High School Students from Disaster Areas Carry Out Cultural Interchange with Foreign Exchange Students from Around the World – JENESYS FESTIVAL Report

On the 17th December (Saturday), 24 of the high school students who participated in the BEYOND Tomorrow Tohoku Future Leaders Summit accepted invitations to take part in the “JENESYS FESTIVAL” being hosted by AFS Japan in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

With the theme being “Connections to the World”, high school students from 13 countries including Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam were brought together for the event. The students sang and recorded a song in English written by the singer Mariya Takeuchi, which expressed the connections that exist above the level of regional and national differences and under the theme of “bonds”. In addition to this the students also had chance for the new experience of making friends from all over the world, carrying out exchange by using their “profile cards” at the networking event with several hundred students from abroad. Together with the challenge of communicating in English, this made for an extremely educational day despite each individuals nervousness and excitement, with the students commenting as to how they had never actually met people from these various countries despite having heard about them, and expressing their surprise and happiness at having actually had a conversation in English.

The support received from various countries from all over the world following the earthquake disaster left a big impression in the hearts of high school students from the disaster areas – “because of the assistance from all those countries I am able to live my life today” “I want to broaden my horizons through studying abroad” “I want to develop my English, and return the favor to countries of the rest of the world.” At this festival the 24 young participants, who developed a personal desire to expand their activities into the wider world as a result of the earthquake, were able to learn and feel many things through their interaction with exchange students from around the world.

We are very thankful to AFS Japan and everyone else who cooperated in this event.