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From 15 to 22 December 2015, The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) invited 150 university students from more than 40 countries of Europe and Central Asia to come to Japan to participate in the MIRAI program. MIRAI means “future” in Japanese and the programme aims at promoting mutual understanding, enhancing intellectual discussions and creating a strong network between future leaders of the world and Japan. MOFA had appointed AFS Japan and EFIL as the secretariats in resp. Japan and Europe, in charge of the implementation of the programme.
It was an intense and interesting week where the participants got to discover Japanese society, technology, business and history – and an intercultural variety of people! The group visited high profile educational institutions such as Keio University, and big companies such as JICA, Rakuten, Fuji Manufacturing, Mori Building Corporation. Participants were split in small groups and got the unique opportunity to experience true Japanese culture while staying with a local host family for three days. The hospitality from the volunteers of AFS Japan, local chapters and host families was incredible and participants created personal and long-lasting relations with Japan. The final day included a visit to the famous Meiji Jingu Shrine, and a session including some great discussions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sponsor of the programme.
EFIL was in close communication with the participants before and after the travel to Japan, and organised online webinars and two in-person intercultural trainings as part of the GCC (Global Competence Course) of SENTIO, which gave the participants the opportunity to reflect upon their unique intercultural experiences of their stay in Japan.
Here are some of the impressions from the participants:
- “best opportunity for intercultural learning”
- “one of the most wonderful experiences in my life”
- “organisers and volunteers provided maximum help and were very professional”
- “thank you for giving us such an unforgettable chance”
- “ideal program to develop friendships among young generations”
The evaluation revealed that 100% of the participants confirmed that they would like to return to Japan!
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