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HOME > Exchange page > Post-Programme exchange reports > Post-Programme Exchange and Activity reports > Interview with Ms. Thanh Thu Tran, a participant of the JENESYS Invitation Programme
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Post-Programme Exchange and Activity reports

Interview with Ms. Thanh Thu Tran, a participant of the JENESYS Invitation Programme

Ms. Thanh Thu Tran
2011 Australia Japanese Language University Student, Participant
An ex participant from JENESYS in year 2011 named Thanh Thu Tran (Ms.), of Australia, visited Ishinomaki City in Miyagi prefecture and worked for its disaster recovery as an intern. She told us the story about how the JENESYS programme had an impact on her.

Despite majoring in Japanese language and Japanese Studies, I had never been to Japan before JENESYS. I learnt through books, dramas, anime and manga but no hands-on experience on the Japanese culture and society. I learnt the language, but had never interacted with a Japanese in Japanese. I thought that was a fatal flaw in my learning and looked for every possible opportunity to go to Japan, and I found JENESYS.

Participating in the programme in December 2011, my view on Japan did not change, but I was very surprised with my awkwardness interacting with Japanese people during the programme. Learning 'about' Japan is very different from learning 'in' Japan.

Shortly after JENESYS, I went to Japan three times, all added up to almost two years. The first time was to Kanazawa University for one semester and the second time was Hitotsubashi University for one year. They were both exchange program arranged by my university. The third time was to Ishinomaki-shi, Ogatsu-cho from August 2013 until January 2014. This time I deliberately took a gap semester from Australian National University and decided to work as an intern for an NPO called sweet treat 311. The third trip to Ogatsu was directly influenced by my experience with JENESYS. Had I not gone with JENESYS to Tohoku (Iwate prefecture), I would not have gone to Ogatsu later on. The trip to Tohoku through the JENESYS was short, yet it left me countless questions about the future of Tohoku and the fate of the people living there, that I am still pondering about even now, after more than 2 years from the first visit.

The sweet treat 311 provides hands-on program for children, emphasizing on the beauty of nature in Ogatsu. They are also running a project called Ogatsu School Restoration Project. The project aims to revitalize Ogatsu after the heavy damages from the Great East Japan Earthquake. As an intern, I got the opportunity to conduct my own program for children. My program was to use the natural and mundane objects from the nearby mountains and the beaches (such as scallop shells, pinecones, ink-stone, etc) to make them into Christmas trees and ornaments. The purpose was to let the children see the value of the nature, which is aligned with the actual programs ran by staffs of sweet treat 311. I also had the opportunity to build friendship with the local people, interacted with volunteers from all over Japan and learnt Japanese style cooking.

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I believe my experience in Japan will be useful in my career. Not only I have developed my Japanese language skill, I have also built confidence in interacting with a range of people (working people, not just students), adaptability and independence. Furthermore, Japan is Australia's important trading partner and when I was in Japan, many Japanese firms have branches and factories in Vietnam, my birthplace. Thus, wherever I decide to work in the future, Australia, Vietnam, or Japan, I believe they will connect.

Lastly, I would like to give messages to future participants of youth exchange program; Be curious! Look around, ask people questions, or look up the Internet about whatever that intrigues you. And keep in touch with your host family!