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Source: University of Waikato

A cultural exchange to Japan through the JENSEYS programme was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Davin Franks who returned to New Zealand with a new way of looking at the world.

The University of Waikato, Bachelor of Management Studies student, who will graduate this year with a major in Accounting, Finance and Japanese, spent nine days traveling around Japan with 23 other students as part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth (JENESYS), programme.

The scholarship programme, which is funded by the Japanese Government, is an exchange programme between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, enabling selected students to travel to Japan and be introduced to Japanese culture and tradition through visiting cultural and tourist sites in Tokyo and other regions.

Davin was one of 10 students from New Zealand, along with 6 from the Solomon Islands and 7 from Papua New Guinea. The group visited Tokyo, Nagasaki and the rural seaside town of Shimbara. Davin says they learned about the Nagasaki bomb, spent time discussing how to deal with the issue of nuclear weapons in today’s politics and learned about the persecution of Japanese Christians. They also spent time learning about Japanese theatre, food and culture.

The programme revolves around a learning topic and this year’s group focused on building peaceful societies.

“It was a once in a life-time opportunity where we got to experience a unique non-touristy side to Japan which I will truly remember. We worked pretty hard, but at the end of it I’ve come away with some amazing memories, new friends and a new way at looking at things,” says Davin.

He says the group visited plenty of museums and tried many different types of Japanese food, including shabu shabu, teppanyaki and sukiyaki. Davin says they also learned the work ethic of Japan.

“Our programme taught us about how we can only move forward successfully if we are peaceful with each other, and as students from different countries we need to ensure that as we move forward into society, we maintain the relationships we have built with each other over the trip, as well as the teachings we have learned,” says Davin.

Davin discovered the JENESYS scholarship through his Japanese class at the University of Waikato. His lecturer Fumiko Nishimura recommended him to the New Zealand Consulate General of Japan and gave him tips to improve his application.

“I definitely took a lot of learnings away from the exchange programme and would encourage anyone thinking of applying to go for it. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience. Spending the nine days with the other students and getting to know them was very fun, and I still talk to many of them today.”

Davin has recently moved to Wellington and taken a job with PwC in Wellington with the financial assurance team and will officially graduate in April this year.