Voice - Reflection from Sri KDU students (Hiroshima)

in June 6-12, 2010

Poster courtesy of Sekolah Sri KDU

Tan Ann Gee

Before visiting the Peace Memorial Museum, I thought that the bombing of Hiroshima was just another incident that happened during World War 2.

However, after the visit I realized how significant the incident is. Walking through the halls, I felt the tremendous impact of nuclear radiation on human life. It was then that I realized how lucky I am to be born in this generation ? to grow up in a peaceful environment and to have this chance to experience, through the artifacts in the museum, what the victims and survivors experienced.

The accounts from the A-bomb survivors affected me deeply and so strongly that I am now interested in nuclear issues. Previously, my interest focused only on human development issues.
I believe this trip has made me understand social issues better as it touched on the major aspects of human life and how international understanding can make life better for all.

Denise Lim

The homestay and school visit to Hiroshima was a comfortable and enjoyable experience with many fun activities. During our stay at the Hiroshima International Plaza, what I enjoyed most was the fun Japanese language course and interesting yukata-wearing course. Never had I imagined the Japanese language to be so musical or the traditional Japanese costume so complicated to wear yet so beautiful.

The Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima Island looked grand with its well-maintained walls and elaborate internal design. The Mount Misen World Heritage gave of an imposing feel perched on the top of the mountain range with its fierce guardians protecting the entrance.

My host family was warm, friendly and always smiling. We had all our meals together, eating Okasan's deliciously cooked food. We also visited the A-bomb museum while we were there. In the museum we saw morbid and gruesome images and models of the damage the atomic bomb inflicted on the peaceful city that was Hiroshima. Even though I may not set foot into the museum again, I will never forget the horrors and tragedy an atomic bomb can cause.

During the school visit, I noticed the Japanese school environment differs from the school environment in Malaysia. The environment in the Japanese school seemed to be more disciplined and calm although their disciplinary rules are more lenient. Overall, the trip was fun and intriguing. I have learned a lot about Japan in just the span of one very short week. My only regret is that the trip was too short to fully enjoy more aspects of Japanese culture ? it should have been longer.

Olivia Lee

The homestay in Japan was very fun, especially for me as it was my first time. I had only seen portrayal of Japanese life on the silver screen, not a first-hand experience. My homestay family graciously accepted me with open arms and even gave me a room to myself. I was very grateful for this gesture because I know that Japanese homes are quite cramped. They cooked a lot of food for me to make my stay more authentic and even took time off their busy schedule to play games with me at night.

My homestay brother and sister were very understanding for the sudden intrusion into their home. We tried our best to communicate despite the language barrier, with hand gestures and facial expressions. All in all, my friend Rachelle and I had a really memorable time.

We knew little about the effects the atomic bomb had on Hiroshima, but after the museum visit I am more aware of this critical part of history. It was saddening to see all the grief but heartening to know that Hiroshima has risen from the tragedy.

Rachelle Chee

The trips to Miyajima and the A-Bomb site were both very interesting though they showed different aspects of Hiroshima. The trips provided us with deeper insights and understanding of the culture and history of Japan. The visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum was the most appealing to me as it completely changed my perception about the dangers and effects of nuclear energy.

I was very glad and relieved to be placed in a home with a friendly family whose members were attentive towards us (Olivia and I) and made our short stay with them memorable. At first I felt nervous about visiting Itsukaichi High School and meeting people for the first time, and I was also concerned about the language barrier. However, my initial fears were allayed when the students showed initiative to learn our national language which was foreign to them. The World History class was very informative and we got to glimpse how classes are conducted in a Japanese school.

Goh Li Shuen

Upon arriving in Japan, the views were a feast for my eyes ? the flowers in bloom, roses so big and the spectacular landscape as we drove from Kansai to Hiroshima Prefecture. Another point worthy of note was the clean toilets at the rest stops.

We attended a 'basic Japanese' lesson so that we could use polite greetings. Since I have some basic knowledge of the language, the lesson was a breeze. It was really fun during the class and I got to exchange ideas during the simple conversations with the other students and the teachers. The bonus was meeting three Japanese friends around my age.

I used to think that wearing a kimono, let alone a yukata, is an easy task, but I was wrong ? wearing a yukata is harder than I thought! There are so many steps and the process is rather complicated. The flip-flops we wore were about 2 inches high and heavy. Walking in them while keeping your body straight is not as easy as you think.

Oysters for lunch ? my most sumptuous lunch ever. I bought some maple cake as it is very popular. Yes, maple cake not maple syrup.

During the first evening, Okasan took Denise, Goon May and I out for dinner. We had the okonomiyaki, the Japanese pancake. It was my first time eating it and it was a 10 out of 10! That night we joined the activities with my host family. We had so much fun and we soon got closer. Then we had to part the next day. The homestay should have been longer.

We came back exhausted but with a store of memories which will be hard to erase. I made many friends and will not forget Kishida-san.

Michelle Lum Sze Ming

This was my first time joining a homestay programme and a chance to experience the Japanese way of life. My host parents were kind and taught me things that I would not have known if not for staying with them.

My host mum is an English tutor. She gave us a warm welcome into her home. She celebrated our coming with a welcome party with her students. The next day she took us to the A-bomb museum. This visit increased my knowledge about Japanese history. I took many pictures and pray that the victims will reincarnate.

I also like the school visit because it gave me a chance to see how Japanese teachers teach and how students learn. I wish I will have another chance to visit Japan again.

