If there’s one thing to improve in the program, it is to extend the TIME. It seems there’s not enough time to visit all of Japan’s beautiful places and meet more of its beautiful people – from which and whom we can learn Japan’s culture and values.
I have many friends who have been exchange students. Every time I hear about their experiences, I would feel jealous. I want to be like them very badly. My lack of self-confidence hindered me from actually applying for an exchange program, and I felt that I missed a lot of opportunities.
It was only this year that I finally had the chance to apply. I am very thankful until now that one of my friends shared the announcement regarding JENESYS Batch 9 on Facebook. Excitement came over me as I read it. I thought that perhaps it was the perfect time that I try my luck. I applied partly because of curiosity and interest to go to Japan, visit its beautiful places, and meet its people but more importantly, my main goal was really to challenge myself. The ambitious guy in me wanted to grow and learn new things, that is why despite my lack of confidence in getting accepted, I went for it. I wanted to see how my application would turn out in the end. While I had this expectation that I might not be accepted, I had high hopes that somehow my qualification would make the cut. And luckily, it did.
Indeed, being able to step foot on Japan, a country known for its advanced technology and progressive economy, was a blessing. I am very thankful because aside from having met amazing people, throughout our stay there, we were able to visit different places and experience Japan’s culture. We visited two temples: one in Narita and another in Fukuoka. We listened to lectures about the history and culture of Japan by Dr. Hideo Kimura; about Japan’s Waste Management system; hydrogen for fuel at Hibiki LNG; and seaweed making. We also had a workshop on Japan’s cultural art, Kyogen, which for me, was so exciting considering I am not into Arts. At Yanagawa City, we river-cruised and met some locals . We also had a courtesy call with the kindest and most down-to-earth mayor of Yanagawa City who personally handed us souvenirs and even escorted us to the parking area when we left the place.
There is a lot to learn in Japan. From the Japanese people, we can learn the value of discipline. Wherever you go in Japan, you can see that the streets are very clean. In fact, in Ooki town in Fukuoka, they categorize their garbage into 25 classes and the residents are disciplined enough to follow such categorization. Another observation I have of the Japanese people is their punctuality. I do not think you would ever see them come late to a meeting. Either they are on time or they come earlier than scheduled. They consider time very important that in conducting programs, for instance, they make sure that the time allotted for each speaker is utilized accordingly and that the programs finish on time. The Japanese people are also innovative in relation to the preservation of their natural resources. In fact, they have been researching on hydrogen as a substitute to gasoline oil for the cars. And they are using it now. We rode on a hydrogen-fueled car and the experience was good.
My JENESYS journey was truly an experience to cherish, no doubt. All thanks to my amazing co-participants who are easy to get along with. Surely, my being a Muslim and the only delegate from Mindanao never became a hindrance for us to learn together.
In my application essay, I said that as a Muslim student, “I will strive to provide a different perspective and view on the current issues that we have and as much as possible, on global issues, in a way that is not only relevant to my culture and community but stands in harmony with the ASEAN society as a whole”. I am glad that JENESYS, proved to be a “definite and valuable way for me to start the challenge”. Now, I am more than ready to share my view on various matters that concerns not only me but my community as well.
Written by: Salem Barrat