SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
KIM Sinhye “My Experience at Takahata Town”
Rikkyo University (Faculty of Social Welfare), where I am studying at, and Takahata Town (Yamagata Pref.) started “Takahata Project” as a corporation program in April 2001. In November 2010, we concluded the Friendship Agreement and we started communicating and exchanging our opinions in various ways. For example, we had practices, exercises, research and study in agricultural experiences.
Takahata Town is an agricultural town in the south-east of Yamagata Prefecture having 23,000 populations and famous for their “Delaware Grapes” which is major production in Japan. It is called “MAHOROBA no sato” (Mahoroba village). “Mahoroba” is an archaic word and means “a beautiful and livable village surrounded by mountains and having abundant crops”. When you get off at Takahata station, Yamagata Shin-kansen, you can see Iide Mountains in the south, Asahi mountains in the west and the Mt. Zao in the east. You can see also rich land of rice, vegetable and fruits.
I was posted to Takahata as an instructor in graduate school, Rikkyo University on June 19 and 20, 2019. It was a corporation program between Rikkyo University and Takahata High School. I had a special school and lesson to be discussed to the students who were elected for welfare course. Purpose of this program was to develop human resources who later would represent the communities in Yamagata municipalities in future.
On the first day, I lectured on “Basic social welfare” to around 50 students of second and third grade. I told them first about being catalyst and chosen the way to social welfare and explained how fun it is to learn it as students who enrolled themselves during first of April. I explained about present situation in Japan and South Korea and future issues on social welfare in both countries.
On the second day, in the class of “social welfare research” where research issues were set up by themselves, I lectured about my research, which I am proceeding now in graduate school. Then, six students of third grade presented their task-oriented research. There were variety of subject matter: solitary death, forced double suicide, taking care of elderly people, tourist information about Takahata, how to revitalize the area etc. We were interested in every topic and could deepen our discussions.
During my lecture, I told them about an aging society with a low birth rate, society where population is decreasing and city which can possibly extinct. One student commented “I have never thought of society with a low birthrate deeply and each of us have to think seriously, not as somebody else’s business. I would like to make an effort starts from our generation now. I thought it to be the first step to let other people feel sense of crisis.”
What I liked to convey most to high school students is: “social welfare” is not only an issue for elderly nor handicapped people and should be grasped “as if it is our own”. And I was impressed with students accepted my opinion thoroughly.
Another student described his impression writing “I had a feeling that Kim-san, you are so cool, researching and finding solution of an issue like suicide in both countries, Korea and Japan widely. I like to be a man who can contribute to the society facing social issues straightly.”
Such writing resonated in my chest and it was a good chance to consider the meaning of my research – the issue of suicide and its protective measure -.
Beside special lecture at Takahata High school, during my two days stay at councilor house of Takahata High School (ex-staff member of Takahata town office), I got to know a lot. For example, I enjoyed precious and unusual experiences like tea ceremony, kimono and work at grape farm. Also, I enjoyed visiting Kameoka Monju (Daisho-in) which is one of the three big Monju in Japan. (other two Monju are Abe-monju in Nara Pref. and Chion-in in Kyoto).
*“Monju” means transcendent wisdom.
They showed me sightseeing areas like Takahata winery, Tumewari
Sekitei Park (stone garden) and Akutu Yahata shrine. Those places
were very amusing to me.
Through my Research “Social Welfare”, I hope to continue my
exchange activities not only for both countries like Japan and Korea,
but also world-wide.
KIM_Sinhye / 2019 Raccoon
SGRA Kawaraban 654 in Japanese (Original)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala