Program Name： Japanese-Language Training Programs in Japan (High School Students)
Participant Name: Ms. Mahashweta Chakravorti
Organization Name: Bluebells School International, Delhi
Year of Participation: 2014-2015
This summer, I was privileged to be one of four students from India to have the unique opportunity to visit Japan as a part of the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Program for High School Students. Not only did the program instill in me a deeper appreciation of Japanese culture but also introduced me to new people and ideas from Japan and from around the world.
The two-week long program included a stay at the Japan Foundation’s Kansai centre, trips to Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima as well as a visit to a Japanese High School and a homestay with a Japanese family.
What struck me most about the Kansai centre was how efficiently everything was managed and how the staff’s friendliness made everyone feel at home. Our teachers were always supportive and very lively. We learnt a great deal about Japanese culture through their extremely interesting classes.
The visits to Kyoto and Nara were, in one word, spectacular. Visiting Kinkakuji, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha and travelling through the Japanese countryside truly made me realize why Japan is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. My favourite trip was the trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, a small island off Hiroshima. What made Miyajima so enchanting was not just the island’s natural beauty but a stay at a ryokan – a traditional Japanese-style inn, where we got the opportunity to try a wide variety of traditional Japanese dishes. The food was, needless to say, par excellence.
Hiroshima has to be one of the best places in Japan. It is amazing how a city with a terribly dark past can rise so bravely out of the ashes. Visiting the Genbaku dome and the Peace Museum is truly something I can never forget.
Perhaps the most interesting experience I had in Japan was the visit to Sumiyoshi High School and a homestay. Visiting Sumiyoshi felt like walking straight into an anime. The students were quick to make friends with us and we had a lovely time. My host family for the homestay was one that made me feel a part of their family in a matter of seconds. They were very kind to me and were really fun to be around with. They even took me to a kaiten-zushi and the Osaka Aquarium. My host family would definitely be on the list of some of the best people I have ever met.
Going to Japan and meeting brilliant people from not only Japan but from ten other countries was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. It is these friendships and memories that will really go a long way.
Through this program, I earned an opportunity to enhance my ability to converse in Japanese as well as build on my language skills. I learnt more about Japan and Japanese culture than I could ever learn from any book or the internet. It is how ideas such as perfection and perseverance manifest themselves in little ways in the Japanese life that have left the deepest impression on me. I am definitely looking forward to visiting Japan again.