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Comprehensive Report on JENESYS 2.

0 Batch 9
Traditional History and Heritage/Traditional Culture/Contemporary Culture/Arts

May 26 - June 3, 2014
Japan


___________________
Samuel P. Fernandez Jr.


I. Program Background
As far as I can remember, I have been interested in Japan. It started with watching
anime to the cultural aspects shown in these shows I have been watching. Come high
school, I attended my first formal nihongo class. This extended throughout my college life by
applying for and being active in the organization I am affiliated with, UP Tomo-Kai. The
organization opened up many opportunities for me to experience the culture of Japan such
as teaching me traditional Japanese dances, giving me the chance to interact with Japanese
exchange students of the university and further teaching me nihongo. I took that to a higher
level by formally taking university classes for basic nihongo and passing the JLPT N5.

I was first introduced to the programme by my friend, a previous delegate in one of the
first Jenesys batches. He shared to me his experiences and it just clicked with me. I applied
as soon as applications for the next were opened. Though I was not accepted that time, I
was challenged to do better and have a better CV by the next time I applied. Three years
later, I got a chance to apply again not only because the age bracket was moved up, but
because the academic calendar shift allowed me to. And I was fortunate enough to get in
after passing all requirements and attending the required activities.

II. Highlights of the Program
The start of the official Jenesys activities was the workshop where we were really
exposed to the different people we were to live and work with for the next 11 days. There
was also a quote that made my trip more enjoyable. Take the plunge. This sort of clich
iced tea tag line actually worked wonders when entering an environment far from my
comfort zone. Just getting myself out there and diving in to the activities made the whole
experience more fulfilling for me and my new found friends. Next up was the PDOS, in which
we were oriented what to expect throughout the programme. We were taught what to
prepare for and what to do if some situation arises.
The day of departure from the Philippines came so fast and the day was filled with
excitement and joy. Upon landing in Narita Airport, we witnessed first a glimpse of the
Japanese city skyline at night. The Edo-Tokyo Museum visit the next day gave us a glimpse
of a time-lapse of Japan from its Samurai rule to the current modern Japan we know today.
The next day, we visited the Meiji-Jingu Shrine, a well-protected and preserved shrine that
sits amazingly near Harajuku, one of the centers of fashion and pop culture in Japan. It is
amazing to see these two seemingly opposing venues co-exist near each other in harmony.
After which, we rode the Tokyo skytree train, a special train chartered for the delegates
traveling to Fukushima. Here we saw the transition from urban city skyscrapers to lush
forests and we were introduced to the kind of environment we will be living in for half of
our stay in Japan.
One thing I can say about Minami-aizu, Fukushima is that the surroundings are just so
picturesque. Everywhere nature is thriving, protected and existing peacefully even though
people are living in the area. Meeting the Mayor of the town, Mr. Sokichi Ohya was an
honour and an experience where we felt one of the responsibilities being a delegate, he
appointed us as tourism ambassadors for the town. We visited Ouchi-Juku and the Tsuruga-
jo castle. Both venues provided us a glimpse of feudal Japan and learn ancient technologies
developed by the people then. It is really amazing that the technologies then such as
weaponry, construction techniques and culture, like the akabeko, is still visible and present
in these areas. In-between visiting these two areas, we went to eat at a kaiten-zushi, a
culinary experience unique to Japanese sushi cuisine. Getting back to the hotel, we tried
another cultural experience, the public bath.
Next day we tried our hand at planting rice. It was hard but also fulfilling. It gave us the
glimpse of the hard work put into providing the people grain to eat. After which, we
experienced the school exchange with Minami-Aizu High School. At first there was a big
cultural difference between the delegates and the local students but in the end everyone
was able to become friends and be happy together. Meeting the Host Families was the next
activity in line. My host parents were nothing short of hospitable, kind and though at the
start we felt like guests still in the house, after the cooking lesson in the mountains though I
already felt a strong bond with okaasan and experienced the ittekimasu-itterasshai and
tadaima-okaerinasai culture of Japan that was something family-like that I experienced. The
last dinner and breakfast okaasan served us was very healthy and I was just really happy
that in the end, okaasan told us that we staying at her place made her very happy.
Then there started out project planning, an endeavour in which everyone saw that we
learned a lot in our short stay in Japan. Seeing the responsibilities put upon us, we
concocted different projects and eventually chose one the night before we went back to
Tokyo. The travel to Tokyo was a short one thanks to the shinkansen, and it was another
amazing thing to experience something so high-tech in an area that is surrounded by
mountains and forests. Arriving in Tokyo, we met up with the rest of the delegation and
proposed our project. The next day, we left for the Philippines, albeit sad that the trip was
over, but fulfilled and challenged for the things we brought back with us. Our pasalubongs,
our stories, our experiences, the friendship that we shared, and a stronger love and
understanding of the Land of the Rising Sun.


III. Observation and Learning
Punctuality is a big thing for Japanese, not because they value their own time but to
consider others and the troubles they may cause being late. This shows that the Japanese
are more concerned of others, rather than the robotic Japanese stereotype drawn by
todays media. Another evidence of this trait is that they clean up after themselves after
using a venue. This is obvious as time and time again we were reminded to clean up after
ourselves and the surroundings, even in Tokyo, was very clean. It was also amazing to
observe the walking/biking culture in Tokyo. The public was not dependent on private
transport to go from point A to point B. The harmony of high-tech popular culture and
traditional culture is also a sight to see as they really do coexist. We also learned that Tokyo
is not a representative of Japan. To know about the country, one needs to expand his or her
journey to the rural areas to experience Japan.

IV. Program Management Evaluation

a. JICEs Program Implementation
The programme was followed to the dot and was very efficient. Though there was a
slight problem in the kaiten-zushi where we were not able to enjoy the meal since we were
given only 30 minutes to eat. Other than that, the programme was very accommodating for
every delegate.

b. NCCAs Selection Process & Pre-Departure Activities & Coordination
Selection process was okay and the delegates chosen were very worthy of the
opportunity of being a youth delegate. The interview enabled us to learn other ways to
answer the questions, being a panel interview. There were a lot of delegates that answered
different from me, and the way they answer is a new perspective for me. The PDOS and
Workshop before departure were really a big help for us delegates to break the barriers
between the delegates.

c. Management of Delegation by the Philippine Adult Supervisors
Hands down, Sir Ferdie and Maam Vicky are really great supervisors. They have the
right mix of being strict and being accommodating to our requests. They treat us as adults
and because of that, a higher sense of responsibility is cultivated. But for the other groups
supervisor, I would like to note that there was one incident that a supervisor was late for
about 30 minutes after visiting Harajuku. Though the reasons are not clear, it was a
harrowing experience for us being bus mates with them.

d. Level of Participation of Co-Delegates
My co-delegates, especially the green team is a really well knit group that is ready
for anything. I would say that we were one of the most active teams, though also one of the
noisiest. I am also proud to say that despite the nicks here and there, generally the whole
group performed well and is very punctual. Some groups on the other hand were not.
V. Concerns & Recommendations
Concerns and recommendations were addressed in the previous sections. There are
no other concerns as of now.