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Exchange Students


My Precious Days in Japan Since March to July 2021, and December 2021

March - July 2021


Thembo, an former exchange from Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences to TUFS between Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, sent us his essay about the latter half of his stay in Japan. It took long because he was busy with his studying and dissertation at PIASS, and moreover, he wanted to take time to recall all of his precious memories in Japan to write essays. His essays are so lively that you can experience what he has by reading them!

Here, we introduce an essay to show his gratitude for those who helped him in any way and look back his stay in Japan in general, as well as the summaries of each essay in which he looked back each event. You can read the full texts by cliking each essay title.

You can read his essay about the first half of his stay from here.

Final Essay About my Stay in Japan

Greetings from Rwanda (Africa), I hope you are all doing better in these challenging days of the pandemic. I'm writing to inform you about how my exchange program at TUFS from November 2020 to July 2021 ended and how I'm currently doing after my exchange program.

First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude and endless thanks to whoever directly or indirectly supported me during my stay in Japan. Importantly, I would like to thank all the members of the crowdfunding group who catered for my flight to and from Japan and some other living expenses while in Japan. I really wished to meet with some of them in person but unfortunately, I met none as Covid-19 hampered physical interactions. In the same sense, I would like to extend my thanks to Africa Studies Center-TUFS and the Inter-University Exchange Project (Africa), TUFS for their endless support and willingness to support me whenever I needed their help. I can't forget to thank my Japanese language professor Nanae Sakuta sensei who accepted to teach me Japanese alone in the class, the little Japanese I speak is because of her support. To all of my professors, students, friends and former exchange students at TUFS and outside of TUFS, thanks for your kind support, you made my stay in Japan so memorable and educative. I hope we can meet in the future once more.


Back to my academic and social life in Japan. I started my exchange program at TUFS in the fall semester in November 2020, this was the most challenging semester for me as I started it while online in Rwanda with 7 hours time difference. I was scared I would not make it to Japan as the pandemic was too much those days. Fortunately, I managed to come to Japan and continued the fall semester online. I took 8 courses in this semester, 2 courses in winter intensive, and 11 courses in the spring semester. At the end of the program, I had taken 21 courses related to Japanese culture, language, history, politics, economy and development as that was my objective. Honestly, I felt a bit sad when I attended most of my classes online. I wanted to experience real campus life in Japan without restrictions. However, I was lucky that I was always invited to attend some tours physically or online and with the support of many other people, my stay in Japan was very wonderful. With an exception of the covid-19 pandemic, I faced no other challenges.

Currently, I resumed my studies at my home university in Rwanda and working on my graduation thesis. After my graduation, I'm planning to apply and come back to Japan for my master's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at TUFS or Hiroshima City University. I have formed a project that helps Japanese students who are researching African countries to easily access information. This project also helps the Japanese exchange students at my home university to get used to the African lifestyle. I also help Japanese universities or high schools to organize online tours with African students in order to learn from each other. My project has already helped a master's student from Chuo University, three students from TUFS, one Ikubunkan Global High School student, a group of MPJ Youth members in organizing an online tour with Makerere University students, Uganda, one student from Yokohama City University, three Japanese students at my home university. Once I get enough support in the future, I'm planning to organize and develop this project into an academic foundation or platform that support intercultural and academic activities between Japanese students and African students.

Sincerely, I already miss Japan too much, especially my friends, and participating in different activities in which I always learnt new things. I miss the Japanese food too, it's not easy to get it here in Africa. Japan was very amazing for me as each day was like learning something different especially about cultures. Currently, my second name at my home university is "Japanese boy" since I like giving examples from Japan.

Internship at Munakata Foundation

I was having difficulties to find a place to do my internship in Japan, but with the help of Dr. Kazuyuki Sasaki, a Japanese professor at PIASS, Munakata Foundation accepted me and Henri as interns. I chose the protection of the LGBTQ+ community during the pandemic as my research topic, taking a case study of Uganda. I interviewd several people of the the LGBTQ+ communities in Uganda to collect the information.

