Japanese Ashinaga Students Toured The US

For the second consecutive year, Ashinaga USA officially welcomed three Ashinaga students from Japan. The three students toured the US from New York City on February 21st , Boston on 23rd to Washington DC on 26th. All three are residents of Ashinaga’s Kokoro-Juku in Tokyo, a dormitory designed to accelerate college students’ academic, social, and moral education.
A non-profit organization called “NY de volunteer” organized a one-day volunteer experience for these three students. In the morning of February 22nd, the students went to Holy Apostles Church to provide meals to people experiencing homelessness. The Holy Apostles soup kitchen  is the biggest in New York City and the second biggest in the country. The “Juku” students joined about fifty other volunteers who had come to help, some on their own and some as part of a group. Volunteers performed different duties, from serving food to cleaning dishes. In the beginning, because of the language barrier, the Juku students had a difficult time participating fully. However, by the end, their faces were glowing with the joy of sharing and the sense of accomplishment. One of the students said, “This experience has changed my view towards people experiencing homelessness. They were quite open talking to me and they cheered me up.” By the end of the morning, the Juku students had helped serve 800 meals more.
In the afternoon, the Juku students went to a recreation center in Chinatown to participate in a program intended to introduce foreign cultures to domestic students. The Juku students taught local, elementary-school children about Japanese culture. The class started with teaching the American youngsters how to count and introduce themselves in Japanese. This was followed by lessons in  origami, the art of paper folding. The Juku students sat in between children and enjoyed games and origami with them. After the program, a staff member at the recreation center retold an interesting story about the program: When the young, American children were asked if they have ever traveled abroad, some of them said they had been to California or Chinatown. Hopefully, the lesson about Japan contributed to expanding the American children’s worldview.

Though it was only a one-day experience, students were able to catch a glimpse of volunteering in New York City, which is far different from volunteering in Japan.