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HOME > Testimonials > Programme testimonials > (2) Dispatch > Youth Dispatched > October 18, 2010: Participants in the JENESYS 2009 High School Student Dispatch Programme from Ritsumeikan Uji Senior High School who Visited Thailand Organized a Booth and a Panel Display at the School Festival! (There Are Interviews Too!)

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Youth Dispatched

October 18, 2010: Participants in the JENESYS 2009 High School Student Dispatch Programme from Ritsumeikan Uji Senior High School who Visited Thailand Organized a Booth and a Panel Display at the School Festival! (There Are Interviews Too!)

 On the day of the school festival, as I got off the bus and approached the school gates, I was able to hear voices calling out cheerfully, trying to attract visitors. One could feel the whole school's zeal: "Let's make this school festival a success and have a great time!" The pamphlet with the vivid color scheme and the familiar old phrase was devised so that one could tell at a glance what time and where it would take place.


 In the summer of 2010, five members of the delegation who were sent to Thailand on the JENESYS High School Student Dispatch Programme for nine days and who themselves established a group called "Rits-LABO" to make a contribution in the international arena, and twenty or so support staff who are sympathetic to their activities, organized a booth and a panel display with photographs.
 The outdoor booth and the panel display with photographs in the classroom took place simultaneously, with the staff involved taking turns at each, so the timetable distributed to the staff conveyed a clear sense of their objective:
"At the booth, the most important thing is for everyone to have fun selling the goods! But we would appreciate your cooperation in conveying to everyone that the objective is not to sell souvenirs, but 'to solve the waste problem in Thailand!'"

 The booth, which I visited first of all, was a superb space emanating the fragrance of Thailand, with a large amount of souvenirs that the five program participants had acquired as buyers for the stall.

212-005.jpg      212-008.jpg

 It seems that the buyers had good taste. The booth was very busy and all of the sales staff dealt with a deluge of customers.

 Amidst this atmosphere, the first person I spoke to was the deputy group leader Ms. S, a third-year student whose sweet smile contrasted with the efficient way in which she gave instructions, seeming like the "big-sister" type on whom everyone could rely. She was the only one who actually had any experience of going to Thailand, and had even lived there.

Q: What was the impetus for your participation in the JENESYS Dispatch Programme?
212-018.jpgMs. S: I lived in Thailand for seven years, from my second year of elementary school to my first year of junior high school.
 As a result of that experience, I initially wanted to solve the problem of poverty in Thailand, so I was looking for ways of doing this or a group implementing initiatives to that end, but I was unable to find anything. I also wrote about this in the JICA essay contest and received the JOCA President's Award.
 When the application forms for this dispatch program were handed out at school, I applied, thinking,
"This is how I want to solve the problem of poverty in Thailand; this is the only way."
 After going to university, one can become involved in some kinds of activities through university clubs, but I wanted to do something right now, while I was still a high school student.

Precisely because I had lived in Thailand, there were things that I didn't see

 However, when we went to Thailand on the program, rather than poverty, what everyone else saw as a problem were the mountains of garbage and the fact that the streets were dirty. Initially, I thought, "This is just Thailand," but when they came to mention it, it was different from Japan. I had lived in Thailand when I was a child, so before I knew it, I had come to accept the dirty streets and mountains of garbage as part of the environment as a matter of course.
 During this program, my own attitude and way of perceiving things gradually changed, so it was an excellent learning experience for me.

Q: What things made a particular impression on you during the program?
Ms. S: It was the care facility for victims of human trafficking that we visited, which was a recipient of ODA. Children who had been sold by their natural parents live there, although we were unable to meet any of them directly. If I had been in that situation, I am sure that I would have borne a grudge against my parents. However, according to one of the staff at the facility, they still respect their parents and say that they want to meet them. This brought home to me the pure, calm character of the Thai people.

 In addition, when we said to the JICE staff that, "We want to buy Thai souvenirs to sell at our booth," they were kind enough to find a way to incorporate some shopping time at a market into the schedule.
 We are really grateful that they responded so flexibly, even though it was a sudden request. We have nothing but feelings of gratitude towards the JICE staff.
 Looking at the way they went about their work, I came to think that I would like to do this kind of job as well.


