Perfect Reminisce In Changing My Life
By: Christian Timothy Wijaya, Campers From Abroad – PRIC Japan, August 2011
I still remember at the welcoming fire, the host, Mr. Akiyama asked all campers the same question, “What do you want to achieve during this camp?” Then I answered, “Change of life!” It may sound as if I exaggerated about simple things, but here I will explain to you how this international camp changed my life.
Taking place in Japan, I realized that this country has rich and strong culture. I learnt a lot from the culture in Japan:the togetherness is the point which is so exciting to me. It started with the eating habit, all of us have to wait for all people to be sitting around the table, and then say “Itadakimas” which means we praise for all who prepared the food, and give thanks to the nature that provided us good food. After finishing eating, all of us will say “Gochisoo sama deshita” which has same idea with “Itadakimas”.
The idea of togetherness continued during the bath. The tradition of Japanese bath was a concern for all CFAs at the first time. At the first time we went to the public bath, personally I fell embarrassed. I also remember Khiew, Malaysian camper said, “Bye-bye virginity” before the bath. We laughed, and it melted our worries. After finishing the bath, Shuhei, one of the staff, told me that even though we were shy at first, but then during the bath we were chatting, talking, and the process made us know each other more.
The culture which is so different from the place where I live is the discipline of every person in Japan. I could see their discipline from small things, such as the way they line up on the escalator, and their time management which is perfect to me.
Working hard is one of the great cultures that I found in Japan. A real example is Yusuke, my friend in group R. He always studied mathematics during the camp, he used the free time to study, what a diligent boy.
Being at one with nature during the camp in Takato with no phone signal made me realize that earth is so beautiful. I remembered the point when I flew over Borneo Island, and watched the deforestation happening there. How humans somehow forget to keep the sustainability of nature. Related with sustainability, we had a serious discussion during the camp, which is so important for the Japanese and all campers. We discussed about the biggest earthquake in the history of mankind that happened in Japan on March, 11th.
In the discussion we talked about the emotional impact of the earthquake on Japan and what foreign counties did to support Japan, how could Japan recover very soon, and the most important topic is how human relationship with nature is. From the discussion, I learnt that nature is so much stronger than human, and as human beings we have to keep our nature in good condition.
Cleanliness in Japan is one aspect that I adore. Compared with Indonesia, it is far better in Japan. By having four separations of rubbish, those are: plastics, PET bottles, cans, and combustible rubbish, I could feel the responsibilities from each Japanese to keep their area clean. I almost never found any rubbish which is not in the proper place.
Good food, good health, that is what I felt during the Japan experience. All of the food there is very nice, tasty, well presented, and surely healthy. My favorite foods are tuna sushi, karagee, and ramen.
Being in a group of students from all around the world is always exciting. Somehow it seemed like I rebuilt my pride for being an Indonesian. In the third morning gathering, I had to introduce my national flag and my national anthem. At the point when I sang Indonesia Raya, I felt so much pride for being the representative of Indonesia. The pride became bigger when I explained about my flag.
The day came when CFAs had to give a presentation about each of their countries. I felt so nervous at that time, since it would be my first time doing a traditional dance in front of an international audience. I had prepared the best and then my turn came.
I started my presentation with greeting in my language, “Selamat pagi” which means good morning and I proceededto tell them the story of a farmer and his two sons. In the middle of my story, I did the Gandrung Banyuwangi dance. After finishing my dance, I told them more about the farmer story which shows the spirit of sharing from Indonesia. Then, I came up with the seven geographical and cultural and physical features which only could be found together in Indonesia. A lot of questions were asked from my presentation, and I felt honored to be standingthere and introducing my country to them.
By the end of all presentations, some of the campers greeted me in my language, and started to ask me another phrase in Bahasa. I felt great and successful enough to present about my beloved country.
Having international groups is not my first experience since I had felt it last year during volunteering in Newcastle, but the groups here felt so different since they came from Pacific countries. Understanding each country’s culture, and the way they could communicate, broadened my thinking. I realized that the world is so big, so much bigger than I ever thought.
Even though we came from different parts of the world, I found out one similarity: that all people want to be treated and respected well. The real experience about it was that some Japanese might not be able to speak English well, but when we talked to them politely and tried to understand them, they felt worthier. It was the same feeling for allCFAs. We could not understand Japanese, but when CFJ came to us, and talked to us in English, even though their English is not perfect, we felt better.
These differences and the way we respected each other taught me that all people, wherever we come from, whatever language we speak, and whenever we were born, we will always be happy when others give us a smile and treat us well.
