“Theme: Local Community,” we will share students’
experiences in the SIGLOC program.
My name is Akane Yuhi, and I participated in the 4th SIGLOC (educational program) with De La Salle University students that was held in Japan in 2019.
I am a sophomore in the Faculty of Commerce!
I belong to the clubs of international and regional organizations at the university as an extracurricular activity.
The summer vacation for Osaka City University (OCU) students is about two months!
During my summer vacation as a freshman, I was looking for a short study-abroad program where I would be able to study English, because I could not study English during the first semester. At that time, I found this COIL program!
I wanted to find out what I could do about social issues surrounding us as a university student, and broaden my knowledge about welfare and the public with other students through this program.
With mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety, the program is about to begin!
Before the program started, Professor Nakajima gave us pre-work information.
Let’s enjoy the 13-day virtual experience!
We met with De La Salle students, and all of us participated in the orientation first.
And Osaka City University Campus Tour♪
It was really hot last September, so we stayed indoors as much as possible and toured the campus only from the Faculty of Economics Building to the Media Center (Osaka City University Library).
Before lunch, we introduced the library area, checkout and return areas on the 2nd floor, the PC room, and Learning Commons on the 5th floor of the Media Center.
In the afternoon, we had a lecture given by a staff member from the Hannan City Hall providing an overview of the city and the basics of its administration. She introduced Hannan City in English and told us that we would be entertained by the different seasons of the city, which is located between the sea and mountains.
There was a welcome ceremony in the evening.
Both De La Salle students and OCU students introduced themselves to each other.
After that, De La Salle students explained briefly about their university.
In our free time, they showed us pictures of Manila and De La Salle University, and explained about life in Manila.
We have successfully completed the first day of the program!
Looking at the pictures of the presentation materials given by Ms. Kimura of the Hannan City Hall, I learned that Hannan City is a wonderful place abundant in nature, and I became excited to actually visit there as an intern.
All the De La Salle students I had just met were smiling and friendly, and I wanted to get to know them better! I decided to do my best for the next two weeks!
The second day of the program!
Today we worked in a group and had discussions on our research before visiting our internship site. I was assigned to the Group 3, and it was composed of two OCU students and three De La Salle students, a total of five students. Our group’s theme was “Local Community” and we discussed the following topics: * Local volunteer activities * The significance and role of “Machinaka Cafe/Salons” * The current situation of the “Machinaka Cafe/Salons” in Hannan City * Creation of our survey contents and interview question items – For customers, for managers and staff * Action plan (visiting plan, etc.)
We exchanged opinions on the differences in the system and practice of social welfare between Japan and the Philippines.
We started a preliminary study about the Hannan City Administration Management Office, the Hannan City Council of Social Welfare, and the Citizen Welfare Division of the Social Welfare Department under the theme of supporting social relations in the local community. The staff of the Council of Social Welfare and volunteers mainly support the “local community” of Hannan City. I didn’t know anything about the Council of Social Welfare because I had never been involved in activities of social welfare before. Ms. Komura, the COIL Specially Appointed Lecturer, and another Japanese teammate, who has knowledge of social welfare, gave me advice while I was studying.
The internship has started today! Our group visited the “Hannan City Council of Social Welfare” and “Atago Plaza (Maikou District Council of Social Welfare).” During the internship, staff members in Hannan City gave us presentations first, and then we asked questions that we had prepared. While staff members in Hannan City were giving presentations, the OCU students interpreted Japanese into English for the De La Salle students. When the De La Salle students asked questions to the Hannan City staff, the OCU students interpreted English into Japanese. We visited two intern sites in a day; one in the morning and another in the afternoon, and spent about two hours per site, four hours in total per day. I was not used to interpreting Japanese into English and vice versa simultaneously for such a long time. So, for the first week, it caused me a headache when I woke up in the morning.
