Youth from Yomitan visit East Timor
August 3, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
In June, ten young people from Yomitan Village and Takashiho Junior Chamber were sent to East Timor on a youth exchange program run by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE). On July 16, nine of them shared their experiences and impressions of East Timor on the local radio station FM Yomitan.
The program is part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths who aim to deepen mutual understanding among young people in East Asia. The visit to East Timor occurred from June 16 to 23, and included a performing arts exchange such as eisa, as well as a visit to Komoro Village which is famous for the production of traditional textiles.
After years of conflict, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, or more commonly known as East Timor, became an independent nation in 2002. It still has serious problems to deal with such as poverty and garbage issues but with support from international institutions such as the United Nations it strives to restore order in society and develop its economy.
Tatsushi Yonaha, who went abroad for the first time, said, “I had heard that East Timor is the world’s poorest country, but I was impressed by the energy of its people. I wanted to see the world with my own eyes and learn many things.”
Katsuya Higa said, “The country is rapidly modernizing but its natural environment has been destroyed. Now may be the time to think carefully about how to provide support for this country.” Miki Hirata said, “Everybody was very friendly. This exchange opportunity made me think about learning more about Okinawan history.”
From July 20 to 25, 12 young adults from East Timor visited Okinawa on this exchange program.
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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