The first stop in the 2007 World Campus -Japan tour was Ueda, Nagano. Participants and staff from around the world met each other and had no idea what to expect. But with time and experiences during the first two successful weeks, we have all become even more excited, are getting to know each other better and looking forward to the upcoming cities and adventures. Here are some highlights from our first community visit.
The Wasshoi event was a fun and energetic activity that was not only shared by the participants of World Campus International, but also by the whole community of Ueda. Wasshoi is a summer festival and the sound made while lifting heavy objects here in Japan. During this festival, people carried portable shrines called omikoshi. It was quite a sight! Those carrying these large wooden objects were having such a great time and that positive energy carried over to everyone else nearby. Some of the World Campus participants and host families even joined in on the fun by dancing with Ueda locals. It was a great experience to take part in this Japanese tradition.
With our city theme being “Educational Systems”, we had a chance to listen and talk with the Superintendent of the Board of Education for Ueda City and were also invited to visit all the schools in the Maruko district of their community. As you can imagine, the children at these schools were quite excited to take time out of their regular routine to engage with representatives from around the world!
We realized and talked about the distinct differences between the Japanese school systems and the systems in our own countries. This discussion also included special education and adult education and the efforts made to meet these needs in Japan. One issue that was highlighted and very emotional was the discussion of pressure put on students as well as “bullying”. Although the Japanese are a highly educated people with an almost 99% literacy rate, there are still challenges with overcoming the social pressures that very much contribute to one’s school experience.
Well, that’s all for now. We do want to sincerely thank all the people in Ueda city for making our stay in their city so comfortable and rewarding! Domo arigato gozaimasu.