“Atago Plaza” is one of about 40 Hannan City’s “Machinaka Cafe/Salons”! The place is a renovated building that used to be a kindergarten. Now it is used as a cafe, a place for culture classes, and for lending children’s books to residents in the neighborhood. I was surprised to know that the place is managed by only volunteers: 100 people – 70 men and 30 women, taking turns five times a week from morning until evening. Besides the daily volunteer activities, it is also a place where the volunteers can get together and interact with each other once a month. It’s such a lovely place. What is the role of “Hannan City Machinaka Cafe/Salons”?: In Hannan City, the elderly are getting more “isolated” due to the declining birthrate and aging population. There are health promotion and exchange events that anyone can participate in at each cafe/salon. These events can give elderly people opportunities to go out on a regular basis and can prevent withdrawal and dementia. In addition, these places are managed by healthy senior staff, in their 60s and above, working as volunteers after retirement. It is also an advantage for them to be able to contribute to the community where they live.
At the end of the first day of the internship, I was afraid that I was not able to interpret for the De La Salle students even half of what the Hannan City staff and Atago Plaza volunteers had told us. This was because I didn’t have enough English skills and vocabulary on social welfare and public/volunteer topics, and I also had not done enough preliminary research. For example, I should have gotten more information about the Council of Social Welfare and public welfare officers, and the difference between long-term care recipients and long-term support recipients in the field of long-term care. After this experience from the first day, I decided to prepare myself with relevant vocabulary in advance during the pre-camp research at OCU, so that I would be able to interpret the Hannan City people’s speech better, by supplementing my limited knowledge of Japanese social welfare.
The second day of the internship today! We visited “Apron no Kai” and “Asahi Kai Iki-iki Salon.” “Apron no Kai (apron meeting)” is one of the Hannan City “Machinaka Cafe/Salons” that carries out various welfare activities. It aims to create “a place for interaction where anyone can easily come and go” and “a place for preventive care to maintain good health.” It is a sustainable NPO corporation that is managed by only volunteer staff. It sells citizens’ handmade crafts and harvested products from nearby farms, and gains a certain percent of the income from the sales. De La Salle students told me that in the Philippines there are organizations selling farm crops, and they also interact with home gardeners. There was not a lot of information available on the websites of the organizations we talked to this time, so we were able to do our research by actually visiting them and listening to their story in person.
At the “Asahi Kai Iki-iki Salon (Asahi meeting lively salon),” we first listened to a medical professional’s explanation about health with the elderly participants, and then participated in a free conversation with them. During the free conversation, OCU students worked in pairs with De La Salle students and listened to many participants as much as time permitted. Most of them lived alone and their children lived far away. I was able to learn about the actual situation of the elderly in Hannan City, as mentioned by the staff and volunteers at each internship site. De La Salle students and the elderly talked to each other about their own families and towns. I enjoyed this free conversation very much and it was one of the most enjoyable memories during the program for me!
#Intermediate Camp 1
An intermediate camp today! We held presentations on the following themes: * Current situation and issues of community welfare * Role of social welfare councils – Sustainability (finance, human resources…) * Welfare comparison between Japan and the Philippines Our group made a presentation about the Hannan City “Machinaka Cafe/Salons.” Before the presentation, I thought about how we could explain the current situation of “Machinaka Cafe/Salons” to make the Filipino students understand it better, as they had never been to a place like that.
It’s Saturday today, so we all went to Kyoto♪ We visited Sanjusangendo and the Kyoto National Museum, and experienced creating handmade Kumihimo, Japanese traditional plaited cords, and also shogi piece straps.
The senior students who had participated in the previous program became our guides. They provided a plan to visit many places to fully enjoy Kyoto in one day. I recommend the plan to anybody who would like to visit Kyoto for sightseeing!
On Sunday, we went to Kobe with the De La Salle students upon their request. We visited Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum in Nada, and Kobe Harborland.
We’ve been together from morning until night for the last two days, so we felt very close to each other!
