If I promise not to abuse you, will you help me promote a great program?
Most of my readers know me, and know I work for the Hiroshima Prefectural (State) Office, in the International Affairs Division. That's right. I am a JAPANESE Government employee. The only white guy in my building, actually. My point is, in case you stumbled upon this, my job is to promote international exchange and understanding in Hiroshima.
|I'm in the middle somewhere...|
I worked with a team of extremely skilled and experienced professionals at the Hiroshima International Plaza to develop a 2-week, summer program for intermediate-to-advanced level Japanese speakers to try out, and further develop their abilities here in Japan, while learning about the culture and history of Hiroshima.
Despite the short term of the program, it manages to include Japanese lessons, field trips, a weekend home stay, and even dinner parties and cultural activities. Other than the home-stay, participants stay at the gorgeous facility, which includes a dormitory with individual rooms, baths, toilets and internet connection; a rec center, full-sized, multi-purpose gymnasium, library, computer lab, classrooms, cafeteria serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and even free bicycle rentals.
|Taken from the third floor veranda: Foreground is reflection of behind me, background is the city through the glass|
Here's where I need your help: I've run into a few problems promoting it.
1) Universities aren't interested in helping.
Even though this is an incredible learning opportunity, we cannot offer college credit flat out, and even if we could, it would be up to each individual university, and I just can't contact every Japanese department, or study abroad office in the world. My own alma mater, the University of Arizona told me: We already offer enough programs to Japan.
2) It is hard to make people realize the full extent of the opportunity.
This is more than just two-weeks of study Japanese all day, every day. Besides the sight seeing field trips to Miyajima and the Hiroshima Peace Park (each home to a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site), participants also get to visit businesses and/or the University of Hiroshima, and ask questions about studying or working in Japan. We also want to invite participants from all over the world, giving them the added opportunity of creating bonds with people from Japan and other countries as well.
3) People are scared of coming to Japan.
Sadly, as I've touched on in a previous post, the news has been working almost 24-7 to confuse and misinform the world on the state of affairs in Japan, and the consequences will be devastating and long lasting.
As if a giant earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor crises weren't enough, the unwarranted bad press has caused tourists, businesses, students, and even governments, to cancel plans, visits, deals, and opportunities all across Japan. That is their decision to make, and I can recognize the wisdom in erring on the side of caution, but HIROSHIMA IS FINE. No tainted water supplies, irradiated milk or vegetables; no damaged train lines or rolling blackouts: we are fine.
Better than fine, in fact. Hiroshima has an amazing effect on everyone who visits here. The same way those who come here are inevitably surprised by the level of revitalization and recovery Hiroshima City has achieved since the atomic bombing almost 67 years ago, we need people to participate in programs like this, not just for our economy, but to show the world that Japan is not the ruined picture of a country the mainstream media is so eager to portray.
|Taken on my cell-phone camera, also made in Hiroshima, on the anniversary of the bombing, Aug. 6th 2010.|
Finally, this program needs at least ten participants in order for the Hiroshima International Plaza, to make back the cost of holding it. Reversely, this means if you have or know of a group of 10 or more people who would like to study there, you can contact me and the HIP will help you set up your own, private, custom program for anything from a week to a month!
PLEASE feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested or know people who are interested. If you have ideas on how to help spread the word about my program or want more information, such as dates and prices, for yourself, please leave me a comment or message here, -OR- you can message me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/yogafire