How to snag an all-expense paid trip to Japan
Dreaming of traveling to Japan to enjoy its sights and sounds but don’t have the cash to visit the Land of the Rising Sun?
If you’re a student or young professional from countries which are members of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus Timor Leste, then you stand a chance to be part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth (JENESYS), a project of the Japan government that builds strong solidarity in Asia through large-scale goodwill exchange youth program.
Read on to know about JENESYS and how you can be part of this exciting opportunity to learn and travel.
Friendship and solidarity
JENESYS is a program that brings together young people for a 10-day all-expense paid trip and educates non-Japanese young leaders about Japan’s culture, heritage and economy. It’s all about friendship and solidarity and understanding of our similarities and differences and how we can live together in perfect harmony. The Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) is the main agency assigned to carry out the JENESYS program.
Best young leaders
Each country has a different screening program so make sure to check out your local youth’s commission or department for the specific requirements and application process. In the Philippines, for example, students and working youths apply for a chance to be part of the delegation who will be sent to Japan. This is a competitive process. The 14 young leaders of the Philippine JENESYS delegation, who participated in the program from May 15-23, were chosen out of 210 applications. Be sure to prepare the necessary documents and requirements. For sure, you will be asked to write an essay about a chosen topic so take some time to strategize with your head and write with your heart.
Fun and learning
So let’s say you made it as part of your country delegation, hooray! What’s next then? Remember that JENESYS is about learning about Japan and making the most out of your trip to absorb what you can about this great country. Intimidated? Fret not. JENESYS is a fun experience. Delegates go on site visits and plant tours to know more about a particular field or topic. Be sure to take notes though as the details you will learn from the speakers and team leaders are interesting and helpful for your current or future endeavors.
The previous batches had this format: all delegates meet in Tokyo for a brief orientation program. Afterwards, these young people are divided into groups who are assigned to specific prefectures. For instance, one group is assigned to travel around Nagasaki, where they are exposed to different activities such as visit to renewable energy companies, waste management plants and small enterprises. Delegates do sightseeing activities of historical landmarks enriching their collective and individual experiences of Japan.
When lady luck sides with you, you may find yourself assigned to a host family. This is not true to all groups though as some groups do not get to stay with Japanese families. But if you’re lucky to have this experience, then make the most of out it. Staying with a Japanese family is an opportunity of a lifetime. You get to eat traditional Japanese meals, wear a yukata (for women) and you may even have the chance to participate in their daily life activities such as farming. Japanese families are accommodating and caring and would always want their guests to feel comfortable.
A bit of Nihongo
If you don’t know any Japanese words yet, now is the time to pick up an English-Japanese guidebook to practice your Nihongo. Simple greetings such as “Konbanwa” and “Konnichiwa” go a long way to please the Japanese people. When you learn a language, you also learn the culture so make an effort to learn Japanese before you go to Japan should you be blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the JENESYS program.
Spread the word
What does the Japanese Government get from spending millions of dollars to host young people in their country? It is not a secret that Japan has an aging population and the country is struggling to remedy the situation especially of a declining population come 2044. This move is done to strengthen that bond in the hopes that in the future, Japan can rely on its neighbors for help and assistance when the need arises. In the JENESYS program, delegates are asked to present an action plan on how they plan to make use of their learnings when they go back to their home country. In short, they just really want delegates to spread the word about their learnings and observations about Japan. Ultimately, this experience would really work to the advantage of the delegate if he/she knows how to maximize his/her time in Japan.
So… are you ready to learn and travel in Japan?
Liantine Imamichi/ Philippines