#Intermediate Camp 2
The second day of the intermediate camp today! We held presentations on the following themes: *Summary of internships 1 and 2, and improvement points *Survey of successful cafe activities in other communities * Preparation of improvement measures, proposal of KPI (hypothesis)
The third day of the internship today! We visited “COCO Icotto” and “Atago Plaza.” “COCO Icotto” is a support organization that aims to create a place for a wide range of withdrawn people, from the young to the elderly. They provide consultation to the family of withdrawn people and those who were introduced by the Council of Social Welfare in Hannan City. But it is said that these people are just a small part of many withdrawn people. The counseling staff is there to listen to the withdrawn people and consult them, but according to the staff, if they get too close to the withdrawn people, the staff may become physically and mentally unwell. To avoid such a situation, they must have counseling skills. After “COCO Icotto,” we visited “Atago Plaza” for the second time. Hannan City is one of the areas within Osaka where the population is aging. The age difference between the customers and volunteer staff is only 10 years. There is a concern that the current volunteers will become salon customers soon and there will be almost no one to work as a volunteer in the near future. So it is necessary to increase the number of new volunteers. We were told that because Atago Plaza is open only during the day, only people who have retired, in their 60s or more, are currently working as volunteers at the plaza. The average age of the current volunteers is 74.
#Last Day of Internship
The last day of the internship! We prepared our presentation in Hannan City Hall in the morning, and gave a presentation to the staff from Hannan City Hall and the Council of Social Welfare. Our presentation was about the current situation and problems such as the aging of volunteers at the Hannan City “Machinaka Cafe/Salons,” and the solutions to them. The De La Salle students gave a presentation in English and we interpreted it into Japanese. At the end of the presentation, the De La Salle students introduced a welfare organization focusing on solving social problems in the Philippines. In the discussion with the City Hall staff, we shared our impressions of Hannan City after actually coming to the city, and our opinions on the “Machinaka Cafe/Salons.” The City Hall staff asked questions about the awareness of volunteers in the Philippines, where volunteer activities are popular. According to the De La Salle students, in the Philippines, there is a custom of starting volunteering from an early age. Private schools such as De La Salle University often give volunteer activities to students as a school assignment. Today is the end of my internship in Hannan City. We will start writing our final report tomorrow! Thank you to everyone in Hannan City! — Spin-off story ☆ — After school on weekdays, we visited Osaka Castle and Namba! In Namba, we went to the Dotonbori area and took photos in a special photo booth (which is called Purikura) and ate Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake). We even had a Takoyaki (ball-shaped Japanese snack with octopus) party at the accommodations of De La Salle students. After eating, we sang songs, danced together, and talked for a long time on the terrace.
The day of the “follow-up camp,” the final stage of the program today! We have created a Social Innovation Report by summarizing what we have learned, experienced and discussed during the program, both in Japanese and English. We worked together to finalize a report that gives readers a common understanding both in Japanese and English by comparing the two perspectives of Japan and the Philippines.
#Final Presentation Day
The final debriefing today! We shared what we had learned during the program and deepened our understanding with the other groups.
My group was working on a completely different task than the other groups in Hannan City, so I was able to learn about different activities and share them with the whole group in the final debriefing session.
At the end, we took a picture with the students of Osaka City University / De La Salle University, and instructors!
#The Last Day
The program felt like it was over in no time, and today I had to say goodbye to the De La Salle students. I went to Kansai International Airport to see them off! It was really hard to say goodbye because we had been together for two weeks from morning until night, attending the SIGLOC program and hanging out together. When I look at the photos I took at the airport, we all look sad because we were going to miss each other. We said goodbye but we promised that we would go to Manila to visit them!
I learned about the “local community,” and I have also made 15 important friends in this program. I highly recommend this SIGLOC educational program for those who are interested in studying abroad. There are many things I can’t express just by this virtual diary: how I changed after the program, how nice Hannan City was, how important the friends who took the program together were… I really want you to experience it! I hope you all will have a special two weeks at the SIGLOC educational program☆
How was the diary?
Now it's your turn to attend the actual program!
We are looking forward to your participation in SIGLOC.