 During the interview, an uninterrupted stream of customers visited the booth and the souvenirs were selling like hot cakes. It was still early in the morning, so they even had to bring out the stock that they had set aside for the afternoon. There were shrieks of delight.

212-062.jpg      212-037.jpg


 The staff going around energetically advertising the booth with handmade cardboard signs and cheerful voices also had a superb ability to attract customers.

 The next person with whom I was able to speak was the second-year student who was inspiring the rest of the group, Mr. T.

Q: Please tell me about your impression of Thailand.
Mr. T: Before going there, I knew nothing apart from tom yum goong soup and the Thai dancing that I had seen on the TV. What were most memorable from my visit were the really good points, such as the good nature of the Thai people.
 However, if I had to mention a problem, it would be the garbage. The hotel where we stayed was comparatively good, but from the windows of our rooms, we could see mountains of garbage and many stray dogs. We also saw such things from the bus when we were on the move as well. I realized that this is something that does not happen in Japan, and I was concerned about the hygiene aspects.

What I thought was a wall was the students all lined up in a row! Impressed by the overwhelmingly warm welcome

Q: What made a particular impression on you as a result of the JENESYS Programme?
Mr. T: It was the school visit. The warm welcome by the whole school gave us a taste of what it felt like to be celebrities, from the instant we stepped off the bus.
 It seemed like the wall of the school was moving somehow, but when I looked properly, all of the students, wearing pink shirts, were packed together in a line at the windows and were looking in our direction; I was startled by how many of them there were. From the very beginning we came into contact with this kind of friendly atmosphere, so it was easy for us to join in and we quickly came to want to talk to them.
 In Japan, when welcoming guests from overseas, in most cases I think it is just the class or year group that welcomes them, rather than the whole school, and the others just think "Oh, they're here," but it was different in Thailand. I thought that this was something that we Japanese could learn from.

 In addition, this is not something directly related to Thailand, but during our program, we were able to switch on and off properly. During the meetings, we settled down quickly and were serious, but at mealtimes and other times, we chatted away and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I believe that this was thanks to the JICE coordinator *1, who skillfully created an atmosphere in which this was possible.

Q: What did you feel about Japan while you were in Thailand?
Mr. T: During the home visit, we went to a household where a high school student lived, and I felt that Japanese anime and fashions had permeated popular culture. When I watched a Japanese anime on TV, it felt somehow strange to hear the characters that I knew well talking in Thai. They said that "Japanese anime is interesting." I was surprised at their wide-ranging knowledge of anime, including some that I had not even heard of.

I changed from being passive to having a more proactive approach

Q: Tell me about international exchange among high school students.
Mr. T: High school is a time when students are thinking about their options after leaving school and what they want to do in the future, so I think it is a good thing.
 After going to Thailand, I too thought that I wanted to become involved in international exchange in the future and there were things that I wanted to do.
 I was also greatly influenced by the senior and junior students who participated in the program with me. From the preparation stage through to our activities after returning home, everyone worked with all their might in regard to everything, without compromising about anything. Looking at this, I, who had tended to be passive up to this point, developed a more proactive stance, thinking, "Let's do this, let's do that." I think that I have gained a lot from this program.

Q: What message do you have for the students from Chiryu Higashi High School, who were dispatched to Thailand in the same group as you?
Mr. T: I would like to express my feelings of gratitude for everything while we were in Thailand, and that we will doubtless experience various difficulties in our activities in the future, but I would like us to overcome them together.

Rits-LABO will not stop in the future! We are waiting for people who want to participate!

Q: What message do you have for those of the same generation who are interested in international exchange, but do not know what to do about it?
Mr. T: We think that there must be many high school students like that, as well.
 If they think "I want to make an international contribution or I want to engage in international cooperation," we would certainly like them to join Rits-LABO, without hesitating, and participate in our activities.

>>>Anyone who is interested should send an e-mail to HERE (rits-labo2010@hotmail.co.jp)

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to say before we finish?
Mr. T: I would like to go back to Thailand once more with the same group members. I would like to provide a report on the outcomes of our activities in Thailand.


 I talked to Mr. H, a third-year student who was the leader, who was trusted and respected greatly by the group members who went to Thailand, as well as the support staff.

