Duskin Leadership Training in Japan

Ou's Final Report

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Final Report


I came to Japan at the end of August 2001 as a trainee of the 3rd Duskin Asia Pacific Leadership Training Program in Japan.

This program was started in 1999 for persons with disabilities in Asia. The year 2001 had 9 trainees from 9 countries- China, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Mongolia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Although we were from different countries, we felt as if we had known one another for many years from the time we first met. It was probably because we shared the same experiences as persons with disabilities. In the first orientation week, we learned about Japanese traditions and customs and went to Edo-Tokyo Museum and sports center for persons with disabilities. As I had never lived abroad, I eagerly looked forward to my year of studying and living in Japan very much.

Memories from the training period

Our training program consists of three parts. After the opening ceremony on September 3, Japanese training began. As I had a little knowledge of Japanese, I entered intermediate class. I felt that the more I studied Japanese, the more difficult it became. At first I hardly understood what my teacher was saying even though I listened to him very carefully. But as I watched TV programs and new every day, talked with friends, and got used to life in Japan, my Japanese gradually improved. We had opportunities to attend various persons with disabilities’ meetings and events organized by the supporting groups, such as Hands for Light tea party for persons with visual impairments and the 10th Disabled People’s International Commemorative Ceremony. In November I gave a speech in Japanese for the first time at the 7th Challenged Japan Forum 2001 International Convention in Mie Prefecture. Although my Japanese was not good enough then, I managed to wing it. On November 29, we gave a presentation on Japanese language training and then each of us started an individual program. Hoping to study Japanese welfare system, welfare facility management, and education for persons with visual impairments, I was able to study at Tsukuba University’s institute of Disability Sciences and Tokyo Support Center for persons with visual impairments. At Tsukuba University, I took a class to study teaching methods for persons with visual impairments and learned how to assist them to live independently. I also read many books. I did research on the support system for persons with visual impairments to go to the university and wrote a report on this theme in Chinese.

In today’s China, very few persons with visual impairments go to the university, so I hope to make the best use of my experiences in this area when I return. On March 9, Prof. Toriyama, my direct supervisor, and I gave a presentation entitled “The current situation on higher education for the persons with visual impairments in China” using 8 posters. What I appreciated most during my study at Tsukuba was that I could go to the library. It was incredible to be able to read printed books with an image-enlarging video system just like persons without disabilities. I was really excited as I loved reading and always wanted to read books.

At Tokyo Support Center for persons with visual impairments, I studied how to assist persons with acquired blindness in the mobility training and the rehabilitation stage, such as exchanging information via PC. I also read books and listened to lectures on the development of Japanese welfare and social security systems and their characteristics. I thought it would be of great use when I returned home and work.

I visited various facilities for persons with disabilities throughout the country during my individual training period including Light Friend Association (Koyukai), a facility for persons with disabilities, (Kanagawa Workshop, “Shounan Kibou no Sato”) in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa prefecture, Yokohama Christian School and Home for persons with visual impairments, Japan Braille Library, Japan Vocational Training Center for persons with visual impairments, Tsukuba University School for the Blind, Nippon Lighthouse Welfare Center for the Blind, Kobe Nursing Home for the Blind, Kobe Eye Light Association, The Union of Volunteer Groups on Transcription on Braille and JBS Japan Welfare Broadcasting.

It was a great opportunity to talk to and learn from facility staff directly, which helped deepen my understanding. During the last three weeks of my individual training period, I learned Digital Accessible Information System(DAISY) technology. I assume digitally recorded books are probably not yet available in China at present, so if I have a chance, I would like to work on promoting the use of this technology and build an audio library.

What I was most impressed with in Japan is the high level of volunteer activities. In particular, efforts have been made by volunteers to help transcribe Braille for decades. Today, persons with visual impairments can take university entrance exams and other certification exams in Braille in this country. It makes it easy for them to receive higher education and find employment. I think it is such volunteer supports that enable the development of welfare services in Japan.

I was also impressed by the popularity of PCs among persons with visual impairments and the development of audio software. I hear that a relatively large number of persons with visual impairments use a PC to write, send email and surf the Internet. Moreover, I was told that those who have good skills using a PC can function like persons without disabilities. During the group training period which started on June 10, the other trainees and I were lectured on such themes as persons with disabilities’ movement and leadership. We visited Diet Members’ Building Japan Foundation, JICA and gathered much information. Thanks to these experiences, I could gain confidence in what I will do in the future.

Other memories

I have many good memories other than those from training. To mention a few, I went skiing with the other trainees in December. Although the ski trip was as short a stay as only 3 days, our coach taught us very intensely and I was able to ski quite well. I felt like a bird when I skied down the mountain and it was a wonderful feeling.

During the New Year holiday, I stayed with Mr. Ito family in Tokyo. They were very kind to me. Mother Ito let me wear a kimono and we all went to a shrine. They also took me to Ginza and Odaiba. I was treated to delicious food. It was wonderful to experience traditional Japanese New Year’s customs. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Since August 26, just after my arrival in Japan, I have been joining the Achilles persons with disabilities’ marathon practices at Yoyogi Park on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. I participated in the Turtle Marathon on March 31 and it was my first challenge to complete a long distance run. And at the 2nd Tsuchiura Marathon’s B2 5-Kilo Marathon for the 34-year-old persons with visual impairments, I came in first place! I had never run before I came to Japan, but now I like running very much. When I go back to my home town, Shenyang, I will form a marathon team like the Achilles persons with disabilities’ marathon and organize a marathon, to which I hope to invite Japanese friends to run with me.


I made many friends during my stay in Japan and that is what I treasure the most. I think human beings can not do much by themselves. When you have friends, you are happy and not lonesome. You can also fell confident. I hope to work with my friends to enhance communication between persons with disabilities in Japan and China.

Time flies so fast when you are having a good time. As I am getting closer to my departure, I gradually feel sad. I have seen and done so many things during the training period. My Japanese has improved little by little. Various experiences have deepened my knowledge and broadened my horizon. I have become more confident in myself. These 11 months have truly been a valuable time for me and I will miss Japan.

I want to thank deeply the Duskin people for their support, people at JSRPD for the time they took to assist me, and all the people who helped me during my stay. I am determined to work hard to reciprocate their kindness and love.

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