Japan Summer Service-Learning Program (JSSL) was held from July 3 to 31 in collaboration with Middlebury College (Vermont, US). This year as the fourth year, a total of 16 students; 6 students from SLAN Partners * in Thailand, the Philippines, and India, 4 students from Middlebury College and 6 ICU students participated in the program. The students engaged in supporting activities at farmers, elementary and junior high schools, and facilities for elderly adults in Mitaka City, Tokyo. They also experienced a five-day rural life in Tenryu Village, Nagano Prefecture.
In Mitaka's activities, they volunteered at elementary schools, welfare facilities, and parks near the campus. The students commented as; "People in the community treated me not as a participant who came from outside, but as a member of the community," "Although I don't understand Japanese, I was able to enjoy interaction and exercise with them not feeling a language barrier," "The community did a lot to me, and I thought how to give back to them was an important question of service-learning."
Another characteristic of this year's program is the oral history at Tenryu Village. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Linda White, an anthropologist at Middlebury College, we interviewed villagers about the history of the war. As the students say "I was shocked by the fact that workers were dispatched from China and the Philippines in Tenryu Village during the war. I felt it is important to pass on the story to the next generation," it was a valuable experience to learn about the history of the village.
Every year from June to August, ICU provides both domestic and international service-learning programs for students to be engaged in the community service activities. Service-Learning enable students to apply their academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to address the real community needs. The students are expected to deepen their learning through the practical experience and leverage gained insights to advance their academic learning journey further.
* Service-Learning Asia Network (SLAN): Since 2003, we have exchanged students every year for Service-Learning programs and study abroad programs for one term between partner schools and ICU. Our partner schools are Assumption University (Thailand), Silliman University (Philippines), and Union Christian College (India).