212-059.jpgQ: What provided the impetus for you to apply to participate in the programme?
Mr. H: My club activities had finished and I wanted to work on something worthwhile, plus I was already interested in making an international contribution.
 At our school, the application requirements for the program included "After returning home, the participants should carry out activities aimed at making an international contribution." At the time I applied, I really did not know what I could do, but I thought that if I could find out after returning home, then it would be worth participating.

I think Japanese people should learn more about Japan, as well as other countries

Q: What did you feel about Japan while you were in Thailand?
Mr. H: My image of Japan and the relationship between Japan and Thailand has changed.
 I responded to JICE questionnaires before and after the program, and in both there was the question "Does the Japanese economy have an impact on Thailand?" With regard to this, although I thought nothing of it before going, after returning home, I really thought "It definitely does."
 Japan has various impacts on Thailand. It is not just anime: many companies have expanded into Thailand. I do not know what kind of image Thai people have of Japanese companies, but it is a fact that they have a major influence.
 During this program, I felt that Thai people know a lot about Japan and like it.
 However, I think that there are many Japanese people who do not know about Thailand or the fact that Japan is appreciated in Thailand. I did not know anything either until I went to Thailand.
 I thought that Japanese people should learn more about Japan, as well as other countries. If they did so, I think they would be able to be proud of their own country and culture once more, and get to like other countries more, including Thailand.

Q: Were there any parts of the program that you thought would have been better if they had been changed in some way?
Mr. H: The mangrove planting that we did at an elementary school was an excellent experience, and at the time I thought that, "Environmental problems are already being tackled in Thailand," but we did not see any other similar initiatives and from what other people said, the actual environmental problems were serious.
 Through our visit to the model school, we were able to sense their awareness of resolving environmental problems in Thailand, so in that sense I think it was significant, but I do feel that I wanted to take a closer look at the garbage mountains, which were closer to the reality.

 In addition, when we participated in an exchange event at a school, I would have liked a bit more time to speak quietly with the students.
 We were all standing around in a state of excitement, and it ended hurriedly, with us taking photographs and exchanging e-mail addresses. We understood that everyone on the Thai side had been preparing for this exchange event for a while, and welcomed us wholeheartedly, so we were truly delighted.
 However, if we had had the time to sit together one-to-one, or even ten-to-ten, and talk to each other more slowly, I think that we would have been able to link the exchange to this activity much sooner. This is because ultimately, we only started talking about the garbage issue after we returned home.

With the aim of resolving the serious garbage problem in Thailand, we embarked upon the first step, which was the separation of waste

212-069.jpgQ: Please tell me about the project you are currently undertaking.
Mr. H: Everyone in Thailand welcomed us and interacted with us really warmly all of the time, no matter where we went. Consequently, we decided that we wanted to do "something that would really benefit them."
 As a result of contacting the Thai students by e-mail and exchanging opinions with them, we felt that the garbage problem was the most serious one, so we decided to aim to resolve this first of all.
 What we thought was the first step towards this was the separation of waste. In Thailand, there is a mechanism for the separation of waste, but actually there is only one waste bin in each place so, ultimately, everything ends up being thrown away together. That is why there is a low level of awareness amongst the populace.
 Accordingly, first of all, we decided to set up bins for the separated collection of waste in the schools where we had participated in exchange activities. If activities focused on the separated collection of waste at the schools with which we are involved lead to a change in awareness among the people around the school, bins for the separated collection of waste might one day be set up around the city as well.

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 Consequently, we devised this project as a bilateral initiative.

 We would send to Thailand the money that we had obtained by selling in Japan the souvenirs that we had purchased in Thailand, as well as by exchanging the caps of PET bottles for cash.*2
 In Thailand, the local students would also obtain money, as they had found a company that would exchange the caps of PET bottles for cash in the same way.
 Putting this money together, we would have the students in Thailand locally purchase bins for the separated collection of waste. Of the two schools where we engaged in exchanged activities, one school assented to this idea, so at the end of October (2010), the students announced this collaborative project to the other students at a whole-school assembly and called on them to cooperate with us.

I want to make use of our failures in our next initiative, linking our experiences to confidence, and progressing to the next step

 I think that it really was a good thing that I was able to participate in this program. It is extremely valuable to be able, while still at high school, to experience a worthwhile project that we ourselves had planned and would benefit somebody. We have already failed many times, for example thinking that we should have contacted the students earlier, or that we should have checked something first. As a result, we caused some problems for the people around us. We are striving to ensure that we make use of our failures in our next initiative. There is the fact that if you do not actually do something, you will not find out how it goes. I would like to link these experiences to confidence, and progress to the next step at university.


