by an Australian who’d been doing it 20+ years and was 7th Dan. He told us about Kendo’s history and how it was more than just a sport but also a way of life. The two girls, both 3rd Dan, faced each other and their sensei, giving us a taste of Kendo. Their Kiai was more high pitched than id expected and it painted a rather interesting image, especially because of the sensei’s baritone. In any, case it was fun to see but probably not for me. This was the last activity of the day and, in my opinion, a good ending to our 5th day here in Osaka.

Vincent Potman (the Netherlands)