2009 International Youth Exchange and Cooperation Study Tour Life-Changing Summer Vacation

With the aim of fostering the interest of youth in international exchange and cooperation and of cultivating leaders of the next generation by sending them to a developing nation and allowing them to learn about the situation first-hand, this Foundation conducted the International Youth Exchange and Cooperation Study Tour.

 The nine young people participating in the tour last year spent seven nights and nine days together in Bangladesh, each carrying with them great expectations and slight angst, with thoughts like, “I want to do even just a little to help the poor”, “I want to think about how I am going to live my life from now on”.

 In the capital, Dhaka, the group visited the UCEP (Underprivileged Children Education Program) Technical School, which is one of the activity sites of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. This school is operated through foreign support, and helps children living in poverty by offering them educational opportunities and supporting them from professional training through to gaining employment. At the school, it was impressive to see the children who are still very young operating at will the lathes and other specialist machinery, under the guidance of the teachers and cooperation volunteers.

 The next place that the group visited was Cox’s Bazar, which is located in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh. Here they went to see preschools and an elementary school operated through support from Hiroshima. The group members interacted with the children, giving them misanga designed in the image of the national flags of Bangladesh and Japan, and origami crane paper planes as presents. Some of the schools they visited did not have electricity, but nonetheless the children there were studying hard.

Participants enjoying themselves with children at Tayama Integral School founded by Tayama Foundation (August 5, 2009)
 Then they held Hiroshima exhibitions in Cox’s Bazar on August 6 (Thu) and Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city, on August 8 (Sat). After showing a DVD introducing today’s Hiroshima City and the video “Hiroshima: A Mothers’ Prayer” about the atomic bombing, the group members, dressed in yukata (summer kimono), gave explanations in English about the monuments at Peace Memorial Park and the initiatives of Mayors for Peace. These explanations gave prominent local people and many others an understanding of the actual situation of the atomic bombing and Hiroshima’s recovery to the present day, as well as of current peace initiatives. 

 The group members saw the reality of poverty, such that, it makes one want to look away, and the actual state of the social gap between rich and poor.
They returned home with many questions about what they had seen. We hope that the participants will make use of this valuable experience in their life from now on, and eventually act as a bridge between Bangladesh or other developing nations and Japan, as leaders of Hiroshima’s international exchange and cooperation activities.

(International Relations and Cooperation Division)

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