 Although he spoke about "exchanging the caps of PET bottles for money," they only get \10 to \20 for 200 caps, so considerable perseverance is required. The target number was 10,000 caps.*3 When they gave a presentation at school about the current situation in Thailand and the plan, they were able to obtain a great deal of cooperation, and the aforementioned numerous support staff began to participate in activities with them.
 Here, the teacher said, "The support staff are also important members of Rits-LABO, so I really would like you to hear what they have to say," and brought them to meet me.

A country different from Japan, which we have heard about from our friends. We decided that we wanted to know more, and to cooperate and help them out.

Q: What was the impetus for your becoming Rits-LABO support staff?
Support Staff (hereinafter abbreviated to SS): I was originally interested in other countries. I was brought up solely in Japan, so I wanted to improve myself by getting to know another country better.
 In addition, I heard from the program participants about things like the children who are forced to work in Thailand, so I wanted to cooperate in doing something to help.

SS: Until now, I have not had much opportunity to learn about other countries, but I learned about the situation in Thailand and the garbage problem from the presentation given by the participants, and discovered that the country was totally different from Japan. Accordingly, I wanted to cooperate and do something to help out.

SS: I thought that it would be good to engage in international exchange and cooperation with other high school students. I think that the time has come when we will set our sights on the world from a young age.

Q: What are your dreams for the future?
SS: What I would like to learn in the future is English. If English was one of my skills, I could do various things. Rather than a job that involves only English, such as translation or interpreting, I would like to use my English skills in various fields.

SS: I am interested in management and would like to study it at university as well. Accordingly, I would like to strive to study English and do a job that involves dealing with people overseas.

Q: What message do you have for those of the same generation who are interested in international exchange, but do not know what to do about it?
SS: By being interested, we learned various things, so we would like them to try to learn on their own initiative. I think that everything will spread out from that.

SS: Rather than just thinking first "what can I do well and how can I do it," the important thing is to act, because I think it is crucial to work it out through a process of trial and error.


212-033.jpg I moved inside the school building to the area where the panel display with photographs had been set up. The classroom featured many photographs and panels created in an easily understood fashion concerning the issues in Thailand and the activities that the students have undertaken, and some staff members were explaining various things.

 One of the support staff was among them, so I asked that person a few things.

Q: What was the impetus for you to become one of the Rits-LABO support staff?
212-031.jpgSS: Initially, I wondered what kind of country Thailand was, and thought that it must be dirty, but when I heard from the program participants that it was a superb country and that it does have a serious garbage problem, I thought, "I must think about this as though it was my own problem." The trigger for my starting this activity was thinking that if it was possible to resolve the garbage problem through something minor, then I would like to help too.

Due to the words and actions of the participants who had returned, I realized that people could change a great deal by actually going to the place in question

Q: Tell me about the changes in the program participants.
SS: The biggest change was in the two first-year students. After going to Thailand, I heard them debating in their class about the garbage problem. Seeing them undertaking the separation of waste themselves was impressive and I was amazed that actually going to the place in question could change people so much.

212-076.jpgQ: Tell me about international exchange among high school students.
SS: I think that I was very lucky to become involved in international exchange at this early stage. I think that there are many students who, even if they want to engage in international exchange or have the will to learn another language, are not lucky enough to be in the right environment or have the necessary opportunities to do so. With regard to this point, our school has an abundance of such opportunities. The things one feels as a result of this kind of experience differ according to one's age, so I believe that it is better to feel them at as early a stage as possible.
 I have been at this school since I was at junior high school and I came to have a stronger interest in other countries as a result of experiencing a homestay in Australia when I was in my third year of junior high school. I do not have that much experience of spending time overseas, but I often chat with people on the internet and speak English.

There is something I want to convey to students across the globe

Q: What are your dreams for the future?
SS: To become a schoolteacher. The biggest thing that I want to teach people about right now is the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. I want to teach foreign students more about that. About atomic bombs and war. And about the country of Japan. I would like to teach people various things about such topics. That is my dream.


212-070.jpg I felt his strong belief amidst his calm smile and way of speaking. I thought that if the words were coming from him, they would go straight to the hearts of students from any country, without any bias.

