Duskin Leadership Training in Japan

Kamal's Final Report

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Final Report

I came to Japan as a trainee of the 5th Duskin Leadership Program on 22nd August, 2003.

As a social worker with no long experience abroad, I had a unique perspective for learning about social welfare system and status of persons with disabilities in Japan. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the people I met were just as interested in my organization, Nepalese disabled people, social welfare, culture etc as I was in theirs. Although my stay was only for10.5 months, it gave me a glimpse into the situation of disabled people of both developed and developing countries of Asia.

Before coming to Japan, I expressed an interest in topics relating to rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, computer technology for visually impaired people, vocational training, independent living, the Japanese educational system for disabled persons, as well as those more closely related to my profession.

Our training had been formally begun after the opening ceremony which was held on 1st of September. As soon as opening ceremony was over, we all were busy in studying Japanese Language for approximately 3 months and I studied Japanese Braille at the same time. Those 3 months went in such a way I even could not believe. As soon as our language class finished, I appeared the Japanese Language proficiency level examination that I had to face by Japanese Braille. Fortunately, the result was positive as I secured 327 out of 400.

As usual, our individual training began from December and I studied about Japanese laws and acts for persons with Disabilities with Professor Terashima in Information center of JSRPD. I also visited some organizations like Tokyo Helen Keller association, Library for the blind, where services for the blind are provided and materials are produced. I studied daisy from January for 2 weeks. Daisy was new for me and I was interested to develop my knowledge by knowing basic concept and by practicing it in making or preparing textbook for especially visually impaired people.

Besides, I went to “Yumanite of Kita Kyushu city of Fukuoka prefecture to study computer for 2 months from January 25th to March 25th. Though I was familiar with computer facility for the visually impaired people, I was not able to use it in Nepal before coming to Japan. I studied about using e-mail internet, MS word, MS excel, Online chatting, voice chatting, and some other things which are closely related to the basic use of computer. Owing to the massive use of this technology, the world has been smaller and the work has been quite faster and easier. The coordinator, teachers and other staffs of the mentioned organization were friendly and frank.

I went to Hamamatsu city of Shizuoka prefecture for my another training after completing the training in Fukuoka. I was given different ideas on shelter workshop during my stay in “With” organization, where persons with multiple disabilities, especially visually impaired people work. This organization has been working for the visually impaired people for 8 years. I learnt to transcribe into Braille, or Braille printing, making white can and many other things.

As I am involved in educational programs for visually impaired people, I expressed my interest on the education system of Japan for visually impaired people. I went to the Hiratsuka Prefectural School For The Blind in Yokohama and Tsukuba National School for The Blind. I was acting not only as a teacher but also as a student and was able to point out the differences in between the education system of Nepal and Japan for such people. I found the environment conducive for the students as all the teachers and staffs were friendly, as well as supportive. I was surprised that the students did all practical classes based on science and some of their major was science in High school level. As all facilities were available, it seemed they had no difficulties in taking science as their major subject and experimenting or taking practical classes. It was new to me that they were able to experiment all the things in a micro-level. I found many students studying massage and acupuncture as it is the reliable job for them till now. Some of them were studying music as their major subject and almost all of them are thinking of contributing the society in different ways. I came to know that these schools were similar in providing education though the basic criteria is differed to each other.

I attended many national and international conferences some times as a panelist, and some times as a speaker and even as a participant. International Symposium On Barrier Free broadcasting is one of them where I learnt about Barrier Free Broadcasting especially for persons with hard of hearing and as a radio journalist; I was really benefited by the program.

We were given very important leadership training when we entered the group training. I really enjoyed and that training was undoubtedly one of the best trainings provided during my stay over here. The instructor Mr. Ikezumi and his approaches were really significant to make that leadership training meaningful and interesting.

We all trainees of seven different countries were actively involved in conducting a symposium where we participated as a speaker and some time we also worked as a part of organizer. It was first time to conduct such a symposium on be half of all seven trainees of seven different countries under the guidance and co-operation of JSRPD. ” The symposium was held on 19th- 20th of June, 2004.