The time when we arrived at Takato Youth Centre, all staff and CFJs had lined up, and then a song titled “One Tribe” from Black Eyed Peas played. They welcomed us with a dance and by the end of their dance, they grabbed us to dance with them. The dance was like a bonding exercise for us. It enabled us to get along easier.
The camp would be full of activities with a tight schedule. We were divided into four groups, and I was member of group R, with Michael from USA, Martin from Hong Kong, and four CFJs: Koki, Yusuke, Raiki, and Kenshi. The first job for us was the team flag making, it was so interesting since we gathered all aspects of each country in our flag.
There was a competition named PRIC Olympics during the camp, and surely all teams wanted to win the Olympics. The Olympics consists of four competitions: Games and Sport, Orienteering, Canoeing, and Outdoor Cooking. In the first competition, my team lost since most of us were small physically if we compared with other groups.
Group R counselor was Alan Motus from Philippines; he had already given us some training and strategies for the orienteering. Then, a conflict came up in our group. One of the members felt that he was too weak and maybe could not do the orienteering activity. Honestly, I felt disappointed with him. We debated it, then we arrived at a point that as long as we did our best, we could have the same feeling as winning.
After doing our best in the orienteering we were surprised about the result, we were in the first place of the orienteering activity.
In the middle of the camp, we had an event called Camper’s Theatre. Here, each of us was asked to perform our “art side”. All of us were surprised not only by the talents of the campers, but also the staff. The event started well with a humorous performance. In the middle of the show, again we were surprised by the performance of a nice beat box. And it ended by the Macarena dance from USA. We really had fun there.
The competition continued with canoeing. We could not be the best there, but we still had a chance to finish in the first position of the PRIC Olympics if we could win the Outdoor Cooking activity. The night before the competition, we were given a list of ingredients and we planned what would we cook with a concept,” When East Meets West”. We prepared and cooked and presented according to the plan; we followed the job description; and we just did our best. Then we waited for the results.
In the closing ceremony, the staff announced that group R and group C became the joint winners of PRIC Olympics. From our winning, I learnt that preparation is so important. Failing to prepare means failing to do the best. But, in my opinion, this camp was not about the competition, the competition was just part of it which made us become friends and taught us to work together.
The understanding that I hold now is leadership is not a position. It is an attitude which makes us different from others. The arguing between my team seemed nothing by the end of the camp; we all knew that we could do far better than our limits when we believed in the team.
The journey from Tokyo to Nishikatsura took 2 hours. When I arrived there and saw the beautiful landscape; I knew it would be great to spend four days there. In the welcoming ceremony, all CFAs sat down in the front row facing all of the host families. We introduced ourselves and our countries, and then they introduced which familywe would stay with.
My host family was the Watanabe family, and I shared my family with Martin, from Hong Kong. My family consisted of grandmother, father, mother, and two beautiful daughters, named Natsumi (11 years old) and Yumi (6 years old). They were really nice to us, even though only the mother could speak English, but all of them tried to communicate with us.
The first dinner with my family, they took us into a sushi restaurant. There, I enjoyed the first sushi experience in Japan. I ate six plates of sushi plus one bowl of soba noodles. The thing that amazed me was that I ate less than Yumi! She ate 7 plates of sushi plus 2 bowls of soup. Ha! All of us were happy that night.
The second day we went to Mount Fuji. On the way there, I sat next to Yumi, it seemed like nothing to do beside her. But then, we started to play “Jangkempo”, a Japanese paper, stone, and scissor game. Then I realized, the point when we played, we communicated. The playing activities broke down the language and age barrier.
After finding the way to solve language problem, we played every time we could. One of the nicest moments waswhen I could solve 300 pieces of jigsaw puzzle with Yumi. She is just a six years old girl, but her perseverance combined with my experience solving the puzzle, and both of us were so happy when we put the last piece of the puzzle in place.
The hospitality of my host family made me feel like I was in my own home with my own family. We had breakfast every morning; we played games until late at night; and shared our experiences. With care among us, language wasno more an issue for us.
All the experiences from this camp were such a privilege for me. Being the only representative from my country, andtaking “the name” of Indonesia was already a big honor for me. When I was selected as the representative of all campers to give a speech in the farewell dinner was a huge honor for me. The chance to give a speech was like atopping to complete all the great experiences of the camp.
I am so appreciative to PRIC organization, its Indonesian alumni, the Japanese hosts, and my fellow campers for this opportunity which I will remember for the rest of my life.
When I reflect what I learnt most from this entire experience, it is that, even though we were from different backgrounds and cultures the common language we found was play. With so much conflict in the world today,could my learning point be the answer for the future of our world?