In reminiscence of the 2009 Japan Airlines Scholarship Programme

Hi folks!

OMG I realised that I'd been to Japan for seven times already!! And Korea 5 times. Wow...!!!

Anyway, today I want to blog about this amazing Japan airlines programme. This was the essay I wrote when I represented Singapore as a scholar then, in 2009. I found it randomly on my hard drive while looking for something else. If you're in university currently, do apply for the JAL Scholarship programme! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, and everyone is so close to date still. ^_^
"My Impressions and what I had learnt during the 2009 JAL Scholarship Program
It has indeed been my pleasure to be part of the 2009 JAL Scholarship Program. The following are my reflections:

The first thing I had learnt is to live every moment without regrets. As scholars we are all thinking, at every single moment in our lives about the best possible decisions we can make in a particular context. Despite our differences, I believe all scholars really do have the similar goal of wanting to be happy and I was inspired by the way every scholar does his or her best to live life to the fullest with enthusiasm. A typical mundane bus-ride from a city to another for instance, was transformed by the sound of scholars all over the world singing as one voice to the accompaniment of the guitar. And even as the program had ended, I felt really bonded with the rest of the scholars. A part of their heart and energy stays with me for life, and it is because of them that I see that it is possible to live life so colorfully and without regrets.

Related to this is the realization that every scholar is beautiful in his or her own way. Motivated by the natural curiosity towards different cultures, yet constrained by the limits of time, I felt that I just wanted to appreciate the diversity present within this community fully. When we all appeared in our respective national costumes, I was wowed by the beauty, strength and richness of each culture. I liked the way we enjoyed ourselves through the various performances too; it showed how teamwork overrides cultural differences, and turns differences into a type of charm and diversity.
I was particularly inspired by the hospitality of the Japanese hosts. Every single time I visit Japan, I am always impressed by how polite and considerate Japanese people are. In particular, I love Ishikawa for the warmth the Japanese students exhibit towards us scholars. I find them really sincere and enthusiastic about embracing different cultures, and I am very grateful for them.

The next thing I had learnt is that, if all else fails, effective communication makes all things at least neutral. Communication may not make a person adore you, but it would at least remove misunderstandings from the equation. It was only through working with the various scholars during project discussions that I discovered this. Perhaps, most people do not realize this simple aspect when working out problems. I felt that I had developed patience as well, because even as everyone spoke English, we all had different accent too. I learnt more about the essence of communication, that is, having the heart to communicate is more important than the actual content itself. With the right intention, a lot of things can be put right.

I appreciate the lectures as well. My favorite lecture was the one by Rieko Suzuki, Chairperson of Millennium Promise Japan (MPJ), a non-profit organization. I felt that she was really passionate about the cause and people she is serving. Also, I was impressed by how approachable and open she was about volunteerism. She encourages students to act right now, contributing directly to the African community in whatever ways they can. I feel that the lecture was really relevant to the hearts of university students, as this passion is something I feel is missing back home.

The field trip to Ishikawa provided a refreshing alternative to the bustling city life of Tokyo. I felt as though I time-travelled to the Tokugawa era when I visited the quaint Sawara. I felt very blessed that I could view this part of Japan because the place is filled with the traditional Japanese essence. I love the open air hotspring experience too! Viewing the night sky with fellow scholars is one of the pretty scenes I would never forget in my entire life.

Once again, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that was given to me by JAL for this scholarship program. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I felt that I lived and loved every moment in Japan. Yet, I sincerely believe that every ending marks a new beginning. As I would be spending a year in Waseda University, I would love to help out in 2010 JAL Scholarship Program in any way I can, if I have this opportunity. Rock on! :)"