Recently, ten Ukrainian evacuee students arrived safely in Japan via neighbouring Poland. The ten students who came to Japan are women in their late teens and twenties. All have studied Japanese at Ukrainian universities and Japanese language schools.
The orientation started during the three days of hotel isolation. Pathways Japan (PJ) believes that it is important to inform international students who come to Japan with hopes and expectations about the harsh realities of living in Japanese society and the challenges they will face. PJ conducts post-arrival orientation session with the belief that “adjusting their expectations” will help them make a smooth transition into the new society.
The orientation covered topics such as Japanese society (e.g. the concept of ‘the world’), disaster preparedness, mental health, finding a part-time job, the reality of victimisation of women and where to go for emergency advice, over a period of five days.
In particular, the participants were informed about the discrimination against women and the reality of vicious crimes against them in Japan, in response to incidents of women being targeted and involved in human trafficking during the evacuation from Ukraine. The participants also talked in detail about harassment and train molestation, which they may experience on a daily basis because they are women, and how to respond if they are victims of such harassment or molestation.
In addition, members of the Ukrainian community in Japan “KRAIANY” were asked to share their experiences and what they need to know about living in Japanese society.
A reception held on the last day of the orientation session, welcomed the international students with the participation of about 35 people from partner universities, Japanese language schools, the government, companies and members of the Ukrainian community in Japan.
The international students spoke in Japanese about their current feelings. Despite being nervous, they spoke well in the Japanese they had learned so far. Here are some examples.
“On the morning of 24 February, everything changed. I realised that it was the beginning of the war. I was a university student and I could no longer study. When I heard about the Pathways Japan programme, I thought this was my chance. I am very grateful to everyone who gave me this opportunity.”
“From the day I started studying Japanese language and culture at primary school, it has been my dream to go to Japan, live there and study at university. Studying in Japan gives me a lot of options. The war made it possible for me to come to Japan, and I want to make the most of this opportunity.”
“The war changed everything a lot. I will never forget the three days I spent with my friends underground. In the future, I will study at university, develop my specialisation and try my best to become a bridge between Japan and Ukraine.”
“Thanks to all of you, I was able to come to Japan. I think that the war has helped us to understand what is really valuable. It is the bond with people. I can only thank the many Japanese people who have sent so much support.”
After the orientation, the students left for the area where the Japanese language school or university they plan to study (Tokyo, Chiba, Kyoto or Okinawa) to start their new lives.
More international students are expected to arrive in Japan from next week onwards at any time.