Study Abroad Is An Exchange Of Cultures And Histories

 In Study Abroad 101

Here is a story that is interesting because it tells something about the true value and mission of study abroad and the Study Abroad student exchange programs.  This is story of an exchange student who took his opportunity to find connection between cultures and to represent his nation in a meaningful way very seriously

A student of the University of Tokyo, 20 year old Yoshihiko Kichikawa, was accepted to spend a year in Illinois as an exchange student. Before he left Japan, he decided that just having skills in English would not be enough preparation for this adventure.  He also thought it was important that he be a good representative for his country, Japan.  When he considered what would be the most favourable attributes he could demonstrate in his host country, he decided on the characteristics of: a spirit of adventure, a sound general knowledge, and genuine curiosity about others and other cultures.  He formed a study group to explore all these ideas while he was still in Japan. This has become known as the Japanese International Student Society

The mission of the Society was to explore significant historical and current events, societal problems and issues which linked Japan to the rest of the world, and to become informed about such issues – which are very rarely discussed in the classroom, and if so, not in any depth..

Five members of the Japanese International Student Society stayed in the Fukushima Prefecture.  The reason for their visit was to go to the now deserted village of Iitate where residents fled in March 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear crisis occurred. The students also visited a Buddhist monk in one of the towns of Fukushima. The monk collects radiation- tainted soil and temporarily stores it at the Joenji Temple. The students also visited the port towns that were hit with the tsunami to meet with many of the volunteers who continue to devote energy and time to those that have been affected by the nuclear meltdown and the tsunami’s after effects.

So, from a small idea based on one student’s acceptance for an exchange program, overseas and his desire to really share valuable information and experience, the Japanese International Student Society was born.  The Society, which previously consisted of 20 students, now has programs for all Japanese students planning to go abroad on exchange programs. The idea of the group is to help students deeply understand their own country first so they can enlighten those in another country about the impacts of how certain things can affect those around them. They also wanted to be prepared to answer any questions which may be asked by fellow students in their new school.

Starting an international student society in your home country can be beneficial for those about to study abroad. It helps to you recognise how your country has grown and overcome situations before you witness new cultures.



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