Jato's diary (April - August 2022)
After arriving in Japan and spending some few days, on Monday 11th April, Paul and I wanted to visit a place we used to see online called Akihabara, which is far from TUFS and we had to take a ride on the bicycle which we started at about 12 noon and got the place by 3:30 Pm and we had to move around and could not locate a place we saw online when trying to check our screen shot of the google map we had at home because we could only have connection in the room. A woman of close to 70s came to us and asked "are you guys looking for something?" We said yes. She then gave the direction the place. It was a surprise to me because most of the Japanese only mind their business. I was really impressed by her assistance. Then when coming back we missed our way around the Tokyo station we had to ask some guys to show us the way leading to where we came from and we spent more than one hour at that spot since we had no mobile data. When it was around 10pm we mat a young man, who could share his mobile for us to use google map to find our home. And finally, it was the police who had to lead us home that day where we got home at 3am.
Having the opportunity to attend this exchange program at TUFS has been a great learning process for me, where I have to meet with people from different countries with different cultural background. Since from day one, we had a warm welcome from the airport which made me feel at home.
Then on the 15th April 2022 one our good friend Miyata Hidetora took us out for a dinner and we had some Japanese food and drinks. We had a great chat with him about life in Japan and we shared with him about life in PIASS and Rwanda since he will be going for the exchange program. He was interested to know about the school program of PIASS.
For the spring most of my courses were online due to the covid 19, I had a lot of fun during the class interaction, group work, shooting a movie with some of the classmates. Also, I gained a lot of experience as well in the aspect of time management, respect of rules. Some of the courses I took included Pan Africanism and African Unity, History of dissent and social protest in Japan, History of dissent and social protest in Japan, Understanding Cross cultural Issues of Collective Memory, The United Nations: Organization and implementation of SDGs; Theory and Practice of the UN; Theory and Practice on International, Collective memories of Jewish people in films and texts; Film Analysis, Japanese Language class, Career Designing, International law; Introduction to Women and Gender Studies.
On the 20th April we went to mount Takao for Hiking which was organize by Brandon, a PHD student from South Africa. The other students were from South Sudan, DRC, Cameroon and Namibia. The aim was to free our minds from the busy school program, exercise ourselves by walking to the mountain top and getting the fresh air from the mount. From the top of the mountain, one could have a good view of the Tokyo city though it was not really clear due to the weather of that day.
One thing which caught my attention was the forest which changed my thinking about Tokyo where I used to think it is only made up of tall buildings.
Also, the shrines at the mount were interesting to me how the Japanese pay much attention to their traditional religion. This made me start thinking of why they have many shrines and temples more than the convenience stores. The Japanese people like to have a close relation with their death ones.
May 1st, I visited a famous place with friends at Asakusa the Sensoji temple where people visit to prayer for the good luck in what so ever there are doing like in studies, to have a good job. Thousands of place visit to make a wish for themselves or their families. I got a fortune which says "Even if you fail to keep up with others on your life`s journey, do not fail to tread onward on your rightful path". This has encouraged me to keep working hard and never give up or feel discourage what others say about me. I visited the Tokyo Sky Tree which is the tallest tower in Japan and had a better view of Tokyo from the 350m height.
On the 7th May, we had a reunion meeting with two former exchange Students to PIASS and had great interactions of how they have been after leaving Rwanda Africa. They both shared how their miss Africa. We also, shared with them our lives in Japan so far. Moreover, we had a joined activity together at a ceramic art shop we had to produce our master art by ourselves with the help of the owner of the ceramic art. One thing I found interesting was that many old people come to learn and do the art. They main interest is to perseveres the Japanese culture for the future generation to learn from what they society used to depend on. This also shows to me that as we get into then no matter the advancement of technology we should keep culture because it shows who we are.
15th May we were invited by those majoring in African studies for their orientation at Tama Zoological park with Prof Oishi and Prof. Sakai. At the zoo we had the chance to see some animals from Africa like the elephant, cheater, just a few. Most of the students were curious to know about the animals which are found in Africa as well as which African countries can they visit. During this learning process at the zoo, shared with about Africa. The most interesting thing is that when I asked them why are there interested in studying about Africa, some response were; I want to change the media narratives about, where Africa is only seen as a place of conflict or diseases, some want to work with women empowerment and the girl child education, to share the store of Africa to the Japanese people because many people in Japan have little or no idea about Africa, want to work and leave in Africa. All this made me to understand that Africans need to tell her story to the world and not to wait for the world they say want they want about Africa.
