Wednesday, 7 November 2012

International study tour in Tampere: visitors from Japan!


Autumn holiday week was filled with action when a group of six social work students and their professor from Shikoku Gakuin University in Japan came to Tampere to study Finnish social services and social work and get to know the Finnish culture. 
Japanese students Kumi Fujii, Saki Yoshihisa, Haruka Shiraishi, Erika Kaneko, Rina Sato and Mio Ido.

With guidance of TAMK social services teachers Ulla-Maija Koivula and Tapio Salomäki, three of us first year students and a present exchange student also from Shikoku Gakuin University visited altogether seven different places in Tampere area that provide services for different social groups for example youngsters, children, families, seniors and hospital patients. These visits consisted of lectures in English and also getting to know the premises and practices of the service places.

Visit to Kuusela service center for seniors took place at the end of their visit tour on Friday morning: the residents in Kuusela got to experience and try out old Japanese traditions as the students taught them to fold origami. 

Rina and Haruka teaching origami skills to Kuusela seniors.
The residents were seemingly excited and happy to have visitors all the way from Japan and to take part in action themselves. Even though they had no common language the students and the seniors were communicating with each other: plenty of smiles, laughs and hugs were exchanged. 


TAMK exchange student Haruka Isono teaching origami in Kuusela.




There were also some seniors who spoke fluent English with the Japanese. 

Our guests were also very keen to get to know and take part in the Finnish daily life. They got to spend time in Finnish homes on several occasions such as a welcoming dinner at Ulla-Maija’s home and an evening with the students at Eveliina’s home. Our visitors got to taste some traditional Finnish food, for example pyttipannu and mansikkarahka and in exchange we Finns got to taste Miso –soup, rice balls and different kinds of Japanese snacks. It was an interesting cultural encounter for everyone! 
Professor Mr. Nobuyuki Kataoka chatting in English with one of Kuusela seniors.
On Friday afternoon the official program finished with a forest trip to Helvetinjärvi nature reserve. We experienced a few surprises caused by the rainy Finnish autumn weather but luckily teamwork paid off. 
With teamwork we all managed to hike on a forest trail in Helvetinjärvi nature reserve!
At the campfire Professor Nobuyuki Kataoka summarised his experience being ‘120% satisfying’. He feels that for the students (for some of whom this study tour was their first visit abroad) it has been an empowering experience on surviving in a different country and culture.

Text: Sanni Kuikka

Photos: Sanni Kuikka and Eveliina Anttila

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