You hear a lot about JCI Academy from its graduates. It’s supposed to be the experience of a lifetime for a JCI member. Graduates come back raving about new friends, buddies, teams, host families and lots of other concepts that don’t really make sense to us non-graduates.
Getting our group photo taken in front of the Gotoko Shrine in Toyama the first day of the academy
So getting the news that I was accepted (one person per country is accepted, normally the deputy national president), I was hesitant. Is this really going to be that amazing? It sounded exhausting. No sleep for a whole week? Spending three days with a Japanese host family? Spending 24/7 with a Japanese buddy that speaks no English? A team where half the team speaks no English? Will there be enough food? Enough coffee?
All I can say is YES. It is all that and even more. It’s not brainwashed raving. The Academy really is the best experience you can ever have. It is really beyond words. And of course, my Academy, the 24th JCI Academy in Toyama, was the best academy of them all. No discussion.
My buddy Tomoko talks about her hometown, Fukushima
Well – the 24th Academy was different. What made it different? Happening in a year with the greatest natural catastrophe in the history of Japan, this made its impact on the academy, both in who participated (some participants were scared to come to Japan), and also in the stories our fellow Japanese delegates had to share with us.
It so happened that I was buddy with a participant from Fukushima, were the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is located. It’s an understatement that Tomoko’s life was changed by the catastrophes the 11th of March. My perspective on the disaster has also been changed, and I will write another blog post on the experiences we had as delegates traveling to Sendai and on the work done by JCI in the aftermath of the disaster.
Academy Chairman Junichi talks about his hometown Sendai with my buddy Tomoko, from Fukushima
What did we do? Writing up everything we did at the Academy will take a book, so I will keep to some highlights:
- Made friends for life from absolutely all around the world
- Sit up late nights drinking sake, discussing life, JCI and everything in between while feeding unsuspecting Japanese salty “salmiak” Danish candy
- Worked on the JCI global plan on action for 2012 and our own plans for 2012
- Break a piece of wood with my own bare hands
- Understanding the Japanese concept of Shin-Su (an enterprising spirit towards the future) and how we can be Shin-Su leaders
- Experience Japanese hospitality staying with and being part of a Japanese family three days
- Experience Japanese schooling by being part of a Japanese primary school’s day
- Experience and learn about Japanese culture, food and people
- Get to know the most fabulous buddies in the world – Tomoko and Takanori (yes, I had two)
- Get about 300 new and real facebook friends, from the Academy Commission and members to Delegates, host families and schools…
Thank you JCI, JCI Japan, JCI Toyama and JCI Sendai for giving me this amazing opportunity!
Building a bridge with my team – Yoshi, Katsu, Kentarou, Takanori and Tomoko from Japan, Soren from Denmark, Sean from Taiwan, Hayden from Trinidad & Tobago and me from the UK
Working with my team until 5am to finish our homework with no translators.
Learning calligraphy – I’ve written “Dream” on one of the Toyama Cultural experiences
Visiting a Japanese school and be part of their day
Playing a game with my new friends
Meeting my host family, the Kanda family, with whom I spent three nights and two whole days
With my fabulous buddies – Takanori from Kanazawa and Tomoko from Fukushima
We all graduated!
My whole team did
The last party
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Sofie Sandell