Hong Goon May

This homestay and school visit to Hiroshima has been a lesson outside the traditional classroom. The experiences of living in a Japanese home, the contact with Japanese students in their school, visiting the museum and the stroll in Peace Park are all useful lessons to me.

The stories displayed in the A-bomb Museum were touching and made tears roll down my cheeks. As I listened to the audio provided, I felt how the survivors suffered and also what happened before, during and after the atomic bomb was released. It was very sad to see humans burning with pain from the heat and mothers trying to protect their children. From this museum I learnt that war brings no benefit to anyone.

The homestay - this I enjoyed the best of all. My host family, the Kamikawa family, was very kind. They welcomed me and showed me great hospitality. Okasan's cooking was delicious. Otosan was being very kind to us when he spoke in Japanese (he knows English) to make us learn more Japaneseā€¦ but Okasan was always there to translate for us!

Celene Yeap Jin Hui

Personally, I liked the school visit best.

Not only did the teacher welcome us when we entered the class, the students tried as best they could to communicate with us. Other than this, the students demonstrated Japanese calligraphy, which is slightly different from Chinese calligraphy which we are used to. More time should be spent in the school ? I didn't even have time to get any of their emails or anything with which to get in touch. Therefore, the school visit should be extended for us to get to know each other better and we don't have to rush here and there. Homestay is a very new experience to me. It provides an opportunity to get to know how our lifestyles differ.

I was a little disappointed as my host mother did not spend much time with me because she had her own three children to take care and it took up most of her time. My partner, Annette and I tried communicating with the siblings, but they were uncomfortable with us as they do not speak English and we, Japanese. On the bright side, my host mother prepared breakfast and dinner for both of us. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to my host family for accepting me and allowing me to stay at their home. I will still try and would love to keep in touch with them.

All the facts about Miyajima was in the Japanese language. Thankfully, we had Yoshimi to translate for us and her translation was very good. What caught my eye at this place was the freaking huge spoon! Never have I seen a spoon as big as this one. The audio aid allowed us to understand what was in Japanese. In my opinion it is wonderful to see how Hiroshima City can be such a busy and amazing place to live in today. Even though the visit to the museum was heart-breaking, I learnt about the sad history of Hiroshima.

All in all, it was a fun experience and I would love to participate if another programme similar to this is planned. Last but not least, I think we had a fantastic group leader, Mr. Kishida, as he really cared for us and tried his best to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. Thank you, Mr.Kishida.

Annette Chan

The school trip was too short and everything seemed rushed. I would suggest a two-day stint in a Japanese school. However, most of the students were friendly though some were shy as it was their first time meeting Malaysian students.
Shopping is something Japan is famous for. Unfortunately, we had no time to shop and we did not know malls close at 9.00p.m. and were asked to leave just as we arrived. In the end, nothing was bought. We spent a lot of time waiting for those who were not punctual. The trip was fun, but could have been better.

Anna Chan

I had always admired Japan but never had the chance to visit, so I talked to my parents and got their approval. In Miyajima, the scenery was so beautiful that I thought heaven must be jealous. Everyone I met was friendly as they greet strangers and let us into their homes. I really enjoyed the host family moments ? we ate mango ice-cream, took puri kura (Japanese photo machine) and talking, talkingā€¦ My host mother made me a bento which shocked me as Malaysian parents would just give their children money to buy food. I ate black natto for the first time and I know my host family was secretly laughing at me. They waited in anticipation as I took my first bite. It tasted normal to me and I told them that Malaysians have strong stomachs to digest food.

What broke my heart was that there was no time to go shopping. In conclusion, I did enjoy myself. I brought back memories even though I left Japan empty-handed except for the gifts from my host family.

Bryan Thor Yen Jin

In my opinion the homestay was the best and most integral part of the entire programme. My host family was very warm and welcoming. They were able to overlook my flaws and accept me as one of their own. I am indeed thankful to my host mother, Akiko-san, for offering me one of the best experiences I can ever hope to experience as a student.

The school visit allowed me to experience the Japanese school system which is different from the Malaysian system. The school made our visit enjoyable by allowing us to participate in their classes and activities.

The museum visit was, in my opinion, the most heart-wrenching part of the trip. There are no words to express the pain and suffering I felt for the victims of this terrible tragedy more than 60 years ago. On that day, life dealt them a galling blow.

The innocent people had no idea of the power and danger of the bomb that was to strike devastation into their hearts. Artifacts exhibited in the museum lend an air of credence to the stories of that fateful day. Indeed, this is a case of 'seeing is believing'. In my mind's eye I could see the suffering of the people as they desperately clung on to the last vestiges of life. The museum visit opened my eyes to the dangers that can be wrought upon us at any time. It has made me yearn for peace throughout the world.

To sum up, this is an extremely enlightening experience and one I will gladly experience all over again.

Goh Jane Yie

I like my homestay with my host family the best because everyone in the family treated me with kindness. The school visit was very new to me and I learned a lot.
In conclusion, I really had fun and deeply miss Japan.

Goh Lih Seng

I really enjoyed the homestay experience. I have been to Japan numerous times before this trip but I have never experienced Japan like this before. My host family, the Tamaoki family, were very friendly towards me. My host mother took care of me as if I was her own and fed me with delicious
Japanese cuisine.
I have made many friends from this trip and now keep in contact with them. It has been one of the happiest times of my life and I would definitely take part in such a programme again.