China-Japan-Korea SERVE Initiative 2017 (1-12 August 2017)

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From 1 through 12 August, Kyoto University and three overseas partners -- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU); Peking University, China; and Ewha Womans University, Korea -- jointly held a summer program, the China-Japan-Korea SERVE Initiative 2017. The inaugural CJK Initiative took place at Kyoto University with 56 participants -- 18 from PolyU, nine from Peking, 10 from Ewha, and 19 from Kyoto.

The first day was devoted to a tour of Kobe, where the students learned about natural disasters and recovery efforts by visiting the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution. The students also visited areas affected by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

They attended an orientation and lectures on 2 August, and then split into five groups to work on "communities and the elderly" projects. Each group spent the next eight days in one of five locations: the town of Seika (a part of Kansai Science City), the Miyama district of the city of Nantan, the city of Kyoto, the city of Miyazu, and the city of Sabae. All locations are in Kyoto Prefecture except Kabae City, which is in Fukui Prefecture. Activities included organizing workshops and events, and making policy proposals to mayors, all in cooperation with local residents and governments.

The students reported on these projects 11 August in front of two KU executive vice-presidents -- Dr Masao Kitano (education, information infrastructure, and evaluation) and Dr Shinsuke Kawazoe (student affairs and library services), both of whom listened intently to the presentations.

Feedback from the international participants included the following. "I was impressed by the way Japan's senior citizens seemed to value personal bonds and opportunities to connect with younger generations; they didn't at all appear to be a burden on society," stressed a PolyU student. "The CJK Initiative has taught me invaluable lessons on how to make friends across cultural and historical differences," stated an Ewha student. A student from Peking University commented, "I now feel closer than ever to Japan and Korea, and am highly motivated to study the languages and cultures of these countries."

A participant from Kyoto, meanwhile, commented, "What's most memorable about the program, for me, is that students from different countries all made proposals on how to improve Japan's local communities, and local residents joined us to discuss these ideas in earnest."

The 2017 CJK Initiative was held in association with the University Social Responsibility Network (USRN), of which Kyoto U is a member.

Interacting with local residents

Making proposals to local people

Exhibition on the "communities and the elderly" projects

With EVP Kitano (left) at the closing ceremony

Program participants

Participants and partners

  • Participating universities:
    Kyoto University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Peking University, and Ewha Woman's University
  • Planning and coordination:
    Education and Research Unit for Regional Alliances, Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research (C-PiER), Kyoto University
  • Administration:
    Educational Planning Division, Education Promotion and Student Support Department, Kyoto University
  • Contributing KU faculty:
    - Katsutada Takahashi, Professor, Education and Research Unit for Regional Alliances, C-PiER (Kansai Science City program)
    - Naoko Tokuchi, Professor, Field Science Education and Research Center (Miyama program)
    - Misuzu Asari, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies (Kyoto and Sabae programs)
    - Kazuo Ando, Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS, Miyazu program)
    - Yoshio Akamatsu, Affiliated Researcher, CSEAS (Miyazu program)
    - Yuichi Imanaka, Professor, Graduate School of Medicine (lectures)
    - Masayuki Watanabe, Program-Specific Lecturer, Education and Research Unit for Regional Alliances, C-PiER (coordination)
    - Guo Xiaobo, Program-Specific Assistant Professor, Education and Research Unit for Regional Alliances, C-PiER (coordination)

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