VIETNAM – JAPAN EXCHANGE PROGRAM 2019
Reporter: Lê Thị Kim Oanh
Ho Chi Minh City, 21st September 2019
My name is Kim Oanh, a Vietnamese participant of VJEP 2019. I was a junior when I filled in the application form to become a part of VJEP 2019. At that time, I just simply wanted to spend my free time somewhere on earth without expecting that I could have 2 unforgettable weeks as a huge milestone in my life so far. Perhaps, you are wondering what kind of program it was and why I appreciated the program that much.
VJEP 2019 has connected two and more communities so that the participants had more experience. 20 participants of VJEP 2019 are from 18 to 21 years old and all come from reputable universities in big cities as Tokyo or Ho Chi Minh City. Our majors vary as Economics, Law, International Business, Medical… which made VJEP 2019 diversified than ever. Many of us live happily with the family since we were born and never experienced any difficulties in their life before. Joining VJEP 2019, we lived in a remote area of Binh Phuoc Province named Bu Gia Map commune. Here we lived in a host family and then met the ethnic group of Stieng people, and they showed us their daily lifestyle as well as their hospitability.
Besides, we had a chance to visit Bu Gia Map national Park and went trekking through jungle 5km. During the trekking journey, many of us had fought against “monsters of the jungle” called leeches. That was an unforgettable memory for all participants. When the lunchtime came, local people cooked traditional meals for us such as “canh thục, cơm lam, gà nướng” (mixed vegetable soup of S’tieng people; bean sticky rice, roasted chicken) which we have never tried before.
After 5 hours trekking, we moved to the border stop to exchange with border guards who protect the shared border of Viet Nam and Cambodia. They live near the border without full access to everything of the outside world: inability to buy their stuff whenever they want. And they can visit their family once a month on the condition that they get permission from their commander. To be honest, I felt lucky as a member of VJEP 2019 because the area is the restricted area which I couldn’t get in if I went by myself.
VJEP has brought people of different generations closer and closer. As you know, VJEP participants are all university students while we met lots of people of all ages. In Dong Xoai City, we had joined the final round of the English eloquence competition held at Quang Trung Specialized and Gifted High School. There we met and formed 2 teams for exchange and debate about the relationship between tourism and the environment. Then we visited the start-up model of a young man planting roses and cay canh. The businessman showed us his garden with hundreds of species of roses and introduced its origin and characteristics. We were amazed by how hard it was to raise 1 single rose tree and learned how we could make profits from planting flowers. Especially, in Bu Gia Map district, VJEP visited Bu Gia Map primary school and taught them about the environment in one period. The students were super cute and excited about our lesson. We learned that to get young kids’ attention, we had to make lots of effort and trying to be kids first and telling them interesting stories.
Thanks to VJEP, we were able to interact with many people as well as listen to sharings of different generations about their life which helped us get overall perspectives about life.
VJEP 2019 is truly a firm bridge between Japanese and Vietnamese culture. Before the program, I had searched online Japanese culture, but I was so worried and wondered whether we had any conflicts during 2 weeks living in common houses. And the program was the answer to all of my worry and curiosity. 20 participants lived in common house, we shared the room, shared the space and time for each other. We had to adapt to the new environment as well as each other’s habits. I learned that I couldn’t be selfish or living the individualism as I was living in the tap. What’s more, we joined lantern making and traditional dish cooking class while we shared stories in each country. I knew more about life in Japan and vice versa. Organizers took us to museums and participated in the city tour so that we got a deeper understanding of Vietnamese history and daily life. VJEP is truly a cultural exchange program where all participants can experience new things by living with locals.
While joining VJEP, I treasured every moment we had together because I knew that it would be hard for all of us to stay in the common house once more. I lived the moment and respected all the people around me. Thanks to VJEP, I had new friends and changed myself to become a global citizen.
I wanted to send the deepest thank to Mr. Seki and all organizers who had sacrificed their personal time to make plans for the program and take care of us for 2 weeks.
Thank VJEP 2019 for being a part of my life.
Thanks, everyone for always staying by my side.