Trip offers cultural experience

NANAIMO – Joshua Willis immersed himself in Japanese culture for a year as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange.

Joshua Willis says going to Japan as part of the Rotary Exchange Program was a great learning experience. Here he shows off a tea ceremony bowl and a secret box

Joshua Willis says going to Japan as part of the Rotary Exchange Program was a great learning experience. Here he shows off a tea ceremony bowl and a secret box

Joshua Willis immersed himself in Japanese culture for a year as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange and describes it as a learning experience.

He was in Kaisei town and Odawara city in the Kanagawa prefecture from August 2012 to this past July.

Willis did some research into Japanese culture, but unfortunately, the information he had was a little outdated, so there was a bit more culture shock than anticipated.

“I had lots of culture books that I read before I went but they were all from the ‘50s and ‘60s so when I went over there, things weren’t quite as polite. I’m like, ‘Oh! Someone littered. I didn’t know that anyone littered in Japan.’ There was no such notion in my head,” said Willis with a laugh, adding that he saw people speaking disrespectfully to older people, which also surprised him.

Willis had to learn Japanese and while he thought he knew a bit, in hindsight, he didn’t know any of the language at all. He learned the language during his stay with five host families and the first family was interesting from a linguistic standpoint.

“My host father was a professor at the University of Tokyo and his specialty was European history, focusing in the region between France and Germany, so he spoke French and German fluently and he spoke English fairly well … his wife, too, spoke a bit of French and German, not so much English, so it was a mix, we had the four languages (including Japanese) going at the same time,” Willis said.

While he was learning Japanese, Willis also had to experience a number of different aspects of Japanese culture that he wasn’t necessarily expecting to take part in.

“I wasn’t really into sports (in Canada) and one of my teachers got me into joining the judo club at school and so I was into that and I also joined the Sado club, the Japanese tea ceremony club, so I got to learn the culture through that as well,”  Willis said.

Willis’s year in Japan certainly left an impression on him. He says he is fairly fluent in Japanese now and can carry a conversation. He has plans to go back to Japan in January. He is working toward university through the North Island Distance Education School and has plans to take part in another exchange in university.

“Vancouver Island University has exchange programs with Japan as well and I might go during my second or third year there,” Willis said.

Rotary International said its youth exchange is meant to develop a sense of tolerance and understanding in youth toward other cultures with the aim of promoting world peace.

It is currently offering summer exchanges and one-year exchanges to a number of countries, such as Argentina, Taiwan, Thailand, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Chile and Columbia.

An information meeting is being held at the Rotary Field House on Third Street tomorrow (Sept. 18) at 7 p.m. Please call 250-390-2505 to learn more.

Just Posted

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read