It is hard to describe how many amazing experiences you can fit into just nine days. The experiences come thanks to the 28th JCI Academy in Tokyo and ranged from martial arts and sumo demonstrations, spending three nights with a Japanese family, visiting shrines and temples and a fabulous farewell party on a boat followed by late-night karaoke.
JCI Academy brings together incoming national presidents from all over the world and incoming local presidents from around Japan. This year there were 76 international and 90 Japanese delegates. The academy was a whirlwind of cultural immersion, inspirational training and bonding.
My team for the week – Maciej from Poland, Yedi from Indonesia, Michi, Toshi, Yuki, Miyuki and Yukito from Japan and Amour from Burkina Faso.
Yuki and Miyuki were my beautiful, funny and caring buddies
Throughout the academy, the Japanese people were incredible, always demonstrating omotenashi (the Japanese spirit of hospitality), as well as JCI Tokyo’s theme’s of “respect” and “surprise”. We visited an elementary school, where the children had prepared to introduce themselves to us and ask us questions about our countries. We were also treated to musical performances and observed some lessons from different year groups. One evening we visited a fete, where we could try different Japanese foods, dress up in traditional clothes and watch dancing. We also did some sightseeing, learning about the history of parts of Tokyo and making our own lucky bracelet.
Out and about with my wonderful host family the Aizawas and friends
We also worked hard, taking part in challenging exercises, guiding each other in blind soccer, working on leadership questions and undertaking overnight group work, culminating in a presentation of our vision for JCI in 2016 to the group.
If the aim of the academy is to prepare us for leading our organisations, I can safely say I come back inspired, motivated and confident in my own ability to do so. Nothing demonstrated this more than when our fantastic trainer Lars Hajslund from Denmark said to us “you’re now going to jump on broken glass” or “it’s time to break a piece of wood with your bare hands”. I didn’t hesitate and surrounded by my new friends cheering me on, I did it, proving that anything is possible. It is that “just do it” attitude I hope to bring back to JCI UK.
Team K with our smashed wood
I feel so lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to attend JCI Academy and to have shared it with so many amazing people. Even better is that these are the people I will be working with as national presidents next year.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Sarah Beckwith