On the 11th June 2022, we had dinner with the first PIASS exchange student to TUFS who are currently doing their Master's program. They shared with us their experiences being the first exchange students with the challenges their hand and how their try to overcome them. Moreover, discuss on how we can be of help to the future students coming to pre-prepare them of how some things are done. Also, where you can ask for assistance when need be. Moreover, we talked of making a documentary about our lives in Japan.
I had a Peace Exchange on June 12. This event is being organized by a team of about 15 youth Japanese peace leaders working with Peace and Cultural Village (PCV) in Hiroshima. After 2 years of limited contact with people from other countries due to Covid-19, they wanted to create an online space to practice talking about Hiroshima in English, and to get to know like-minded youth from around the world. In addition to PCV's youth members, 12 non-Japanese guests. During the first half of the program, PCV youth members will give a virtual Hiroshima experience in English.
I had the opportunity to share my experience working for peace and how youths can network for peace building and development. Moreover, the youths from Hiroshima shared their experiences while working with PCV and that the youths need to be involve in peace building activities in other to make our society great again. The goal of this program is to foster community and connections between global citizens who want to make a positive social impact.
The world needs more humanity and peace. Peace and harmony can bring a peaceful and stable order to society, and they are a necessary condition for the survival and development of mankind. A world deprived of peace and harmony certainly will fall apart and return to the jungle era in which the strong prey on the weak. Besides, learn more about what it is to be a global citizen and how our countries can learn from each other, then share those concepts with others so we can live more fulfilled, peace centered lives. It also helped me engaged with people of different cultural backgrounds, different philosophies and different points of view. I want to make a connection with people that are interested in peace. It increased my knowledge and the learning about the histories of Hibakusha and other peace activists. We had youths from; Cameroon, India, Sri Lanka, USA, Mexico, Panama, Myanmar, Argentina, Indonesia.
Feel Africa (7 June - 6 July)
I took part in the "Feel Africa" Exhibition, where African studies at TUFS show their photos of historic moment in Africa. We had student from Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, Burundi, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, DRC, Rwanda, Sierra Leone. During this event I had chances to talk to other students from different parts of the world about Cameroon and Africa, about culture, religion, politics, life style as well as my home University PIASS in Rwanda, and about the school programs. Many got interested and want to visit as well due to the cultural diversity of PIASS. The event made many students know more about Africa and develop interest to visit all thanks to the African Study Center for support, planning, organization.
My photo exhibition was about;
1) Cultural life: Cameroon is a country of diversity of culture with its about 250 ethnic groups with different cultures and traditions. With all the diversity they have a melting point with the culture and traditions during cultural festival with their various out fits.
2) Mining in Cameroon: Cameroon is an African country which is rich in natural recourses as well as minerals of different types. Some of the minerals are mine legally and illegally, both local by the and modern methods are used. The local method is used by the local population while the modern is by companies.
3) Local Market in Cameroon: markets in the villages have specific days of the week that the market hold, while markets are open every day in the city. Most of the markets are in the open air and not in the shopping mall. The food sold are fresh directly from the farms.
4) Ubuntu: It translated as "I am because we are" (also "I am because you are"), or "humanity towards others". The spirit of Ubuntu from the Zulu in South Africa and this is what has been uniting Africa together making them stronger with the community oneness. It is a way of life.
5) School life: the final year class in the primary school has different activities like sports, cultural activities, hand work, field works depending on the school. Most of the examination classes carry out practical work.
On the 4th July, was the closing of the event "Feel Africa" with message through arts and music which was open to the public at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. It comprises of singing of Senegalese song "Mommy", Ghanaian Folk song "Senyiwa" and a Swahili song "Baba Yetu". Some of the Japanese students who are interested in Africa joined us in the practice and the performance of this songs on the closing of the event.
On the 12 July I had the opportunity to visit Josui SHS at Gotemba with some friends from different African countries to share about my country and Africa. We talked about intercultural understanding or diversity experience. It was a reflection on what are some of the challenges foreigners can face in Japan and what possible solutions can given. with this reflect the students were encouraged to use English language which is one of the global language since the world now is a global village.
25th August intercultural exchange with the grade 10 and 12 students from Ikubunkan school. The grade 10 students made presentations about Japanese culture on the Kimono and Yukata.