 I was surprised by their strong sense of purpose and enthusiasm for Thailand, because just as the teacher had said, they were as enthusiastic as the participants, even though they had not taken part in the program themselves.

 Next, I spoke with the two first-year students who were reported to have "changed due to participating in the program." Firstly, I spoke with Ms. Y, whose beaming smile was highly memorable.

Q: Please tell me about your impressions of Thailand before and after participating in the program.
Ms. Y: Before going, I thought of it as a "developing country," so its image in my mind was rural.
 However, once I actually went there, I was really surprised to find that the capital, Bangkok, is a splendid city lined with many high-rise buildings. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is totally different from that in Japanese cities. The buildings and cars are very colorful. For example, there were taxis painted shocking pink.

I met a student who had come to Japan on the JICE JENESYS Invitation Programme!

Q: Tell me about your interaction with the Thai high school students.
Ms. Y: I was really worried because I cannot speak English at all, but students came who were studying Japanese in an optional class, so we were able to have fun and communicate. They could hold an ordinary conversation in Japanese.
 Among them was a student who had previously been to Japan on the JENESYS Invitation Programme implemented by JICE, so that student told me about having been to Tokyo and Hiroshima, and travelling around by bus.

212-054y.jpgQ: What things made a particular impression on you during the programme?
Ms. Y: The home visit. I was surprised, because the high-class residential area that was our destination had a gate and when going in by car, you had to show your credentials to the guard.
 There were lots of sweets at the house, and they were kind enough to give me fruit such as mango and mangosteen. However, we only had less than one hour at the house, and then we were taken off to Ayutthaya*4 We put lotus flowers in water and applied gold leaf to a statue of Buddha. At the World Heritage site, we were able to feel closer to Thai culture by being taught by a local person how to pray.

 However, after the day's program finished, our meeting took around two hours and this went on every day, so towards the end I was a bit tired.

 In order to reduce the amount of luggage I had, I did my laundry each night in the bath, but by the time I had done this, it was already midnight. Sometimes, I became exhausted before I had dried my hair and fell asleep without even covering myself with the quilt. It was the result of everyone working hard in earnest, so I think it was a good thing, but I think that there are a few things that deserve further consideration in regard to the allocation of time.

I think that you cannot do anything unless it is fun. I want people to learn more about the "fun" behind it.

Q: What message do you have for those of the same generation who are interested in international exchange?

Ms. Y: I would like them to get into it by visiting our display of photographs, for example. First of all, I would like them to learn that it is "fun." This is because I think that you cannot do anything unless it is fun.
 Even people who think, "I don't want to be involved in something like the separation of waste" might change if they learned about the fun that you can have as a result of the international exchange behind it.

Q: What do you think about the continuation of the JENESYS Programme?
Ms. Y: I did not know that it is due to finish at the end of July 2012. I really do not want it to finish. I think that there are many people who would be unable to go to these countries even if they wanted to, without this kind of program. There are still limits to what we can do right now. The places we visited were ones that one just cannot visit in the course of normal sightseeing, such as sites receiving ODA and the Japanese Embassy, so this program enables participants to have really valuable experiences. I really would like it to continue.

Q: What relationship do you have with Chiryu Higashi High School, whose students were dispatched to Thailand in the same group as you?
Ms. Y: Initially, I was anxious about whether we would be able to get on with them, but the students from Chiryu were very kind and spoke to us first. We were able to enjoy spending time together during the program as well.
 The truth is that we planned to cooperate with the students from Chiryu and engage in activities aimed at solving problems in Thailand, but after we returned home, differences emerged in the directions for which we were aiming, so it became difficult to collaborate. However, even though our objectives and methods may differ, there is no difference in the fact that we are acting with Thailand in mind, so I would like to continue to keep in touch with them in the future.

There are things that even high school students can achieve if we all cooperate together

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to say before we finish?
Ms. Y: (a little bashfully) I want to say "Let's all get involved in making an international contribution from our high school years onwards!" I want to tell people that there are things that even high school students can achieve if we all cooperate together.


 Following on from this, I spoke to Ms. T, who has a steadfast, responsible air about her.

