Youth Group Visiting Japan
Japan is a truly special country.
(university student in the Phillipines May 2009)
I am currently enrolled in College of Business and Accountancy at University of Bohol.
I have been given many opportunities to make a positive impact within both my school and community. I represented my school and province of Bohol in Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) programme held last May 12-21, 2009.
Travelling to Japan was an amazing experience that I will always cherish. Ever since I was a youngster, I had always aspired to travel to other countries like Japan. I finally did it along with the other students and teachers last May.
The plane trip to Narita Airport was so exhausting but man, was I excited. During our stay in Japan, we visited many places.
Our first stop was Tokyo, where we had dinner at a restaurant with our group coordinators and JENESYS staff at Washington Hotel.
Tokyo is a stunning city that I will always remember. Flashing billboards, massive buildings nearly are touching the sky and swarms of young people frantically hurrying through the streets. That was definitely a Kodak moment for me.
As I have observed, I saw a clear balance between the constant development of Japan and its preservation of its heritage. The new types of technologies are evidence to Japanese being one of the top countries in terms of technological advances. Some of these advances are the robots, public transportation systems and the convenient facilities that surround us.
Despite all these, Japan does not lose its past. Instead, it honors it by retaining the traditions like sumo wrestling, on-sen (public bath) and the use of the kimono.
Travelling to Kobe, Hyogo by Shin-kansen (Bullet Train) was absolutely breathtaking. It just went too hideously fast. Visiting Kobe was a monumental highlight for me.
I experienced the surprising yet satisfying public bath which makes my body feel peaceful and then enjoyed the rest of the night with my host family.
I also saw that each person in Japan is instilled with respect for his or her own environment.
Smokers that smoke in only the right places and people throw away any trash that they see.
We see that parks, heritage sites and natural resources are constantly being preserved and protected despite having an economic boom.
The well planned infrastructures that are being built are safe, convenient and of high quality. The planning of the structures always includes the environmental aspect which is clearly a part of their lives.
With new technologies that are available such as solar, wind and nuclear power; they are able to conserve a massive amount of energy resources.
The home-stay families and high school students treated us well.
We experienced exotic Japanese food. I could not bring myself to eat the Sukiyaki, Raw Fish, Tofu, Wasabi and the mountains of White Rice offered to me. Watching Asian action movies was utterly bliss.
I was also invited to play the grand piano during their music class. I was surprised at the singing talent within the class as I played "Amazing Grace" then they sung it harmoniously.
During our farewell party with the Host Families, we were shocked and worried about the news from our coordinator that the AH1N1 virus is already in Kobe. For our health's sake, we must return to Tokyo via shin-kansen (bullet train) as soon as possible.
We were afraid because a study had shown that AH1N1 virus is acquired through air. But we keep on praying that God will be in the midst of our travel and keep us away from any symptoms of the virus.
At that time we Filipinos wonder, why it's raining in Kobe during summer.
Japan is a truly special country. The people are affectionate, it is particularly clean and the transport system is efficient.
There are so many similarities between the Japanese culture and Filipino culture.Eating variety of food and the respect for elders are some of the easily identifiable among the two cultures.
During our final three-days in Tokyo, we saw the character of the people which makes them globally competitive and able to further develop their country.
In the streets we see them walking and biking which contributes to their healthy living partnered with healthy meals throughout the day. Their culture of discipline and excellence makes them abide by the rules and laws while striving to do everything to the best of their ability.
However, sometimes being too much of a workaholic sacrifices their social and familial relationships with one another. Without the presence of a parent to guide the children it is quite hard to rear the child to have a proper lifestyle.
Also, due to their submitting and abiding attitude, some seem unable to freely express their emotions.However, I always see that they take on challenges as one and use those obstacles as stepping stones to a brighter future.
When I returned to the Philippines, I've learned through a text message that ecologist says the best way to clean the air is by rain. Now I know why it's raining during our farewell party in Kobe. I am really grateful to God that He is with us every time during our trip even if we were very emotional to leave our host family at an early moment and we were not able to say sayonara to all family members.
I am very grateful to all the people who made it possible for me to be in Japan. To the Student's Personnel Service of the University of Bohol, for recommending me as one of the Student Ambassador, Japan International Cooperation Center, Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths, National Youth Commission and to the Almighty God who gives us strength and good health every day in our travel. To all the coordinators and staff who sacrificed greatly for the program; I would like to say that I am privileged to be one of the Philippine Student Ambassador in Japan and take back my learnings from Japan and share it with my fellow Filipino people.
Because of the great effort that everybody has given away, I am inspired to be the next great people of our generation. I'm still looking forward to a great bond of friendship with Japan through the JENESYS Programme.
Domou arigatou gozaimasu! (Thank you very much!)