Duskin Leadership Training in Japan

Kumara's Final Report

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Final Report

I am Kumara.

I am from Sri Lanka. I am very happy to have learned many things from my training program sponsored by Duskin. Since August 23, 2001, the day I arrived in Japan, everyone connected with the Duskin Leadership Training Program has been very helpful, and I would like to thank everyone for the support extended to me.

Japanese Language Course

Right after I arrived in Japan, I learned Japanese for three months with other trainees. First I learned how to greet in Japanese, and after a while, I was able to speak the language. Thanks to good teachers, I acquired Japanese very quickly. The language course was a lot of fun because people from different countries learned the language from the very beginning. I think the teaching method was excellent. I enjoyed the classes and I understood everything easily.

I learned Japanese Braille from Ms. Kozue Handa. It was a bit different at first, but as I got used to it, I found it rather easy. There are different Brailles in different countries. Japanese Braille is quite different from Sri Lankan Braille. After one month of intensive study, I think I improved a lot. The braille teacher and I became good friends, and I think this is the reason why I was able to acquire Japanese Braille very quickly.

In the language course, I also learned how to use e-mail and a personal computer. The instructors were Koyama-sensei and Ito-sensei. During this short period of time, I learned a lot of things.I had never used a talking computer in Sri Lanka,but I found out about many features of a personal computer in this short period of time.I want to know more about computers.

I was impressed by the way Japanese teachers and instructors teach. They use little English when they teach Japanese little by little. I am glad to have acquired Japanese in just three months because it would take at least a year to be able to speak the language in Sri Lanka.

Individual Training

The individual training started in December. First I went to Koyukai, where I studied mainly music for about three weeks. I was given a new flute made in England, and my instructor taught me how to play it. At first I was a terrible player but soon I improved in my skill. I also received piano lessons and learned Japanese songs. I visited a lot of schools for the blind and gained much information, which I think was very important and useful.

After the training at Koyukai, I went skiing with other Duskin trainees. I touched snow for the very first time in my life. We enjoyed skiing a lot. The ski instructor was a nice person. I have many pleasant memories of this skiing holidays.

After the skiing I went to Hiroshima for a home stay during the holiday season. People I met there were very kind and friendly too. I tried making rice cake on New Year’s Day. They took me to Miyajima, Heiwa Koen, and other places of interest. I really had a good time. My Japanese family understood me well. They took a good care of me.

After the home stay, I went to a place called “With” in Hamamatsu to learn new things. “With” is a place where visually impaired people enjoy working with their hands. Here I learned about production of “hakujo” a white walking stick and Braille printing. I made a lot of friends there. With is now my second home. Shiba-san gave me various ideas. I also went to school with Kanaya-san and talked about Braille. Here I studied Japanese Braille and learned many jokes.

Although limited in vocabulary, we made a Japanese-Signhalese Braille dictionary. We also made a dictionary of Singhalese Braille and a regular dictionary for people with sight and those who want to learn braille in Sri Lanka.

I also made a music CD with a good flute player and a music tape with a professional keyboard player.

I appeared in a local newspaper in Hamamatsu. I had an interview with a reporter of a magazine for the visually impaired.

At “With” I worked with other people on such projects and as potpourri, business cards, and public relations. We had a chance to talk about many things. I hope to establish a vocational aid center just like “With” in my school. Shiba-san and other people understand well about the visually impaired, and they work hard for the welfare of the visually impaired. They are nice people. People at “With” loved me a lot, and I think I have become a considerate person as well. I felt very comfortable there. I made a white walking stick all by myself.

After the training in Hamamatsu, I studied at Asosia in Gifu for about one month. I learned about libraries and computers. People in Gifu were very kind, and they taught me many things. I worked in a workshop. There was a school for the blind next to the workshop. I visited the school. There were lots of machines in workshop, so the operation was quick. I regret that I did not learn more about the machines. Learning about the machines might have been difficult for me.

I attended a meeting of a finger braille club and a Powdered Green Tea club in Gifu. I was also featured in an audiotape magazine, published in Gifu, for the visually impaired. The training in Gifu was very important because I want to improve library services in Sri Lanka. The volunteers in Gifu were wonderful people. I was impressed because they offer service of their own free will without compensation. I think Japanese people like to give a hand to others. It is wonderful.

Then I went to Osaka and visited a number of places including some large facilities related to Light House. I learned that they print braille with a computer system. I also learned about guide dogs and libraries.

I learned about DAISY I never knew about daisy technology. I made a book written in Singhalese and Japanese. You can record a lot of information on a single CD from audiotapes. DAISY is an excellent technology.

After that I returned to Hamamatsu and resumed my training at “With.” I talked with Shiba-san and learned about many things. I thought that it was essential to improve my way of thinking. While cooking with Shiba-san, I learned how to use a knife. I had never realized that a visually impaired person could do so many things with various tools.

Then I visited Tsukuba School for the Blind. I studied teaching methods at the elementary and junior high schools. I met children suffering from fatigue. I gained a lot of knowledge here. School buildings for the blind in Japan are large with fewer students, so I think one could feel a little lonely.

At the end of my visual training, I learned how to use a computer from Suzuki-sensei. Now I am able to visit homepages on the internet and fix computer problems. I had a chance to talk with Suzuki-sensei freely and heard a lot of interesting things.

Group Training

After the individual training I attended the group training session and learned about education from leaders of people with disabilities in Japan. The leaders shared knowledge with each other. I had an opportunity to know more about other disabilities. We visited JICA, The Nippon Foundation, and many other institutions.

The trainees and leaders had a wonderful symposium. I would like to participate in an effort to build a network in the Asia-Pacific region. There were a lot of reference materials for people with sight but those for the visually impaired were limited. I was a little disappointed about this.


I am very glad to have come to Japan and made a lot of friends. I am also happy to have learned many things. People loved me a lot and gave a helping hand wherever I visited in Japan. I realized that even if you have disabilities, you can lead a comfortable life because you have a lot of love and people do care for you. I feel grateful for everyone. I am sure that everything that I learned and experienced in Japan will be very useful in my country. I am more than happy to have made so many pleasant memories and have met so many nice people.

Thank you very much.

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