Q: What provided the impetus for you to apply to participate in the programme?
Ms. T: At the elementary school that I went to, we engaged in activities to raise money to clear landmines in Rwanda. As a result, I had been interested in volunteering and international cooperation for some time. However, after graduating from that elementary school, I just could not find any opportunities to get involved, so I just did things like donating money in the street. Just when I was thinking "I want to do something," they were soliciting applications for this program, so I applied, thinking "I just have to do it".

Q: Please tell me about your impressions of Thailand before and after participating in the program.
Ms. T: I was looking forward to going, but it was just at the time when the riots were taking place, so I was also anxious, as you might expect. In addition, I had heard that the water was not very good, so I was quite concerned about things like what I would do if I had stomachache. My parents were also really worried and said to me, "Are you really going to go?"
 But once I actually went, all my worries disappeared in an instant. It was a really nice place, with kind people and lots of greenery, and I was able to enjoy the visit through to the end, without getting sick.

Inspired by the Thai students' desire to study

Q: What are the differences between Thailand and Japan?
Ms. T: Coming into contact with people of the same generation at schools, I thought that they had an amazing desire to study. They say that Thai children want to study and love studying. They also study Japanese and proactively spoke to us in Japanese, as well as sending us e-mails in Japanese, asking us to correct them if they had made any mistakes. I thought that I too must study harder.

 In addition, there is the garbage problem, which is related to the activities that we are undertaking at present.
 Before returning home from Thailand, we gave a presentation to Thai people, as a pre-workshop, about the things we had felt in Thailand and the differences from Japan. When we said "Thailand has problems in terms of hygiene," there were people nodding in agreement, so I thought that they themselves also have an awareness of wanting to do something about it.

This triggered an interest in ways of using tax revenue. This kind of usage makes me happy.

Q: Tell me what you think about JENESYS as a national government initiative.
Ms. T: Until I participated in this program, I did not know much about how tax revenue was used. It triggered an interest in such matters.
 In addition, I am happy to learn that some of our tax money is being used for projects like this that link countries together, as I think it is a very good thing.


 At Ritsumeikan Uji Senior High School, there are five foreign students from Thailand.
 The amount of time they are spending studying overseas varies, as does their ability level in both Japanese and English, but they are all in the ordinary classes and take lessons alongside the Japanese students.
 They apparently provided a lot of cooperation with regard to the activities of Rits-LABO from the stage of preparing for the school festival, helping out by putting up photographs and asking "Is there anything I can do to help?"

212-091.jpg  That day, the day of the school festival, they appeared in beautiful, glittering Thai clothes. They were in charge of a stall where they taught people how to write their names in the Thai alphabet. Everyone was highly interested and before we knew it, a queue had formed of people waiting their turn.
 I was able to speak to two of the Thai students.

Japan as seen from the perspective of a Thai student


Q: For how long have you been studying Japanese?

Male Thai student: I have been studying for five years.
Female Thai student: For two years.

Q: Why are you studying Japanese?
Male Thai student: I like Japan and am interested in manga and Japanese culture.

Q: What image do you have of Japan?
Male Thai student: I thought that it must be a lovely country. Once I actually came here, I felt that Japanese people are very kind. I really like everyone.

Female Thai student: I thought it was a hi-tech country. That impression remains the same since coming here.

 In addition, Japanese cuisine differs slightly from Thai food, so it is very interesting. Right now, I am doing a homestay at the home of some Japanese people, and I eat Japanese food as well. It is absolutely fine and I love it. I have put on about 8 kg since coming to Japan. It is delicious, so I eat far too much.

Q: What is Japanese school life like?
Female Thai student: The study is a little hard, but I am doing my best. I have joined the baton-twirling club, so the time I spend on club activities and with friends is good fun.

Rits-LABO is working on issues in our home country of Thailand. I too want to do whatever I can to help.

Q: Tell me about the recent activities of Rits-LABO.

Male Thai student: I think they are great.
 I am helping them to find Thai companies that will cooperate with this project, but I do not think that it is hard work. It is fine. This is Thailand's problem. Everyone is working to help Thailand. Consequently, I want to work with them to do whatever I can to help.

Female Thai student: I think it is interesting. Thailand's garbage problem is serious. In Thailand, there is only one waste bin in each place, so everything gets thrown away together and is not separated.
 Culturally, it is very difficult to instill in people the custom of separating waste at this stage, so although there are various things that are rather hard, I would like to cooperate with this initiative.


