JENESYS 2018 Local School Exchange with Japanese Schools
On 1st February 2018, the members of Dunman High School’s Yutaka Japanese Cultural Club (YJCC) had the privilege of hosting a group of Japanese students from the JENESYS exchange programme. Hailing from Yokosuka Sogo High School and Aichi Prefectural Tsushima Senior High School, the Japanese students were in town to learn more about our culture and the way of life here, as well as experience the typical school life of a Singaporean student.
After a morning of attending classes with their Dunmanian buddies and a sumptuous lunch subsequently, both Dunmanians and their Japanese counterparts had the opportunity to know each other better through a series of icebreakers and games in the afternoon. Despite the language barrier, students from both countries enjoyed the cross-cultural interactions very much. It was an enriching time of learning about new perspectives and worldviews.
In particular, the presentation by Yokosuka Sogo High School about how the Japanese people have managed to survive frequent earthquakes which strike their homeland, has made their Singaporean friends more appreciative of their country’s own geographical immunity to such devastating natural disasters. The importance of being prepared in times of crisis was deeply impressed upon the Dunmanians. The message was clear: that one should never grow complacent in times of peace, regardless of where they live.
On a lighter note, students from Aichi Prefectural Tsushima Senior High School introduced their buddies to the mesmerising four seasons and sensational pop culture scene of Japan. While the Dunmanians were more familiar with the internationally-recognisable pop culture of Japan, such as Japanese pop idols and cartoon characters, it was the picturesque images of Japan’s natural scenery that really struck them with awe and wonder. The photos of springtime, especially when pink and white cherry blossoms start to bloom, were a truly beautiful sight to behold. Likewise, YJCC members also gave their buddies a glimpse of the sights of Singapore, such as the iconic “Merlion” and local hotspots, including a brief introduction to Dunman High School’s history.
The JENESYS exchange programme was a tremendously fruitful time for all. The deep bonds forged between the Singaporean and Japanese students through this relatively brief encounter has shown that hearts and minds can be connected, though they may come from different worlds.
Here’s what one of our Dunmanians had to say about her experience with her Japanese friends:
“Before the day of the exchange, I was filled with excitement and apprehension at the same time. I was looking forward to learning more about the Japanese culture and improving my Japanese language skills, yet also stressing over whether the event will proceed smoothly and if I could communicate properly with my buddy. Nevertheless, with all the positive feedback from the Japanese students, I was glad it went relatively well, despite some communication barriers and initial lack of active participation during the games session.
From this event, the most obvious takeaway would be the exposure to a different culture, through speaking and learning the Japanese language, listening to their presentations, and the personal interactions I had with the students and teachers, such as finding out that calligraphy is an examinable subject in Japan.
But more than just deepening my understanding of the Japanese culture, I also gained a fresh perspective of viewing my own life and the Singaporeans’ way of life in general. During lunch, they were amazed by our vast array of canteen stalls and how we do not bring our food in a ‘bento’ set to school. While we took them on a school tour, they continuously praised the large size of our school compound and the extensiveness of the school facilities. A teacher also remarked to me how she found our multilingualism really impressive. All these made me realise how much I was taking the school and our education system for granted.
However, besides learning to appreciate what we have in Singapore more, the Japanese students and teachers also showed us what we were lacking in. Their presentation on emergency and disaster preparedness really astonished me, from the way they knew how to access the situation calmly, to their emergency ‘onigiris’ (rice balls) which could be cooked with just tap water. Even though Singapore is lucky enough to be free from natural disasters, the rising threat of terrorism globally means that Singaporeans should still remain alert and not take our security for granted. In addition, the students were also extremely organised and disciplined, adhering strictly to the time limit to tidy their luggage at the airport as their teacher counted down the seconds, and promptly queueing up into 2 neat rows for check-in according to their teachers’ instructions. This contrasted sharply with our relatively rowdy behaviour when we went on school overseas trips, as our students’ uncontrollable enthusiasm often meant we were a chaotic mess.
Overall, this exchange was highly meaningful and fruitful. Other than gaining new knowledge and perspectives, the friendships and memories forged are invaluable. From the exchange and daily chats on LINE, to sending them off at the airport and the preparation of parting gifts, these were all priceless memories that I will treasure for life.”
— 18Y6C44 Ang Wei Jing