A Day of Photos, Games, and Fun

Old shopping street in Omuta
Old shopping street in Omuta

I woke up this morning much earlier than I had wanted to, but no matter how hard I tried to sleep again, the bright sunlight outside greeted me and told me to get up. With another two hours until breakfast, I slowly prepared for the day: getting dressed, organizing my things, and learning another few Japanese words that I would soon forget. Just before breakfast, I walked into the dining room to be greeted by sleepy Otoha, my 7-year-old host sister. After a late breakfast of eggs, miso soup, and rice, it was time to start my day with World Campus – Japan.

We gathered at Eruru around 9 and after a short briefing about the upcoming event, we were off to the shopping street to set up for the fair. There were over a dozen high schoolers from the area that were there to help out and we all introduced ourselves before getting started. Of course, I forgot all of their names right after they said them. Paul (China), Jean-Michel (Luxembourg), and I were on yo-yo duty first. They arranged for half of us to have lunch from 11:15 to 11:30, while the other half stayed at the fair and had lunch from 11:35-11:50, but that definitely didn’t go as planned. I was in the first group for lunch but when we got there, we waited for our sandwiches and onigiri until 11:35 and so we had to bring the other group their food instead. But the onigiri was really good, so I’d say it was worth the wait.

After lunch, we moved to the photo booth, where we took pictures with all of the cute children that came. They also had mochitsuki, which is where rice is pounded to make mochi, which we all got to do. They told us to use it as a way to express our anger. I got to taste some of the mochi and it was very chewy, almost a gum-like consistency. In America, they fill the mochi with ice cream, but these were equally as good. My group was supposed to be on drink duty at the end, but no one was really buying drinks anymore, so we played ring toss with some of the other WC members. I haven’t laughed that much in awhile.

Sadly, around 2 pm, it was time to clean up. Shortly after, we had a guest speaker from Wales who came to talk to us about working in Japan. Almost half of the WCJ members were interested in moving to Japan to work. I was not one of them. Still, the presentation was very interesting, especially because he chose a different work route, rather than the usual English teacher. Once the presentation was over and we said goodbye to our speaker, the WCJ staff made some final announcements before the end of the day.

My host family picked me up and took me to see their grandparents who lived right next door. Of course, I had no idea what they were saying since my knowledge of Japanese is very basic. All I understood was when they asked me if I liked cats. From there, we walked home. Otoha fell asleep on the floor, my host mom went to take the dogs for a walk and my host dad came home. I hadn’t met him yet because he was out of town, so I did today. He speaks little to no English, which is hard for me since I speak and understand about the same amount of Japanese but we were able to communicate because Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player from America, came on TV. We finished the evening with oden and a few rounds of card games before heading our separate ways for bed.

Heidi Mencl
America

Nagasaki: talks about peace and nuclear weapons

Posing in front of the peace statue
Posing in front of the peace statue

Today we went to Nagasaki where we then visited the Peace-Museum. At about 8:30 in the morning near the Omura station, we waited for everyone to arrive. Soon after, we all boarded the train to Nagasaki. The ride took about one hour but the time flew when we were talking to each other and planning what we were doing during the free time this afternoon.

At the Nagasaki Station we all got our day-passes for the tram and then proceeded in direction of the Peace-Museum. It went a little uphill until we arrived there. After a quick explanation we then entered the museum. Greeted by stones and wall pieces where we listened to the televisions showing different kinds of documentations from the day the atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki. After our little tour seeing all the sad, interesting things we then met an atomic bomb survivor who was telling us about his experience on said day.

After the speech we gave him of course a Thank you card and then left the museum. Hungry, we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch, afterwards we made our way to the peace garden by tram and then by foot. Taking a group photo in front of the “Peace-statue”. A few stairs even higher we visited an old school that had a strong history connecting it with the atomic bomb.

The afternoon came and we had our 3 hours of free time. People continued by going to the places they wanted to see and/or by shopping in the station mall. I went for small shopping tour followed by drinking something in that hot weather and then going to the Shiru Shrine with a small group.

At 18:00 free-time was over and we were all meeting again in front of the station. 20 minutes after, our train left with another hour back to Omura, where we had a quick wrap-up and then returned to our host-families.

Jean-Michel Vandervoeren
Luxembourg

The special kid finally hit the balloon with his Kyudo bow

Henry shooting with Kyudo bow in Omura
Henry shooting with Kyudo bow in Omura

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.

Henry Yang
China

Introducing the new Program Counselor for World Campus – Japan Program 2019, Yunzhi Liu

Yunzhi Liu
Yunzhi Liu

Yunzhi Liu comes from Beijing, China, and she is currently studying Classics at Middlebury College in Vermont, the US. She first became a World Campus Japan participant in 2017, and the powerful experience she had interacting with the local communities inspired her to come back and learn more. She felt belong to the program community and appreciated the great friends she was able to make. As a counselor, she will be responsible for interpretation and translation, and she hopes to help the participants enjoy and gain a great deal from the program just like she did.

Her interest in Japanese customs, history, and religion can be traced back to when she first started learning the language at the age of 12, and she is now still minoring in Japanese Studies in university. She finds a community like World Campus important to her forming understandings of the country, on account of being able to learn about Japan not only through one’s own, but other cultural lenses as well. She also likes writing, reading, watching Japanese films and anime, and playing badminton.

Introducing the new Program Counselor for World Campus – Japan Program 2019, Nena Stritzel

Nena-Stritzel
Nena-Stritzel

Nena Stritzel was born in Belgium. She studied journalism for four years and after her graduation she decided to learn Japanese and now she is a second year student Japanology at the University of Ghent. In her first year she got in contact with World Campus – Japan when Hiro Nishimura came to her University informing about the program. As soon as she heard the stories of her fellow students who went through the program, she knew she had to go too. It was her first time visiting Japan and she had the best experience ever. She believes World Campus is the best way to explore and to get to know Japan in his full glory. Definitely the experience with the different hostfamilies is something unforgetable. She is so happy that she met so many lovely new people that she got really close with. She finds it interesting to meet new people from all over the world, so she hopes to meet a lot of new people this summer and help them have the same unforgetable experience that she had in her summer. And of course that she will have a lot of fun together with them! She is looking forward to meeting you all.

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