A whirlwind academy in Japan

A whirlwind academy in Japan

July 18, 2017 5:57 pm Published by 2 Comments

Brilliant, Exhausting, Inspiring, Testing, Life Changing and Amazing. These are all terms used by my fellow delegates to describe the past 10 days, and I would agree with all of them 100%.

Photo of all the delegates of the 20th JCI Academy in Kumamoto Japan

let me start by explaining what Japan Academy is. Each year the Deputy National Presidents from all around the world are invited to join members from JCI Japan in a 10 day training course designed to make us as ready as possible for the year we take on the role of National President. The 10 days are split into two main parts. Firstly is a home stay with a Japanese family and the second is the main training itself.

For me, the home stay is the truly unique part of the academy and you would struggle to get through any other training or opportunity. A family opens their home to you for two days, and you are treated as one of the family.

From Left to Right, Shohei, Emi & Kenichi along with the Grandmother of the Family

My family was made up of Kenichi, Emi & Shohei. Kenichi was the father and unfortunately didn’t get to spent much time with him. There was a typhoon raging and the increased water levels meant he had to work the majority of the weekend, but the time I did spend with him was great. Emi was the mother of the family. She was warm, welcoming and caring and couldn’t do enough for me. I spent the majority of my time with Shohei though. Shohei is planning to go to Seattle to study English in September so I wanted to help him as much as possible. We went to the local shopping mall, then a local park and wrapped the day off with a visit to an art gallery. They threw a very excessive farewell dinner of Sushi and other Japanese food on the night I left them and I will always be grateful to them for giving me such a warm welcome. Hopefully I’ll be able to return the favour in the future.

The next day the formal training started and we met our buddies. Every international delegate is buddied up with one or two Japanese delegates from the team you working in for the rest of the academy. I was paired up with Mae Chan and Ken. Daniel, the Deputy National President from JCI Sweden, got buddied up with Yoshi, the other male Japanese delegate in our team. We ended up sharing one room between the five of us which thankfully turned out to be easily big enough for all of us. The five of us became really good friends over the

From Left to Right, Ken, Daniel, Yohsi, Mae Chan and me.

Now I’m going to be really carefully what I say about the activities of the Academy training, not because there is anything to hide, but because part of it is not knowing what is to come if you attend, and I would hope there is at least one future Deputy National President reading this and wouldn’t want to spoil their experience. All I can say is there is a lot of great content, a lot of reflection on yourself as an individual and also on your leadership style. There are also a lot of great tools that can be used both on a National and Local basis which I’ll be working on over the next few months with the Local Deputy Presidents from across the country.

Away from the training sessions, Japan Academy provides a great opportunity for the Delegates from around the world to get to know each other. By forming these relationships before the year starts means we understand each other and can get on with the job of making JCI even better.

Team V working late into the night on a project to deliver the next day.

After a lot of sleep deprived nights (well, it wouldn’t be a JCI academy without them!) and a lot of hard work from all the delegates, we had completed the academy and graduated. We then met up with our host families again for a farewell reception.

As I write this I am sat in Dubai airport still trying to process all the learning, experiences and friendships I’ve gain in the last ten days. I genuinely can’t put into words what the experience was like as it is so unique. All I can say is if at some point, you become Deputy National President, you’ll be in for an experience like no other.

As we now come to the middle of July, I’m actively starting the planning for next year and the academy has help with that. More will come out soon, but if in the mean time you have any ideas of what you want to see happen, or if you are interested in standing for a position on the National Board, please send me an email to ben.hawley@jciuk.org.uk

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This post was written by Ben Hawley

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