My First Five Days in Okinawa
Did I ever tell you that I was granted an international training scholarship by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in years 2007 to 2008? Well, the training course was about the “Application of Multimedia Technology for e-Education. I will share with you my experiences on my first five days in Okinawa, Japan.
I started forming impressions on Japan as soon as my foot landed at the Narita Airport. After I was through with the landing procedure of the Bureau of Immigration, I took my stuff and lifted them from the baggage carousel. As soon as I approached the JICA lady officer at the airport, I was provided with a ticket to a limousine bus, then she gave me a detailed instruction on what to do next, thereafter, she escorted me to the bus stop and instructed me go to the Haneda Airport. I traveled again by plane to Naha Airport where I was cheerfully assisted by another JICA staff to my final destination - Okinawa International Center (OIC). At the OIC, a room key and a meal card were given to me, some personnel offered explanations as to how these card and other amenities of the center be used. I felt I was never away from home especially after two young Filipinos (Erik and Cris) entertained me by telling wonderful experiences during their first week of stay.
I immediately bought call cards to call my wife and daughter in the Philippines. My first day ended at Room 235 of OIC, the weather was so cold, and so am I. I woke up at about 7:00 a.m. and started the 2nd day at the Tsukudo (dining area). I saw various participants from different countries and it seems that a U.N. convention was being held there. Cris san guided me to the canteen and showed me how to use my meal card.
After eating, I was visited by my coordinator (from MTEC) who briefed me about important matters like house rules, courtesy, meetings and many other more.
I was able to meet my classmates for the training and various participants from other courses. It was fun to meet them and our sponsors as well.
I was late during the 3rd day meeting with the participants and sponsors and I felt so sad. I was not able to control myself and I overslept. Perhaps, it was due to the changing of weather condition which I was not accustomed to. I saw that my colleagues were given calling cards by Japanese staff from prestigious companies. Damn me, for not waking up on time! I felt I was a little form surrounded by the head and foot of a parenthesis. But I was able to recover as my name was called to give a brief self-introduction. I stood up and immediately recited my prepared speech – in Japanese of course! I felt relieved after that.
The 4th day was spent at Urasoe City, wherein, the participants were introduced to the mayor, and we were given keys to the city, at the same time, we were issued non-resident alien cards for us to be able to formally live and mingle with the locals. Astounding!
In the afternoon a raffle was set for the participants – a visit to the Chaurami Aquarium.
The 5th day was spent studying Japanese culture and discussing their form of government, especially Diet, etc.
I got interested to go to the Chaurami Aquarium because of the feedback I received from my friends in Okinawa. They told me that it was extremely beautiful. My enthusiasm to go there was further intensified by the fact that only few participants will be able to go there due to limited number of slots. It would really rely on luck. So I was praying very hard that my name would be called.
Oh... how can I forget the raffle day for the trainee to attend an Observation Tour at Okinawa Aquarium. The slots for the participants were 53, but more than 80 persons signed up in the manifesto. So what the JICA staff did was picked 53 individuals by random. Sad to say I was not chosen.
But the big fighter that I am, I did not quit. I know that somewhere along the way some trainees who were selected would not be able to join the trip for some reasons or another. So I thought waiting early in the morning of the next day would be a great idea... maybe I could get a slot... oh just maybe...
The next day I immediately went to the registration room but got shocked after I saw five other individuals, ahead of me, forming a long queue in case someone back-out of the trip (I thought I was the only one with that kind of thinking). So I was kinda praying that God would give me a chance to join the trip - then two people called the staff that they won't be able to join (as expected of course)... another three sent peelers that they won't be able to make it... after 10 minutes. I lost the count. I was left alone in the line and I was so nervous, my heart was pounding too fast, maybe if you would come nearer to where I stood you would hear my anxious heartbeat.
But no more participants backed-out.
The coordinator then signaled the driver to start the engine. I got so frustrated and upset. I prepared myself to leave and never to look back again...
While walking (with my head showing a melancholic despair), I felt a soft tap on my shoulder - "Common join us young man!"
I consider myself fortunate that these two generous people from the bus company agreed to accommodate me in a two-seater bench...
and the rest was history.