Tag Archives: Omuta

Bittersweet goodbyes: The last activity day in Session one

Group photo with the helping staff of the stamp rally at Eruru
Group photo with the helping staff of the stamp rally at Eruru

Today we first started with a stamp rally event in an arcade mall.

We were divided into 8 groups and each group was assigned to a flower shop, a sports shop, a tea shop, a cafe, a Swedish restaurant, a Japanese snack store, a deli store and a clothes store.

We had students from National Institute of Technology, Ariake college (有明高専) to help us and we could chat with them during the stamp rally. When children and their parents came to the store they greeted us using “hello” and “my name is —-” in our own languages such as Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, Finnish and so on and if they were able to say the greeting words then we gave our stamp on their rally sheet. I was a cameraman during the event but I could see all the kids and parents seemed having fun with talking with us although they were nervous to say the words from the beginning and atmosphere in the all the shops were very welcomed!

It was the first time to have this event in WCI but it all went smoothly and about 120 people including kids and their parents registered to join the activity, which means we put our stamps about 120 times, but it was worth to it! The purpose of this activity was to bring kids to the arcade street and let them know what kind of shops there are. Even though we didn’t think we helped with the sales of the various shops it was a nice opportunity to get the people know the stores and hopefully this opportunity brings about an another one and that those who visited us would come back to stores to buy stuff in the future.

After lunch, we went to Omuta shrine where daija (dragon float) was exhibited. People living around this area join Daijayama festival since they are young so it’s very familiar festival and although the festival is in middle of July they start making daija and practicing ohayashi which is a traditional festival music sounded by drums and flutes from May.

After visiting the shrine, we came back to Eruru and had our session wrap up.

Everyone shared how they broke out of their comfort zone and one of their best experiences during the session. Let me share some experiences from people; trying to eat natto as much as possible even though they didn’t like it, using Japanese style bathrooms, practicing dancing and performing it on the Arigato events! It wasn’t all unconditional fun, sometimes it was difficult to accept other cultures or things, but if possible everyone tried to have new experiences and adapt changes.

It was only 3 weeks but we spent most of the time together and through every activity we got closer and all the time we spent together became memorable.

Thanks, everyone, for making this a great time.

To everyone
One, two.. GOOD JOB!!

Shoko Mizuno (Japan)

Curry and Arigato Event in Omuta

Lunch break and relaxing with the two Colombians and Isak
Lunch break and relaxing with the two Colombians and Isak

Japanese people have something with the food. When they know I am from Colombia, the first thing they would ask is “what are some Colombian food?” or “what’s your favorite Japanese food?” Afterward, the question would probably be “where is Colombia?”

Today, 30th of July, we’ve got the challenge to actually cook our food, and not just eat Japanese food. Our task was to make Japanese style curry. Got to say I was worried about it… it wouldn’t be nice to end up with no lunch because we messed it up. But we made it!

Some curry, lots of rice, salad, that is never forgotten here, and some sweets, such as pancakes which were my favorite. The curry was amazingly good! I am still having trouble believing we did it. It is not complicated, just needs patience.

After lunch, we had a proper break as we hadn’t had one since day one in World Campus – Japan. Back then the staff were soft to us, because after that, the breaks became 5-minute breaks for the bathroom and drinking water, max 10. Too many things to do, no time to lose. Plus, we really needed it because the tiredness has accumulated from these 2 weeks, almost 3, and there are even some sick people among us… nothing to worry though.

Finally, we had to get ready for Arigato Event. Though my friend Natalia, the other Colombian girl, was feeling sick in the afternoon, she was better for the actual event! I was so relieved she didn’t have something serious.

Got to say, from the bottom of my heart, that I was so nostalgic and sentimental at the time someone made me realized that it was the last Arigato Event for session one, and the last for me in total. It has been amazing and unbelievable, this journey with World Campus International, and I am at days of the final goodbye! Feeling part of a group, a place where to feel comfortable, is something I really appreciate because I am not good at integrating. And this feeling was strong and alive in all time around Arigato Event. I am so glad and proud to be able to say I made amazing friends.

Nicole Rosario (Colombia)

A busy school day in Arao

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I went to the elementary school today. A little interaction, some fear probably is what I thought. I’m a whole different kind of person compared to a Japanese person so it’s hard to tell how Japanese kids will react. When we were sitting and the kids started to file in, I realized that our audience was a whole lot bigger than I had imagined. They also were all small and cute.

When we performed the Japan medley we usually perform at the Arigatou events, the kids reacted so strongly it was hard not to put my all into it. When we did the bread song, “alele”, Thomas had a fun time instructing the kids, and they matched his enthusiasm. It was fun to see their reactions and see them sing along with the songs we prepared. When we finished and we were left with just the 6th graders, it was fun to meet all of them and hear their reaction to our countries. The kids were a little shocked that American football stadiums are so big. One kid even knew the Golden Gate Bridge. It was kind of hard to talk fast about the country, sign our names and give them a sticker.

After we did that game with the 6th graders, we visited classes. It is so hard to say what class I liked most because all of the kids were so sweet and friendly. In the 1st grade class, we made paper snowflakes, which I was so relieved because I’m horrible at origami. The kids gave us their snowflakes as a present – so cute! However, as we went through 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade, I realized this was the case for all of these classes. They gave us little presents like pictures or origami animals. I had them all sign one so I could try to remember their adorable generosity in the future.

Sitting in the classes with four other people with you is much less intimidating. Plus, all the kids – plus the teachers – were super, super nice. I had lunch with Juuso (a WCI counselor) in 5th grade, and some of the girls were impressed with my multiple ear piercings and my heart tattoo. Even the 5th grade boys were willing to talk with me, which previously wasn’t really the case. It was nice to get to know them a little. Then, when we got to have free time with the kids outside or recess as we call it in the US, a lot of the kids wanted to play with us. One little 2nd grader grabbed my hand though, and led me around the large playground with a friend. They both chatted with me despite my broken Japanese, and gained other girls who joined the conversation of what Disney princess they liked and if I could understand Japanese or if they could understand English. When they said goodbye to me when the bell rang and ran towards the middle, they kept looking back so it made me want to run in with them and just stay. Maybe stay forever.

When I made it back to the library where we had breaks, we arranged ourselves to talk with the teachers. The teachers were all very nice and were super impressed with Juuso’s and Isak’s Japanese proficiency. It was a little funny because if Isak spoke Japanese, he translated what he just said into English for me. It was interesting to hear the discussion about diversity, English and bilingualism, how school systems work not only in Japan but also the U.S., Sweden and Finland, and learn a little more about the teachers who help mold those sweet kids into fully functioning members of society. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I was very tempted to volunteer as an ALT for free. I hope that everyone from WCI gets to experience this kind of school.

Whitney Herbert (USA)