Here it is, the final day of World Campus Japan 2016. It has been quite a ride. When I first came here on the 4th of June I didn’t expect it to have been so much fun, or the goodbyes to be so hard. As one of the counselors I stayed for all three sessions of the program, meaning that I had had my share of teary goodbyes and promises to meet again in the future. Now, doing it for the third time I consider myself lucky. I’ve met tons of amazing people, stayed in many great host-families and made lots of new friends.
Admittedly, a part of me is wondering; why do all the good things have to come to an end? But another part of me, the optimistic one, looks back to this summer as an experience that I will remember ‘till the day I die. That part of me also sees ahead. It sees the bright future I, and I’m sure every last one of us, is heading for. And we won’t be going there alone, no, we are on our way together. As Hiro said, once a World Campus member, always a World Campus member. I have more friends from more diverse places around the world than I’ve ever had before. I have ten families now. And although the distances are great, our homestays are over and we won’t be having scheduled activities with the entire group any longer, I hope that I can see everyone again someday.
And so, we prepare for the final Arigato Event of the year. We dance and sing. We dine with our host families, cramped in a small room enjoying the delicious pot luck goodness. And we cry and hug and say our goodbyes. This is not the end. This is just the beginning.
On the last activity day of World Campus – Japan program 2016 we visit a shrine which also works as primary school. We learn how to make spins tops with the children and later on learn Shakyo and Karate in the shrine.
Allision, Paul and Josh talks about their experience from the day.
Today we spent the day at Ryusenji temple, a temple with a 1500-year history. The temple also runs a kindergarten inside the grounds, and we spent the morning making origami with the children.
In the afternoon, we had two cultural experiences. First we did shakyo, a variant of Zen meditation based on copying Buddhist sutra. The idea is that by focusing only on writing, one can eliminate unnecessary thoughts. Also, it is common to offer the finished copy at the temple altar. Afterwards we got an introduction to the basics of karate and learned a simple form.
World Campus – Japan has been coming to this temple for a few years now, and the children were looking forward to seeing us. Personally, I always find interactions with children rewarding. If we can give them a good impression, they might want to go out into the world themselves when they get older. I think this is the best contribution we can give to the communities we visit.
Today we were able to try our hand at many different activities, like Naginata, Wadaiko, and Shodo.
One of my most favorite moments of today was trying the Naginata, which is one of the old forms of Japanese martial arts, similar to Kendo. We used long sword-like sticks made of oak and bamboo to hit places like the head and shin. I had never tried martial arts in general, so this was a new and exciting experience for me.
It was fun seeing people give it their all when doing Naginata and playing the Wadaiko, our next activity. Everyone was having fun with smiles on their faces, and I especially learned a lot during the special Q&A session we had with the Naginata instructors.
We were able to watch a Wadaiko performance, which was very intriguing. They performed 3 festival songs, and even included 3 elementary school kids in their performance. The little kids were so talented and were able to keep up with the strong adults too!
Near the end of the day, the Shodo Club from Chuo Gakuin University came to perform for us! Using bright colors, they wrote the lyrics to one of the songs that they played during their performance on a large piece of calligraphy paper that almost filled half of the room.
Later, we were able to experience calligraphy ourselves with kanji and hiragana. The girl that was helping was so funny encouraging us every step of the way. (Shout out to the wonderful Misaki-chan)
Today was a wonderful, experience-filled day. It didn’t matter if they were good at it or not, everyone had a great time trying new things out of their comfort zone.