Japan has a long history, stretching back thousands of years to prehistoric times. The distinguishing characteristic of Japanese society is its mix of old and new. Through my visit to the Museum, I learned about the history of region in all time periods. yet many of the things of Meiji period or Edo period are still seen today..

I had chance to play many sports. ski, swimming and marathon and etc. During the last week of 2003, I was taken to the "Onsen and Ski” town of Echigo (Niigata prefecture) where I walked the beautiful Echigo gorge and visited various traditional spots. Though I am from the country, which is popularly known as the country of Mountains, like the highest peak of the world (Mt. Everest), I had no experience of playing with snow and doing Ski at all. When I was there with all staffs of the training section and all other trainees, I was really surprised by that interesting game in snow.

I was also allowed to spend one weekend with a Japanese family when the Ski was over. I went to Fujisawa city of Kanagawa prefecture. It was my first time to experience Japanese home stay. I stayed at the house of three Japanese families for almost 1 week. For me, it was one of the best experiences that I had. They really were very hospitable and kind. They taught me so many Japanese cultures and let me experienced it. Mrs. Igarashi treated me as a mother and I really forgot my country and relatives for one week as she was all for me and her presence, her way of thinking, her kindness and many other things were enough sufficient to make me feel easy and take her as my parents in Japan. My host family was extremely nice and I had a great time.

I would like to say a word of request to Duskin Ainowa Foundation and Japanese society For Rehabilitation Of Persons With Disabilities and concerns. To be honest with you, I applied to this training with the hope that it will be a mild-stone for me to work in the disability movement in a global way. But when I arrived Japan and spent some spare of time with JSRPD and concerns, I felt terribly difficulties to convert this training in to mild-stone because I was perplexed or confused about the objectives of the Duskin training. I thought the, training will be conducted in Japanese and English by understanding the need of the trainees as there was no thing mentioned about language in application form. I clearly mentioned in the application form that I know no thing about Japanese language at all before being selected as a trainee. When I came to Japan, I enjoyed three months because that period was for studying Japanese language not for learning or getting training by using Japanese language. We all trainees were prohibited to speak English to the staffs of JSRPD and gradually we were compelled to get training by Japanese language of only three months. Since the learning period of Japanese was not so long, any one can imagine that it is pretty hard to get training through Japanese. Especially for the visually impaired people, it is almost impossible to get training or to learn, if they can not understand what the teacher or instructors are saying. I meant, if they don’t understand what others are saying because of language barrier, they will know no thing more. Why I am saying it with confidence is because this is my own experience I had during my stay here.

I time and again mentioned them that it is difficult us to get training through Japanese but it was not heard by training section or let me say it was ignored at all.

Having realized these problems, as a trainee and as a well-wisher of Duskin, I would like to request all concern to re-thing in the following points;

  1. Duskin and training section of JSRPD should be clear about the objectives of the training. If the major objective is to provide Japanese language skills to the trainees, it should be designed in that way.
  2. Since the trainees are not from Japan, it should be provided through English for those who cannot get training only through Japanese.
  3. It should be clearly mentioned in the application form if training can not be provided through English.
  4. Materials should be provided to the visually impaired people in Braille
  5. There should be at least one in training section who knows Braille correctly.

Society has not taken account of the right of disabled people. We are not treated as equals with the same opportunities as so called non-disabled people on our own terms. Instead we are met by prejudice and discriminatory attitudes and legislation, preventing us from full and equal participation in society. The fundamental human rights of us are violated. This creates exclusion and marginalization, making a negative impact on our lives.

I think that my ten months stay in Japan was some how fruitful and hope it will certainly help me work with confidence by thinking globally. I feel now that everyone should visit Japan at least once. There are so many things to learn and the accessible and barrier free society is one of the major achievements in the field of disability in Asia. I believe that this training has changed the way I view the world. When I return to Nepal, it will make me stronger, more energetic and more committed to work in a global way. I would like to thank everyone including Duskin Ainowa Foundation, Japanese Society For Rehabilitation Of Persons With Disabilities, all other concern organizations and individuals, volunteers, for their efforts in making my ten months stay successful and meaningful.

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