Rotary International District 5580 - to - Rotary International District 2760


Share our Excitement & Join our Journey

Welcome to the travel blog of Rotary District 5580's Group Study Exchange (GSE) Team which will embark on an exciting five week goodwill / vocational exchange to Nagoya, Japan in November, 2009.

Here, our hybrid American-Canadian team of enthusiastic and adventurous young professionals, along with our lovely, talented and fearless team leader, will share cultural experiences and engage in unique vocational learning opportunities.

If you have come to this site, you are likely: a Rotarian, family member, friend or colleague of one of the team members, or... are just plain blog-curious. Either way, we encourage you to check our site often to learn about us, follow our progress as a team and of course, keep in touch as we explore Japan.

We thank Rotary in advance for the adventure of a life time and to all readers, we invite you to share our excitement and join our journey.


GSE Team Japan 2009








GSEチーム ジャパン 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vocational Day (by Evonne and Rebecca)

This was the day of our tour that I was least looking forward to-- my daughter's birthday. As fate would have it the vocational tours today were all about homelessness (my vocation). And to my delight they extended the red carpet treatment to us a little bit further than we've grown accustomed to! We arrived at the City of Nagoya offices early Monday morning and had a conference with the city officials in charge of programming for people who are homeless in Nagoya. They had a comprehensive packet of information prepared for us and TRANSLATED (!!) into English! This packet included a history of the issue of homelessness in Japan along with current statistics on homelessness.

Homelessness is a rather new issue for Japan. The great recession of the 90's pushed the government to develop formalized programs for those experiencing homelessness as large tent villages were developing in the City parks. One of the largest tent villages was in Meijo Park, which is adjacent to the Nagoya Castle pictured below. The Meijo Park Shelter now exists to house homeless men and women. The facility is funded 100% by the City of Nagoya. According to the City officials there are no homeless families in Japan-- it's unheard of to consider children living on the streets. In reading between the lines it seems there are enough shelter spaces for the families with children that are experiencing homelessness so they are redirected into shelters. They also value prevention very highly and most families are prevented from ever becoming homeless through cash assistance from the government.

Japan enjoys a fully funded financial assistance program for those in need. Financial assistance is provided directly to families and individuals in need. To my surprise in Japan cash is paid directly to people living in poverty for rent, food, and monthly expenses. And there are no time limits on families or individuals receiving services. We later toured a shelter facility for singles and two facilities that housed singles and families. Rooms in the family shelter were small but consisted of a small living room, small dining room, and small kitchen. Futons were stored in large storage closests and rooms were converted into bedrooms at night. Famillies with young children had the option of renting a water heater which connected to the kitchen sink to bathe babies. Public bath facilities were otherwise available. Single adults stayed in dorms with 12 built-in bunks/storage areas.

I was impressed with the comprehensive approach to caring for people who are homeless taken by the Nagoya government. Even though this is a relatively new social issue, their response is comprehensive. Touring all three facilities and meeting with my shelter director counterpart here in Japan will undoubtedy be one of the longstanding highlights of this entire experience.

(By Evonne) A great day of vocational visits was arranged by our hosts. We visited a municipal welfare department and then some homeless shelters. The vocational hosts were very thorough and spent a great deal of time explaining the system in Japan. They were also very interested in our system and how it compares. Rebecca was able to give them lots of valuable information. This was definitely a great exchange.

We were treated to another bento lunch served at the Westin Nagoya Castle Hotel. the view of the castle right across from us was very impressive.

Our hosts took us a the oldest shrine in Nagoya. We were treated to several little girls dressed in kimonos. The tradition is for 3, 5, and 7 year olds to visit this shrine on their birthdays.

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