On December 1, at a community center in Chiyoda, Tokyo, the reporting session of Yap-Japan cultural exchange program was held. Among nine participants of the program, excluding two who are in an expedition in Costa-Rica and in busy study before exams, seven university and high school students were gathered in front of family members and friend, in total of close to 30.
During the session, the word, “Love”, was repeatedly mentioned. “I was strongly held by armes when I was slipped over the floor”, “The family made me local medicine when I got sick at home-stay period”, and other stories were told. In Japan, those students are surrounded by smart phones and convenience stores. For such spoiled life, direct communications seeing each other in Yap was so impressive.
Family members told that “I believe surely that they had very significant experiences in Yap”, or “He had so exciting days, I am feeling” after hearing their presentations.
Some participants came from far away, like Kochi or Osaka. They kept talking just before the final train and the day after, many of those spent fun time at Tokyo Disney Land together. They did not want to be separated again. They look like understanding that the real program would begin after the whole activities in Yap.
We really appreciate strong support of people in Dechmur village and Yap island.
ECOPLUS conducted its flagship program, Yap-Japan Cultural Exchange Program 2018 from 18 to 29 August with nine students from high school to university in Dechumur village, Tamil, Yap. Provided cooked and un-coocked food like bread fruit, taro, fishes, crabs and others, students learnt a lot of locals skills like, weaving coconuts fronds or fishing in the ocean.
The Program started 1992 and since then ECOPLUS continued the program almost every year. For Dechumur village, it was the first time to host the group.
The base of the program was the women’s house of the village. Next to the concrete building, local toilet, shower room and cooking place were set. Next to the toilet, some trees had very soft leaves called “toilet leaf,” so students used those for their daily use. It was easily degraded rather than toilet paper. Low impact was one of the key words of the program.
One of the most impressive experiences was homestay. Each student was accepted by a different family for 2 nights. Modern economy and culture are changing Yap’s traditional lifestyle but the situations are different family by family. A host family was living in thatched roof houses under a huge tree and another host family has electric washing machine. However, family ties are quite strong in all families. During the stay, some families held a celebrating gathering. Through the stay, student impressed by the strong bond among the family members.
Having so many new experiences, like going to fish with local boys in the lagoon, hunting crabs in night time, being surprised the brightness of the moon, students safely return to Narita airport in the morning of 29 August. From students, such comments were continued. “It looks like the program is not yet terminated. We will digest so many things we learnt and those will guide us toward the our own lives for long time.”
They will work together to make an activity report of the program and will held a reporting session in late autumn.
Today, we went back from Niigata to Tokyo by bus. It was impressive that the students from Yap tried to see out of the window not to forget the scenery of Niigata. In the bus, they reflected what they had done in these nine days with the pictures.
After arrived at Tokyo, they deepened their learnings during this program and discussed what kind of future did they want in Yap. Then, they considered what they could do by themselves to make it happen.
During a farewell party in the evening, the students from Yap gave a presentation about their desired future of Yap and their learnings. Many people came and joined the farewell party including our supporters, host families and the people who had been to Yap. Thanks to them, it was a worm and wonderful party.
Seven students and two chaperons fro Yap island, Micronesia, have arrived at Tokyo in the morning of Sunday, 11 March and were greeted by Japanese young volunteers. The students will stay in Japan for 10 days to learn about environment, like garbage and waste water issues in Tokyo and in rural area.
The study tour was organized by ECOPLUS, a non-profit organization based in Japan, with the support of Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, United Airlines, Patagonia Japan and other organizations and citizens.
They departed Yap in the very early morning of the day and changed the plane in Guam. When they reached to the Tokyo international airport, 14 young Japanese were waiting for them. The temperature in Tokyo was like 10 C or 50 F. Many of students were saying it was a bit cold. They were given warm jackets and ride on the bus to the Tokyo Central Youth Hostel.
After checking in to the youth hostel, they took a walk around the area to observe the difference and similarities between Japan and Yap.
Professor NAKANO Kazunori of Nihon University joined them at 3:30 pm and gave then a hands-on lecture how to manage the quality of waste water from houses. They got sample water from the river next to the hostel and did experiments to filter those water through gravels, sand, and charcoal.
It was quite dense and long day for Yapese students but they were still so excited.