Today we visited several schools in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture. While visiting Daisan Junior High School, we were met with such an extreme amount of kindness and energy from the students! The students made us feel welcomed into their school through their excitement and made conversations feel natural even through the language barrier. The students were also very knowledgeable on the topics we were given and showed that they had put lots of time into preparing for our discussion. It truly was an amazing experience as it was my first time visiting a school outside of the United States. I hope that we left as good of an impression on them as they left on us and that World Campus is invited to visit again in the future!
By Asbjørn Kallestad, participant of Session 1&2, from Norway
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.
Nijinohara Special Education school. It has been two years since I came here. Such a familiar and nostalgic place now. Coming here was as exciting as last time.
The day started with us being given an introductory lecture of the school and it’s branching schools. After some questions and instructions, we went out and did some fun activities with the kids. I remember last time, Jana, a chancellor at the time led a game called álele with the us all. This time around, it was Thomas. He was very good at leading the game, and the kids loved it!
For the rest of the day, we were divided into groups and participated in different activities and lessons with the children. I got to participate in an English class with Louise from Sweden, Paul from the states, Jean-Michael from Luxemburg, and Yunzhi from China (same as me btw). We spend our time with playing some rather bizarre but fun games involving English words, and being interviewed by the kids.
During the afternoon, we went to the Kyudo Dojo in this town. Kyudo is a form of Archery that is unique to Japan. Not only does it emphasis a lot of archery, it also emphasis on form.
After being taught the forms in Kyudo through a sling-like thing, we were given the opportunity to try at a real bow. Not only were the bows pretty heavy to pull, they were huge too. For me at least, the forms and technique we learned were really helpful. We were given some target balloons we were to hit with the arrows. Those that hit at least one balloon were given some snacks as a prize.
Last time I was participating in this program, I didn’t manage to hit any balloons. This time around, I managed to hit one! I wasn’t alone in hitting at least one balloon. At least all of Chinese participants in this session hitted at least one. I decided to try out on the real target that was a little bit further away than the balloons once I hitted a balloon.
At the end of the day, some people participated in a Kendo experience. I decided not to take part in the kendo activity since I was quite tired and I had a light case of headache. I don’t know how, maybe it is because I didn’t drink enough water for the day. Maybe….
By the time dinner was served, the headaches were mosly gone. The dinner for today was Japanese Curry with rice, It’s a cuisine made of Japanese curry paste, often with some beef, potatoes, and carrot, almost like the european gulasch. It is quite popular among kids here in Japan. We sat around a small table in front of the TV while eating. I usually ate together with my host brother, Shingo. The rest of the family joins in a little later.
We spent the rest of the evening small talking while watching TV. Since this is the first time the Miyamoto family were being a host family in WCI, they have not been in a single Arigato Event before. As thus, they were pretty excited about it. The Nagasaki Arigato event is in my most humble opinion the best of those I’ve been apart of. At least it was so the last time. I really hope they will enjoy the event. ‘I’m gonna make sure the event will be successful’ were the last words I thought to myself as I went to bed.
Yesterday we had a fun day of Zen meditation and some interesting ninja training. One of the most difficult activities was the crossing of the Akame river, using only a small floating device, which I completely failed at. Returning home I was looking forward to a much appreciated rest.
The house of my host family, the Okuda family, is amazing. It is a really relaxing environment with an absolutely wonderful forest view accompanied with the whining of the nearby cicadas. The house itself is made by my host father himself using only natural resources that can be found around the building. It is such an amazing and relaxing environment that it makes me want to stay a lot longer than a week.
However, today we had two activities planned; visiting Murou elementary school, and Uda city hall. Before meeting with the schoolkids we were invited to their morning meeting in the gymnasium, so that we could formally introduce ourselves. We were also introduced to some Chinese school kids who also were invited that day. We showed them our Japan medley dances too. After that we were divided into groups, meeting four different grades. My group was going to meet the third graders.
When we met the kids in their classroom they were really excited to see us. They all welcomed us with a song, and then we played a game. The World Campus Japan members were asked some questions and the kids had to guess the right answer. They asked me what my favourite colour was, but none of them guessed the right answer, which is blue if you were wondering. Then we ate lunch with the kids in the classroom and we got some more time to interact with them. Kana-chan absolutely loves playing the piano and Ibuki-kun is absolutely crazy about labels and ketchup cups.
