ICU students and foreign students from partner universities participate in service learning in the Village of Tenryu, Nagano Prefecture

Update´╝ÜJuly 13, 2016

Group photo at the Village of Tenryu town hall

Group photo at the Village of Tenryu town hall

From June 29 (Wed) to July 5 (Tue), a total of 10 students from Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong* (Shatin, Hong Kong), which is a partner university of ICU's Service Learning Program**, Middlebury College*** (Vermont, U.S,), a partner institution of our exchange programs, and ICU students, visited the Village of Tenryu, Shimoina-gun, Nagano Prefecture, and carried out service learning activities*.

Last summer, a sophomore student stayed in the Village of Tenryu for one month and engaged in service activities as part of the community service learning program in Japan. This provided an opportunity for the Tenryu village office and ICU Service Learning Center to consider the formulation of a more systematic program utilizing ICU's international features, and after repeated discussions the service learning activity in the Village of Tenryu became a reality this summer.

During the program, the students interacted with local villagers through activities such as helping out with blueberry harvesting, planting of soy beans, which has been carried for generations in the village, attending a concert held at Tenryu Elementary School that has only 21 students, and a lecture on the construction of the Hiraoka Dam that gives you a feel of the history of war, exchanges with residents of the Sakabe area who have preserved the traditional rituals for 600 years as well as staying at homes of villagers for two days. The students experienced farm work, which they had never done before, and learned the village's unique culture, which was a totally different experience of Japanese culture and society from the one they would have in cities and proved to be an invaluable opportunity to take a fresh look at their own lifestyle and the way they perceive things.

After completing the activities in the Village of Tenryu, the 10 students returned to Tokyo and continued service activities for about two weeks at primary and junior high schools and facilities for the elderly in Mitaka City. They are scheduled to wrap up their experiences and lessons they learned from the service learning program at a report meeting on July 21 to which the Village of Tenryu town hall officials and those concerned in the Mitaka area will be invited.


Comments from students who participated in the service learning activities


*Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, is one of the four colleges of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, which ranks 13th in the college ranking in Asia (source: Times Higher Education), featuring education based on Christianity.

**The service learning is an educational program in which students experience service activities (service and voluntary activities) for a certain period of time and utilize what they have learned in actual service activities and gain new insights regarding their academic endeavors and careers from the actual service activities.

***Middlebury College ranks fourth in the U.S. Liberal Arts College Ranking (source: U.S. News Education) and is known for its high-quality education and strength in the science field.