On the 19th of July, The Kanoya
International Exchange Association co-hosted
a 7 day in-country study program in
conjunction with the Kagoshima Prefecture
International Cooperation Youth Experience
Program called eLetfs Go to Laosf. The
purpose of this program is to allow youth
from Kagoshima prefecture to directly
experience the work done by Japanese
volunteer groups overseas as well as
deepening international ties through global
cooperation. We talked to 2 of the students
Ms Chigusa Tsuruno (Takakuma Junior High
School) and Ms Miku Tanaka (Kanoya Central
High School) who participated in the program
and asked them about their thoughts on Laos.
While you were in Laos you got to observe
Japanese volunteer groups in the workplace,
what were your impressions of their work
We were able to observe Japanese
volunteers working at a water purification
plant and a nursing centre. I was impressed
by their enthusiasm for their work and also
how they used their individual skills to
help people from other countries.
Tell us about your impressions of Laos
The roads in Laos arenft paved
and there are ducks and chickens roaming
around everywhere. There wasnft a shower at
my host familyfs house and I had to use a
bucket when I had a bath. I imagined that
this is how Japan used to be in the old
How was the food in Laos?
There was a lot of spicy food.
However the omelet that my host family made
me was delicious. I really missed Japanese
white rice and miso soup.
How did you communicate while you were in
I donft speak much English or Lao
so I ended up pointing at the phrase book
that we were given before we left. I also
used a lot of gestures.
After about 3 or 4 days though, I understood
basic everyday conversations. I also
realized the importance of English.
What surprised you most about Laos?
When a whole duck was served at
the dinner table!
In Laos the houses donft have wooden floors
or tatami mats like they do in Japan; their
floors are tiled. The schools over there
arenft like Japan where every student has
his/ her own desk. 3 or 4 children often
used the same desk in cramped classrooms and
it didnft seem like they used textbooks.
Also the childrenfs school uniforms were an
ethnic costume called a eshinf.
Tell us about a memorable experience you had
while you where there.
My host family decided to take me
to a local waterfall but instead of going by
car we all rode in a tractor.
What did you think about the Lao people?
Everyone was so kind and took
good care of me. Unlike Japanese people,
everyone over there was so relaxed, although
at times this annoyed me because even when I
needed to hurry nobody else seemed to care.
Also everyone was really friendly with their
After participating in this program what are
your feelings toward volunteer work?
Laos has its own culture, so I think rather
tying to push Japanese technology onto the
Lao people, the Japanese should try and
share their technology while at the same
time respecting the Lao culture.
Did you think about Japan while you were in
Of course in Laos we were
surrounded by Lao people but I became really
good friends with all the other Japanese
participants who were staying in my
neighborhood. I also became good friends
with all the other junior high and high
school students who participated from
I realized that here in Japan we have more
awareness around protecting the environment.
In Japan we separate our garbage properly
but over there people throw their garbage
into their front yard. Japan is a convenient
and easy country to live in although both
countries have their good and bad points.
How do you think will use your experiences
in Laos in the future?
In the future I hope to become a
doctor. By going to Laos I experienced the
lack of doctors in developing countries.
Because of this lack, a lot more people die
in Laos than in more advanced nations. If I
do become a doctor in the future I think I
would like to work in a developing country.
After seeing and learning about
Japanese volunteers in working in developing
countries Ifm thinking about joining the
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV)
and working as a specialist in the field of