After saying our goodbyes we went by train to Uda city hall and met up with the members of the tourist committee. They told us what Uda’s must see spots and attractions are. Because we have not been here long we did not yet really know a lot about the city and its surroundings but I have the impression that Uda is a wonderful place witch does not yet know the mass tourism that places like Kyoto and Nara knows, which means that it is a place where you can enjoy the many temples and shrines, without feeling swarmed, but able to visit them in a peaceful and relaxing way.
We sat together with the committee members to talk about the possible ways to attract more foreign tourist; as of now Uda mainly attracts Japanese tourists and only a handful of foreign tourists. This led to some interesting discussions about the future paths Uda’s tourism can take. I hope that they can take some of our ideas into consideration.
This afternoon did convince me that Uda is certainly a place were I want to return to, hopefully in the near future.
Then we returned home to our host families and at night I had a lovely dinner with my host mum, Hinomi-san and the kids, Akiha-chan and Kiharu-chan. In the beginning they were incredibly shy but after a few games they opened up. We probably were too busy yesterday so after watching sumo, first time for me, they went to bed. I spent the rest of the night with my host mum and talked to her some more until my host father came home. After some nice cold beer and some more chatting, I went to bed.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the weeks activities.
Hello everyone, My name is Magnus Krumbacher and I’m from Norway. I have been living in Tokyo on my gap year since I graduated from high school last year.
Now that I’ve introduced myself, I would like to talk about my day and what I got to experience. It started off as usual by waking up at 7:00 AM. I went downstairs to eat breakfast together with my host family. I have to say, I’m not really a morning person so I’m always half asleep while eating. Today was no different. Luckily though, they are quite the same so I felt comfortable with just sitting, eating and occasionally talking a bit.
After breakfast my host father drove me to Takematsu elementary school where I met up with the other World Campus participants. After everyone had arrived we walked inside and sat down in an empty classroom, waiting for the principal. Astonished by the sight of so many foreigners in one place, the elementary school kids quickly began to gather outside of the classroom and started staring at us. I didn’t feel uncomfortable being stared at because I think that children anywhere in the world would stare out of curiosity when seeing a group of people that don’t look like people they’re used to.
The principal finally arrived and we were taught the history of Takematsu elementary school. After also having explained some things we were not allowed to do, such as taking pictures of children and publishing them on social media, it was time for 書道, calligraphy in English. After going to the gymnasium and briefly introducing ourselves, we sat down with the children and started writing Chinese characters. I chose to write 嵐, meaning “storm”. Although I was pretty bad at it, the children helped me enough that I ended up with a presentable result. Then the children cleaned up after us and we were introduced to some typical Japanese games like 剣玉, literally translated “Sword-Ball”.
After about 30 minutes we returned to our classroom and waited for the kids to prepare for school lunch. We were sent into different classes and got to interact with the children while eating the school lunch. I made a small group of friends during that time so after we finished eating, they dragged me outside to play with them. On the way out one child had the idea of asking me for my signature and when the others saw that, it completely took off. All of us were surrounded by school kids asking for our signature for at least 10 minutes. When we finally made it outside, my small group of friends suggested we play tag. Of course I was the one who had to catch them and it wasn’t exactly cold on that day either so after we were done, I was drenched in sweat.
We then proceeded to clean the classroom with the children. This is actually part of the education at Japanese schools. They have to clean their own classroom, toilets etc. The children had a hard time believing that in Norway we have people who clean after everyone leaves the school in the afternoon. Anyhow, after having cleaned the classroom it was time to say goodbye. I really felt bad because my small group of friends I had made seemed quite sad that we were all leaving and they had to return to their daily school routine. We then moved to back to the Shorinji Kenpo Dojo we had been earlier that week and practiced for the upcoming Thank-You-event at the end of our stay in Omura.
Our host families came to pick us up and I just had enough time to take a shower before they took me to their daughters place and we all had a rooftop BBQ. The daughters children were pretty scared of me in the beginning but that went away pretty quickly when we started playing various games. The BBQ was also delicious. I discovered that I really like fried tofu. When it got dark outside we went inside and it turned out they had made a cake for me to “welcome me to the family.” I thought that was very sweet of them. Then I went home with my host family and we watched some TV before I went to bed. Overall it was a very successful day!
Magnus Krumbacher (Norway)
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