In September 2019, BEYOND Tomorrow Asia Summer Program 2019 was organized in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Select 8 students experienced the rapid economic growth in Bangkok and Singapore, and also engaged in volunteer activities and home-stays with hill tribe minorities and local students in northern Thailand. Under the theme of supporting people’s autonomy, the participants thought about what they could do for the future of Asia, a region comprised of people with diverse backgrounds.
– Administered by Global Fund for Education Assistance
– Supported by EXPO’70 FUND KANSAI OSAKA 21st Century Association
– In cooperation with Sikha Asia Foundation; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Department of Foreign Languages, Phayao University
– Program venues
Tokyo, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia
8 students enroled in BEYOND Tomorrow’s annual scholarship program
Tokyo – orientation on September 1
To deepen the understanding on the site, the participants learned about the concept of supporting one’s autonomy from Keiko KIyama, an expert on international aid. They also visited the Japan Office of Ban Rom Sai, an NPO running an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and got an understanding of the history and activities in Thailand.
Thailand – Asia’s economic growth and local communities on September 2- 10
The participants visited Bangkok, Thailand, and visited Japanese Embassy in Thailand and international organizations to learn about different aspects of Thai society. After feeling the economic energy of the capital, they moved to northern Thailand. In the north, they met with local people at student dormitories for hill tribe minorities, local orphanages, kindergartens, University of Phayao, etc. and conducted field work in local communities to think about how to support people’s autonomy. In particular, they stayed overnight at student dormitories for hill tribe youths and also experienced home-stay in hill tribe villages to learn the hill tribe way of living first-hand.
Singapore and Indoesia – Wrap-up on September 11 – 13
In Singapore, the participants organized their learning in Thailand and discussed how to address the issues they had found under the theme of supporting local people’s autonomy. In the offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore, the participants made a presentation in front of the professionals working there and had a discussion with them. As the finale, the participants had a moment of reflection in Indonesia, and talked about how to apply the learning from the experience towards the future.
“I was privileged with opportunities to engage in dialogue with so many people during the program, such as Japanese professionals in Thailand, Thai university students, hill tribe minority children, people living in a slum, staff of aid agencies, etc.. I was struck to see such a diverse range of people living in one country and also felt a wall among them. As the social gap continues to expand in the world, there is no one equation for all – that is what I learned in the program.”
Raku Tsubouchi School of Foreign Studies, Osaka University (Graduate of Imabari Nishi High School, Ehime Prefecture)
Raku was born and spent her childhood in Canada. Her Canadian father and Japanese mother divorced, and Raku returned to Japan with her mother and siblings. It was a very tough transition, holding many warm memories of Canada, but she always planned to go back to Canada someday and see her father. By participating in BEYOND Tomorrow, Raku shared so many stories with her friends, and learned to take her life seriously and take on challenges. Moving forward, she would like to help create an environment where new members could struggle and enjoy themselves at BEYOND Tomorrow, and become a role model for them.
“Because I am an economics major at university, I was able to bring the perspectives of economics in the discussion and presentation during the program. Before the program, I had no idea how to make a contribution to international aid, but the program taught me that academic learning at university can actually help expand the potential of people living thousands of miles away. After coming back to Japan, I decided to learn about fair trade and take actions.”
Yuriko Okabayashi Faculty of Economics, Kagawa University (Graduate of Tosa High School)
Yuriko grew up in a single mother household because her father passed away when she was still a child. Watching her mother work tirelessly while supporting her younger brother, who became rebellious and violent, was extremely painful. Yuriko thought that she may be the only one who is struggling through circumstances like this. But she was struck to encounter BEYOND Tomorrow, where she was able to share her suffering and anxiety with friends trying hard to move forward despite the challenging circumstances – it was a place where she could show her own self. Seeing the friends’ spark of life, Yuriko decided that she wanted to be like them and take her life seriously. In the future, her dream is to one day contribute to her home prefecture of Kochi through regional revitalization.