Attending the MPJ Youth Camp

I attended the event organized by MPJ Youth, a group of Japanese students from different universities who are interested in African affairs and promoting Africa in Japan between March 14 and 18, 2021. On the 1st day, we had a kick-off meeting in Shinjuku and introduced ourselves. Later, we had an online seminar with PIASS Peace Club. On the 2nd day, after playing some Japanese traditional games and discussed Africa, we devided ourselves into two groups. The members were so friendly that we became froends very soon. Then, we shared about Japanese and Agfrican cultures with PIASS Peace Club online. On the 3rd day, since their seminar was conducted in Japanese, I visited the United Nations University in Shibuya to meet my Japanese friend. On the 4th day, an online lecture by His Excellency Dr. Charles Murigande, we had an online seminar by the former Rwandan ambassador to Japan and learnt about the history of Rwandan educational system and its current situation. After the seminar, I visited Tokyo Sky Tree and Asakusa with my group members. On March 18, the last day, I visited the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno with another group members in the morning, and we attended an online lecture with a high school in Rwanda. This tour exposed me to a lot of new things through interactions, and some of the MPJ members became my close friends. In March 2022, I will be helping them to organize another tour with Ugandan university students.

Reunion with the Ikubunkan Global High School students at TUFS

The students of Africa Seminar at Ikubunkan Global High School visited TUFS to meet Thembo and Henri. They gave presentations on thier own countries' cultures which drew their attentions to understand more about each other's cultures.

Visiting Ikubunkan Global High School and bidding farewell

Fabrice and I visited Ikubunkan Global High School as we promised. As soon as welcoming us excitedly, the students showed us around their campus which surprised me to see a bit small but very organized with almost all the required necessities for students. After that, the students presented about the Japanese culture, especially food. Then, I asked them to form two groups: one for those who have been to Africa and another for thouse who have never been to Africa. At last, I presented them my project which aims at helping Japanese students who are interested in Africa to get information and connecting them to different African students to help them in their research. I have already organized an online tour for Japanese students from different school to connect with students of Makerere University and PIASS.

Presentation at Kanazawa Izumigaoka Senior High School

Invited by the High School - University Collaboration Support Division at TUFS, I participated in the online seminar with Kanazawa Izumigaoka Senior High School. The students were divided into four groups, and each group gave presentations on different topics, such as the use of coloured solar panels and a happy life for oversea students. After the presentations, I, including other international students of TUFS, interacted with the students and gave advisory comments. It was so interesting to see how young high school students research a global problem and come up with a possible solution.

Online Presentation at Yokohama City University

Asked by Mana sensei, the chairperson of Munakata Foundation, I made a presentation about the sexual minority in Uganda for students at Yokohama City University. After the 15-minute presentation, I answerd questions from the students with Mana sensei's help who summarised my presentation in Japanese and translated their questions. I could see how the situation of the sexual minorities in Uganda was a completely new experience for them, and I am still in touch with some of them.

My favourite visited places

I paid a visit to the shirine that is dedicated to the devine souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, which is now known as the Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine-Tokyo. I also went to hiking Mount Takao, a mountain in the city of Hachiōji where I learnt about tengu, minor kami from Japanese folklore, and Shugendō, the mountain asceticism focusing on strict discipline.

Shooting a music video for "Study in Japan for Africa"

I was invited to participate in the video shooting to promote students from Sub-Saharan Africa to come and study in Japan. I accepted to participate in this video since I was also passionate about fostering knowledge sharing between Japanese and African students. I shot my part coming from the dorm, reading in the library, and boxing in the gymnasium. After reaching back in Africa, I have always shown this video to different students whenever I'm invited to talk about my experiences.

Taking my Japanese friend to my home country, Uganda

I became close with Rei, a Japanese student of TUFS, while staying in Japan, and he came to PIASS to study as an exchange student for a year in September. Since he was interested in traveling countries neighbouring Rwanda, we planned to visit Uganda, my home country during the Christmas holidays. We arrived at Kampala on December 20, 2021, where we visited Lake Victoria, River Nile, etc. Then, we moved to Kasese, my home district by overnight bus, where we stayed at my brother's house and visited the famous equator line, Queen Elizabeth National Park etc. After Rei and I celebrated Christmas with my brother's family, I took Rei to my village in Kisinga where my parents live. After staying for a week in Uganda, Rei returned to PIASS to spend his New Year's holidays with his friends at PIASS. In the future, I hope I can visit Rei's family in Japan too