August 20, I came to Okinawa.
The visit is for the Asian Youth Exchange Program (Ref. 1) that started last year. As I have reported before it is a project of having youth from Asia and Japan spend 3 weeks together in Okinawa. This year, 35 international students (15 nations) and 42 Japanese students (14 from Okinawa) participated. Their age was mostly 15 or 16. This kind of exchange programs should be more actively expanded. Experience of mixing with other young people in their youth is the basis of formation of broad perspectives towards the future and constructing networks of friendship. The whole world sees this as especially important (Ref.1) in this global age and is moving based on this notion.
6 students from the Asia Pacific University who participated as Tutors last year were also present as well as students from the University of the Ryukyus and Okinawa University.
But this year, the swine flu spread rapidly in Okinawa including 3 mortalities and when I arrived some participants were taking rests because of fever. My topic was “The Global Age and Innovation”. I was told that there were several sessions on “Water”, and students divided in several groups according to their views had variety of discussions on the problem of “Water”. So, I asked each group what they discussed about “Water” and we had a dialogue along that line.
The participants were all very lively and active. I enjoyed being with them. The overall program was full with seminars, transfer to islands, snorkeling, home stay, and so on. Maybe a bit more of free time could have done them good. I do imagine, however, that looking after such active youths must be exhausting!
Anand Ivannanto of APU, a participant of last year (who unfortunately could not be in my seminar because of sudden fever), and other university students are voluntarily setting up website and Networks such as FaceBook. I would like to encourage all to spread such activities.
I have mentioned this last year too, but the ratio of male and female of Japanese participants was again ‘1:2’ this year. There are much less applications from male students. Why is it so? I wonder.
I went to see the site where construction of Okinawa Institute of Technology (OIST) was going on. Grand campus buildings were being built and I look very much forward to their completion. Of course, there will be many obstacles that we should overcome along the way.