 Finally, I spoke to the teacher who accompanied the group.

Q: What changes did you see in the students as a result of their participation in this programme?
Teacher: The participants did not know each other. However, after going to Thailand, the sense of cohesion between them grew stronger and I felt that they became more confident, and their motivation increased.

The high school years are the period when young people's horizons broaden tremendously. Providing them with challenges and opportunities enables students to grow further.

Q: What do you think about international exchange during the high school years?
Teacher: It is an excellent period, I think, because their horizons and world broaden tremendously. I think that when teachers and groups implementing programs provide them with challenges and opportunities, they grow further.

Q: What preparation was done in advance?
Teacher: We held five or six preparatory lessons, inviting people who are actually conducting international activities to speak to the students. Our intention was also to strengthen the bonds between the group members before they went to Thailand.

Q: Tell me what you think about the fact that the JENESYS Programme is an initiative of the national government.
Teacher: The budget screening process is really difficult right now.
 I think that a great deal depends on the way in which the program is put together. If implemented from the advance preparation stage through to activities after returning home, I believe it will have significance as an ongoing project.
 In fact, immediately after returning home from Thailand, I went to Germany for a study tour. Germany was great as well, of course, but I felt anew that "Japan definitely is Asia," so I think that programs like JENESYS, which value our links to East Asia, are important projects.

Q: What are the reasons why the activities have flourished after returning home?
Teacher: At this school, we solicited applications with the condition that "After returning home, you will engage in an activity that makes some kind of international contribution," because we were not thinking of this program as a one-off international exchange, but rather positioned it as "a tool for helping the students to grow further."
 The students think about all of the actual content of the activities and methods used for these. The teachers at this school are all aware of the need to improve the self-reliance of the students, and educate them to this end. But there are still students who do not do anything until they have been told to, so I want them to try harder.

It is actually very difficult to "do something for someone"

Q: What would you like the members of Rits-LABO to learn from these activities?
Teacher: Right now, everyone is working really hard, because they "want to do something for Thailand," but I want them to feel that it is actually very difficult to "do something for someone." If you put a foot wrong, there is a danger that it will just become self-satisfaction. However, even if it is difficult, there is definitely meaning in doing it. I would like them to experience themselves changing and growing as a result of acting.


 Supported by the warm, strong tailwind provided by their teachers, they are growing while thinking flexibly, listening to what various people have to say and building good relationships. The activities at this school after returning home have been so proactive that they have even surprised us in the implementing organization; they have done splendidly, with bins for the separated collection of waste being set up at a Thai high school. >>> Click HERE for further details of their activities.

212-064.jpg Thinking and acting for oneself. Learning from one's mistakes and linking this to greater confidence.
 As a result of reporting on this, I have become certain that "high school students can change the world through their own way of doing things."

 It is not just about the Japanese side "giving" and "telling the Thai side that they should do this."
 I believe that the method they have chosen, which involves discussing things together, ensuring everyone is convinced, and cooperating in achieving a target, really is the ideal, beautiful form.

 In March 2011, the third-year members on whom they had relied graduated, but everyone in Rits-LABO is filled with the desire to continue their activities in the long term and make them even more dynamic.
 Right now, while continuing their activities focused on the garbage problem through their interaction with Thailand, they are also apparently thinking about "what we can do" in regard to the Great East Japan Earthquake, and are trying to do something to help in Japan.

 JICE will continue to watch and support the activities of Rits-LABO in the future as well!


*1 A full-time staff member of JICE who has a full knowledge of the language and culture of the local country, and of course fluency in Japanese. During a programme, the coordinator will lead the mission, and more than just interpreting, will look after the practical side of life for participants.
 The coordinator pays particularly close attention to maintaining security, so that all members of the mission can participate in the programme with a sense of security and can return safely to Japan.

*2 After that, a teacher and Thai high school students engaged in study overseas at the school agreed to become involved in the activities of Rits-LABO and were kind enough to take the money raised in Japan to Thailand, so the group was apparently able to save on the cost of bank transfer fees.

*3 As a result, as many as 25,600 caps were collected! >>> Click HERE

*4 A town designated a World Heritage Site, located about 76 km north of the capital, Bangkok.

>>>Students from ten schools were dispatched on this Programme. Click HERE to see what they have been up to since their return to Japan.