In the midst of the pandemic, lockdowns taught many the importance of connection and dialogue in a relationship. Thus, this year's theme for the 3rd Doshisha University and University of Makati (UMak) Japan-Philippines Language and Culture exchange program, “An Intercultural Dialogue: Students’ Everyday Lives," was very timely. Held virtually for the first time last March 5, 2021, students from both Doshisha and UMak were delighted to discover how they were interconnected despite their diverse culture, beliefs, and experiences.
In the program’s opening statement, UMak Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Elyxzur C. Ramos, mentioned that students must continue to thrive and rise above the challenges brought about by the pandemic for the furtherance of their knowledge and skills. Mr. Takahiro Matsuda from Business Association of University Co-op, the group which facilitated the event for Doshisha, warmly welcomed the participants and expressed his excitement because the event pushed through despite the pandemic. Mr. Matsuda also emphasized that communication is as important as people and places in understanding countries and cultures. Once again, UMak students from the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management (CTHM) joined the event guided by CTHM OIC and Department Chair Loreta Pascual, CTHM College Secretary Cesar Geronimo, CTHM Nihongo Professor Maria Filameda S. Horiuchi, Planning and Development Center Administrative Officer John David Ayson, and Corporate Communications Center Director Lourlene Joy Ugaddan.
During the event, students engaged in dynamic intercultural dialogues which allowed them to share their experiences during these uncertain times. The well-participated event was joined by a total of 20 students. There were 14 from University of Makati, namely: Franchesca Marie Batutay, Rosecil E. Clenista, Karlo D. Bermudo, Raven Marie C. Dalugdugan, Karla Rose S. Daza, Alexandra Nicole Fidelsol, Hannah Joy Nono, Ericha Ane Mahilom, Heart Lee Mariano, Jan Steeven Threo S. Peig, Rucel M. Reyes, Shanemarie T. Suniga, Rochaflouhrguvynheill U. Tolentino and Dan Erika S. Villaroman. And there were 6 from Doshisha University, namely: Takuma Hayashi, Kota Isono, Ayaka Sawayama, Shun Shimizu, Mayu Tomitaka and Ayano Yamauchi.
One word emerged after the students shared their everyday life experiences during the Break Room Discussions - the Filipino word “masaya” or happy in English. The students had fun sharing their common interest in animé and love for Japanese and Filipino food. Indeed, happiness was mirrored in their eyes and felt by the warmth of their smiles. It was the kind of warmth that transcends beyond the virtual platform and the adversities brought about by the pandemic. Indeed, events like this prove that the joy and fun of learning should not stop despite the pandemic for the students’ knowledge and skills to flourish. The program ended with closing remarks from Prof. Loreta Pascual, CTHM OIC and Department Chair. She thanked the students from Doshisha and UMak for their dynamic intercultural dialogue. Professor Pascual also expressed her gratitude to Business Association of University Co-op and to Doshisha University, represented by Ms. Suzuka Fujibayashi, for their continued support of UMak’s language and cultural exchange program. Lastly, she acknowledged the UMak Center for Linkages, Career Development and Placement, headed by Dir. Cynthia Margaretta R. José, for spearheading another successful and worthwhile event.
Written by Liezl D. Sarmiento, a student from the University of Makati School of Law; Photos taken via Zoom app during the virtual event.