From December 14-22, LUISS students Chiara Filipello, Stefania Montagna and Asvero D'Eugenio spent a week in Japan thanks to the MIRAI 2016 Winter Program, an international exchange program that offers 80 European students the opportunity to experience the Land of the Rising Sun and spread its culture and traditions.
Organized by MOFA, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with JICE (Japan International Cooperation Center) and EFIL (European Federation for Intercultural Learning), the project allowed three of our Political Science and International Relations students to explore cities and local cultures from a point of view that tourists don't always get to see.
"We didn't know about the program before participating," explains Stefania, a first-year International Relations student. "I took a test during Professor Raffaele Marchetti's course, where I indicated, among other preferences, that I was interested in Japan. We received details about the program and various initiatives after we were informed that we had been selected: the MIRAI program invites all participants to document our days online and offline, through social media and conversations with friends and parents. Some of us even wrote articles for a community blog."
In a week, the students experienced life in the cities and universities as well as the traditions and history of Japanese culture. "The program blends tourism with educational activities. We traveled around Tokyo and Kyoto, then visited the universities of Waseda and Kyoto where we met students our age and participated in lessons on current Japanese politics and economics with the youngest members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The experience that I most appreciated was our visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial where we spoke with a survivor and participated in an ancient Urasenke tea ceremony."
Traveling far from home doesn't merely increase your knowledge of the world, but it teaches you to seek out and build new experiences. "The experience opened my eyes towards the East," concludes Stefania, "and it made me want to visit for a longer period of time or for my studies. The experience really helped me to overcome Japanese clichés and open my mind to the country's rich traditions and ideas."