CAPTION: Kizuna student participants with Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Mr Eiichi Oshima, Solomon Islands High Commissioner, H.E. Mr Patteson Oti and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams.
115 participants from Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Papua New Guinea recently visited Japan in December last year under the Kizuna Project. The participants shared their experiences from their trip to Japan at a press conference held on 14 February 2013, at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Suva.
One of the participants, Sivnit Mudaliar, a student of the University of the South Pacific, who presented on behalf of the Fiji delegation, said that the Kizuna Project had empowered him in many ways which he could not fully comprehend. He described the trip as an “unforgettable learning experience.”
For students, Meleane Laimani and Solomon Kuku from Tonga and the Solomon Islands, the Kizuna Project was a chance of a lifetime not only to experience the unique Japanese culture, but also to learn about disaster prevention and disaster awareness.
Both participants spoke highly of Japan’s beautiful landscape, its friendly people and their great hospitality.
The Kizuna Project also led to a greater international involvement for one of the PNG participants, Nou Vada, whose presentation in Tokyo whilst on the Kizuna Project led to an invitation from the University Students Chamber of Japan to attend the 1st Pacific Islands Student Meeting in Tokyo from 16-23 March 2013.
The Kizuna (Bonds of Friendship) Project is a new initiative introduced last year by USP in partnership with the Government of Japan. It provides fully funded two-week study tours to Japan for selected high school and university students from 14 Pacific Island Countries.
The Project is aimed at building closer relations amongst the youths of Pacific Island Countries and Japan while also promoting the understanding of the recovery efforts after the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan in March 2011.
The Ambassador of Japan to Fiji, His Excellency Mr Eiichi Oshima expressed his deep appreciation to USP and its Kizuna Management Committee headed by USP’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration & Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams, for the implementation of the Project.
The 14 Pacific Island Countries that have participated in this Project are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A total of 315 high school and university students from these countries were selected to travel to Japan between September to December last year.
The overall program for the students included visits to selected universities, schools and centres, visits to some of Japan’s historical and cultural sites as well as visits to disaster areas in Miyagi, Ibaraki and Iwate Prefectures that were severely affected by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.
For many of the participants, the trip was an unforgettable learning experience especially in terms of disaster management and assisting in reconstruction efforts following a natural disaster. This was put in practice for some of the Kizuna participants from Tonga upon their return from Japan, who willingly assisted with the clean-up in Lautoka following the devastation by Cyclone Evan.