In order to celebrate one year of the recovery after the earthquake and tsunami on 11/03/2011, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) organized a program for international students called "JAPAN STUDY PROGRAM 2012" (JSP), from 07 March to 19 March. Through Japan Alumni of Vietnam (JAV), the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam selected 10 students representing universities in Vietnam to attend this exchange program: National University of Hanoi, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Hue University, Da Nang University, Can Tho University and Thai Nguyen University. I – Tran Thi Lan Huong – a student of the advanced education program (AEP) represented Thai Nguyen University in general and Thai Nguyen university of Agriculture and Forestry in particular.
JSP students before one memorial minute when tsunami struck Japan
The first memorable moment of mine is one minute to pray for victims of dual disaster- earthquake and tsunami on 11/3/2011 in Tokyo National Museum. At 2.45pm - one minute before the moment the tsunami struck Japan one year ago, we - 220 students representing for 42 countries around the world, stayed there at the significant moment. The air was silent, we were hand in hand, and prayed for victims. For me, it's hard to describe that feeling. It is the honor and great emotion.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there was great misleading information from media being speared around the international students. The basic objective of program was to help international students to correctly understand the current situation of Japan through various activities in the Tokyo metropolis and the Tohoku region. Specifically, they would like to introduce to international students about Japanese education system, the resolute consequences, the coordination among Japanese universities for disaster areas and the help for international students get acquainted with Japanese universities. Thus, the students who participated in the program will become nuclear propaganda for the Japanese education when they return to their country.
Welcome reception in JSP 2012 with international students
The program consists of two phases with the main contents: the seminars on natural disasters, the reconstruction efforts of the Japanese people, opportunities to study abroad, long-term working in Japan. Moreover, I visited many places and experienced Japanese culture and society, exchanged with Japanese universities, made friends around the world who participate in the program.
In part 1 of the program, I experienced the life of Tokyo – an ultra-modern city, enjoyed the advanced technologies such as trams, train, subway; the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) where I met Asimo robot, JAXA Space Center, Tokyo Sky Tree - the highest TV tower in the world, Akiba Square - the center of Anime - Manga production. Otherwise, I saw Kabuki, a traditional art form of Japan, at the national theater and ate the traditional cuisine such as tempura, bento, ramen…
We can see that Japan has developed infrastructure, science and technology, but Japan still keeps the beauty of tradition. It is very significant and impressive. All of them are clear evidences for the prosperity of science and technology of Japan
The center of Anime – Manga production JAXA Space Center
For me - a sophomore student, the opportunity to visit some famous universities such as Waseda University in Tokyo, National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies is a meaning experience. Furthermore, I met and exchanged with students there about learning .
Workshop on the topic of international education at Waseda University
In part 2, all students were divided into three groups to visit areas affected by the disaster including Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate. I followed Miyagi group. I stayed in Sendai city. In there, I had the opportunity to exchange with a famous University – Tohoku University, visited the Matsushima Bay - one of the most beautiful Bays in Japan. I wore Kimono, learned origami and calligraphy in Sendai international center. It was really fun experience in Japan.
Kimono in Sendai international center
At last, I visited Oganawa - Sendai city - the area was worst affected by the tsunami. In my imagination before visiting Tohoku , this region was severely hit by the earthquake. Everything was in the bad condition from buildings to roads, schools were damaged,. This is because of what has been projected by the media we have access to. But after visiting Oganawa, there are different pictures. Although there are still debris to be cleared and we even saw crushed boats but many things have changed now. People’s life has become normal, they are going to the offices regularly, schools are open, and infrastructures are being made quickly in the devastated areas. Special homes are being made for elderly people who lost their homes in this earthquake, special care is being given to elderly people and children so that they can be psychologically stable. Government is giving supports to farmers to help them start their work again.
When our group arrived, the tour guide required us not to take pictures, videos and do not ask the victims any problems related to disasters. We should only use eyes contact and make the smiles to share with them. I understood that it is tribute, empathy and sharing. Surely, none of us want others to recall a traumatic past - the past that even the people you love the most was gone. Have to come here, have to be a witness and feel by your heart, you will understand how much the Japanese have suffered and their efforts are enormous under the impact of natural disasters occur frequently there. I was really touched by these images.
Pray for victims at Onagawa - the area was worst affected by the tsunami.
During the program, I was always satisfied about hospitality of Japanese with foreigners. They always take care others first. From the first day we arrived, when we were finding the way to the bookstore, an old man gave us direction and led us to the place that we had to go, and it was a big surprise for me. The people are also very honest. The evidence is when we stay at the hotel in Sendai, forgotten items from the smallest items such as towels, cream... to the things that have high value such as money, jewelry... Everything was sent back free for us by the bus when we returned to Tokyo.
Until the last day when we left, I still remember when JSP members came to airport to say goodbye to us, all of us were touched, many people felt cry, I was not an exception. No one wanted to leave, the handshakes, the warming hugs, the kisses and the wishes for Godspeed were expressed in moments, promising each other that we would return to this place at the earliest date. Although it was not a long time, it was still enough for us to have deep memories. I will forever keep beautiful sentiments in my heart.
Report session in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT)
The most thing of the trip I was pleased is to expand the understanding, the living environment, work and study in an advanced country. That is motivate to help we try to learn, practice attitude of study of professional work and responsibility.
If I am asked that what I have learned from the Japanese in 2 weeks? What I want to answer is sense of time value, responsibility, living in danger. Especially the bowing culture of Japanese really touched my heart.
We know that, Japan is poor in mineral resources, people always have to live with earthquakes, volcanoes; so why this country has been always maintaining its No. 2 economy in the world? The thing which all the other countries need to learn that is how the Japanese view of history: "learning from history to have a better future, not only to be proud"
Fukuzawa Yukichi - A Japanese politician wrote: “The God doesn't bear the people who stand above the others. The God doesn't bear the people who stand under the others. All exist, because of learning”
Surely you have heard or read this sentence on somewhere. Please keep in mind and carefully ponder the meaning of it. Everyone has different definitions for their future. Everyone can make their dreams in many different ways. Write up your dreams, share your dreams and aspirations with others are something that not everyone can do. Some people, for fear the others will laugh at their dreams, so they keep secret. Therefore, they do not have the courage and determination to do it. But the others dare any difficulty, so they achieve success. For me, my dream is abroad. If I have any opportunities, I want to apply the scholarship to study in Japan which has created incentives to do my dream. I really want to be there again. I think that studying in a developing country will help me contribute my small part for my university and Vietnam.
Above are my experiences of the JSP program in 2012. I sincerely thank my teachers who have taught me to have useful knowledge, in order to attend and accomplish this interesting program
Tran Thi Lan Huong