“The Youth-Exchange Project with Asia-Oceania and North America (Kizuna (bond) Project)” is a project run by the Japanese government with the objective of promoting other countries’ understanding with regards to Japan’s revival efforts in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The project invites young people from 41 different countries/regions in Asia-Oceania and North America, allowing them to participate in exchange programs, visit disaster-affected areas and engage in volunteer activities. It also involves sending young people from Japan to target countries/regions. Over 12,000 people are to become part of the exchange through this project. http://sv2.jice.org/kizuna/e/what/about/
Japanese participants of the Kizuna (Bond) Project visited Auckland for about 10 days during March. There was altogether a total of 30 students from various Japanese universities situated in the affected areas in the group. Towards the end of their visit they invited a few people from the wider Japanese and Japan related community to attend their reporting back session in Parnell.
A few JETAA members had the privilege to attend and witness the energy and positive outlook of these young adults as the spoke about Japan’s recovery effort two years later. The group reported back on their activities and learnings over their time in Auckland. They had visited with Auckland Council representatives and found out about how our civil defence policies and procedures sometimes paralleled Japan’s and at other times were different. The also visited with local university students learning about New Zealand’s energy generation that harnesses our unique environment and situation. They discussed whether our solutions would be practical for Japan’s need and situation. They also shared with us their own first-hand accounts of events on that tragic day and the days that followed.
The energy and drive of these young people was and is amazing. Have a look on the JETAA Auckland Facebook page for a video of the haka they performed for us.
They shared with us the idea that these events were terrible but also that lessons could be taken from these experiences to move forward in a positive way.
The comments of a fellow JETAA attendee, Raewyn MacGregor sum up the session well:
In my opinion, if those kids are Tohoku’s future, Japan is in good hands. They were articulate, passionate and keen to keep learning and grow in the spirit of multinational cooperation. Yes, we can learn from each other.