While making preparations for this final report, memories of one-year experiences in Japan have come vividly to my mind. I'm going to speak now to those I have come to know during my stay, about what I have felt and studied andhow I have been changed as compared to myself one year ago.
All of the trainees got a three-months-long language training in Japanese before individual trainings began. I've had the following impressions. Firstly, how fast one can master Japanese seem to rely on which country he/she come from. Concretely speaking, those trainees from Myanmar, Mongolia or South Korea seem to be able to master Japanese faster than the others because their mother tongues resemble Japanese in grammar. If this language training is mainly designed to improve the trainees' ability of understanding and speaking Japanese, I think they should be separated into two groups depending on their level and the class would work better. Secondly, as we had a fairly much free time during this training, I wished if I could study Japanese sign language. In the individual training, I came to know many Japanese people with hearing impairment, but couldn't speak with them and felt very sorry for that.
I had a training in the Mainstream Association for about four months from Dec. 8 in 2000 to March 30 this year. I have lots of memories there. It was the best training site to me as it gave a chance to rethink what I am and how I should live, the best and most important effect to me. I studied the following: 1. History of disability movements in Japan, 2. Concept of disabled people's independent living, 3. Attendant care system in Japan, 4. Public assistance system, 5. History and management of the Mainstream Associ-ation, 6. Management and works of an independent living center, 7. How to make disability-related events, 8. Independent living of a severely disabled person. I appreciate all what I have studied, but the most important thing was that I could have many friends there.
Had a one-week training from May 22 to 28. A conclusive training to study an independent life together with Ampol and Meehong who had studied the Japan's independent living movement. We had a talk with the staff of Humancare Association about what we had studied until then, also participated in a peer-counseling program to see its know-how or to understand how the participants really felt about peer-counseling. What impressed me most was that 98 independent living centers in Japan had a bilateral character, that is, they are doing businesses as well as political movements. In South Korea, there are few that are doing any business. Disability organization, I think, should ideally be engaged both in movement and in business, so I was very glad to see the realization of my ideal here in Japan. Also impressive was the fact that the Mainstream Association and the Humancare Association are fairly different in terms of management style. Each organization has found the best suited way to itself. It must be useful to us.
I had a computer training in Hitachi for opening a web site. It ended in only three days, so not quite satisfactory for me, but I felt it of some use to the betterment of my web site I had opened for a certain event I have been making preparations for.
In the last summary training, I felt happy to talk with all of the trainees, particularly had an impressive talk with Rafeel and Garu. Also I could study much from the leadership training and the Project Proposal program run by Kawamura.
We visited the main office of Duskin Co., enjoyed the Universal Studio Japan and visited "Taiyo-no-ie" in Oita, an institution for disabled people. Then we went to Kumamoto to ride in a baloon. Everyone of us was looking forward to balloon riding, so got up early in the morning, even in 4'o clock, but it rained heavily to enable us to ride. We went to the perfume museum instead. We trainees were given a discussion to decide the schedule of the day off balloon riding. As it became impossible because of rain, we had a discussion where to go. During this I could realize how incompetent I am for that kind of task. Every trainee had his/her original idea and it was so difficult to settle the dispute. I felt it necessary to put myself in another person's place in order to understand his /her thought. When taking a bath together and talking with the other trainees, I really missed those days that had past this year. Thinking that I have to part with all these friends soon makes me feel very lonely.
I have stopped "trying hard" here in Japan. It doesn't mean I've neglected studies, but I've given up trying hard to walk for myself. I can go anywhere by using a wheelchair instead, this would save both time and energy. The second, but the biggest change I have had during this stay is that I have come to think of my disability not a shame. I enjoyed my stay in Japan very much. I could have experiences of playing skiing, swimming, using an electric wheelchair, going out on a manual wheelchair, playing "kendama" and diving, all for the first time in my life. Everything was exciting. I hope to play any of them together with them in the near future.
I think it a good thing that disabled people of 10 countries with different backgrounds, disabilities and thoughts could live and study together, and understand one another. This training program provided by Duskin, different from JICA's, seems to be designed to educate young people and extend their possibility. I think JICA's program is the one to offer professional training to those who are already working in the disability-related sector. I hope this characteristic of Duskin's program will be maintained in future. I really appreciate Duskin's fiscal aid and other various kinds of helps you have given us. Without Duskin's and JSRPD's aid, we could never get such a fruitful training here. It gave me many good effects. So I hope this program will continue and become larger hereafter.
Now I make some proposals with a hope for this program to become even a better one. First, I want more opportunities for the trainees and the staff to talk with and understand each other. One overall meeting per month will be enough. Although there may be obstacles to that kind of meeting, I think the most important thing is to build confidence between them.
Secondly, I'd like to have more alternatives about where to get an individual training. If more information about disability centers and institutions in Japan are given to us during the period of language training, I could be able to make decisions more satisfactorily.
By the way, I'm now most concerned about how the trainees would go along after returning to their countries. One year stay in Japan will make them feel it difficult to live in the totally different surroundings at first. In Indonesia a finger language is not popular, so Galuh cannot tell freely what he thinks with his fingers as in Japan. Meehong and Ampol will not be able to go anywhere and anytime because of mobility problems. Aunko, Veronica and Zhuang Li will find it more difficult to get information than in Japan. Of course I feel a little uneasy what will happen to myself when returning home.
Now the last comment on how I have been changed during this one year in JapanDo I look changed? Do you remember how I was when I read a paper on my country or when I made a report in Japanese? Now I am enough proud of myself. Not a self-praise. I'm sure to be enough able to do something. Of course I cannot do anything I want to do. But I've come to be able to think I can accomplish something if I keep on trying with a pride in mind. Also I have at last got rid of feeling ashamed of my disability. I'm going to participate in the TRY 2001 and walk without an artificial leg. My parents would be angry to it. But I will do it. Such an idea has never come to my mind before. I think in these two points I am not what I was a year ago. I thank all the people in Japan who have contributed to my change from the bottom of my heart.