Over the four weeks from Wednesday, July 5 to Wednesday, August 2, a total of 15 students from Assumption University (Thailand), Seoul Women's University (South Korea) and Silliman University (Philippines), which are partner universities of ICU's Service Learning Program, and Middlebury College (U.S.), a partner institution of our exchange programs, and ICU carried out Service Learning activities.
The students engaged in activities such as supporting a self-contained class for students with special needs in Mitaka City (Tokyo), assisting English education at elementary schools, volunteering at an after-school children's class in Koganei City (Tokyo) and helping with planting and shipment of vegetables by farmers in the city. Following the last year program, the students also stayed for a week at the Village of Tenryu, Nagano Prefecture, and conducted interviews to villagers applying Oral History techniques (which was our first-time attempt), helped harvesting tea leaves, and experienced cooking specialties of the village, soba noodles and gohei-mochi rice cake. Students stayed with families in the village to promote exchange with the local people and learned in depth about the culture and history of the village quite different from those of larger cities to enrich their understanding of Japan.
On the last day of the program, students gave presentations on their activities inviting related people from within and outside of ICU, including those who accepted the students for the Service Learning program. The presentations engaging the participation of guests offered a good opportunity for promoting exchange and interaction among everyone present.
Students seemed to have realized the amount of their personal growth in one month through the Service Learning experience. Their comments included the following: "I was able to try things that I had thought would be impossible for me to do. I learned that I shouldn't limit my own possibilities," "I grew personally so much thanks to the people I encountered through this program, I used to be only a sapling but now I have grown branches, borne fruits, and I'm happy to be able to return them to the people around me from now on," "I became more aware that I belong to a local community. I want to continue to actively seek what I can do for the community," "Although I had been suggested by others to become a teacher, I was not very keen on that option. My interest in becoming a teacher, however, became stronger by engaging with children through this program."