Solidarity Beyond Boundaries: An AsTW 2021 Report by Tri Nur Chasanah

2021 still hold pandemic situation where all international mobilities are being restricted in respect of safety and people are moving to virtual meeting to see each other. This pandemic hugely impacts our daily activities. But we’re not stop on that. We struggle to face this challenge.
AsTW in 2021 was the first time where the program held virtually. Also It was for the first time that the program held by Kyushu University in collaboration with Mahidol University. This 2 weeks international short program was my first experience as an exchange participant. This program consists 2 courses and cultural exchange. There are 2 kinds of course, they are ASEAN Language & Culture (ALC) and ASEAN Studies (AS). I picked Basic Japanese Language for ALC and Multiculturalism in Southeast Asia for AS.
There were 16 students in Basic Japanese Class. We had Mr. Woo Wai Sheng and Madam Suzana Ismail as our facilitator. It was fun to learn Japanese Language. We used Minato, a Japanese learning platform to know some basic conversations in Japanese. We learn about introduction, greetings, farewell expressions, expressing gratitude, apologize, even talk about food. Although we were learning through online meeting platform, we still had chance to practice speaking in Japanese. This was the situation during virtual class.

And for the last session, we had a chance to watch our oral presentation video through Padlet. I was so happy because everyone were so supportive in giving the feedbacks and the videos were so interesting. I realized that “We have many creative young people here.” We also had a chance to take a picture with Madam Suzana in this last session.

     For Multiculturalism Class we had Ms. Hiroko Ikuta and Ms. Hiroko Kinoshita as our facilitator and some guest lectures, Mr. Gan, Mr. Tetsu, and Mr. Iwamoto. There were 14 students in this class. This class was beyond my imagination. We were not just learned about other’s society identity, but also find our commonalities. As we know, most countries in Southeast Asian region experienced colonization from western countries and those make nationalism as our idea of state building. We also had fun discussion and sharing session which deepen our understanding about other’s identity. Sometimes we were privately chatting during the class, even talked about other topic outside class hehe.

And then in the last session we had a chance to present our final paper. The presentation become interesting because there were many perspectives about multiculturalism since we came from diverse major. There were language, history, psychology, even medical perspective. As the presentation session was over, we took a picture together.

Last but not least, the cultural activities. In the first week, We had a chance to see Thailand iconic place and buildings. Like the Grand Palace, Shrine, even the most famous mall in Thailand, Siam Center. For me the most interesting about this local tour is that I watched Thai people practicing agriculture as well as people in my community since I live in a rural area. I think that’s the reason why Southeast Asian people are connected. Next session, we had a chance to learn Thai Boxing. It’s interesting to know some philosophical means and history of this Thai martial art, also funny to follow the moves.

Then in the second week, first session we had a chance to watch how to make Thai traditional food and shared what traditional food from our countries. This session ended, when we asked to make our Thai instant food (Som Tam) which had been sent by the committee. We tasted it together. It was my first time eating Som Tam. It tastes unique for me. Like salty, sour, and spicy are mixed together. In this photo we showed our Som Tam.

This program gave me many insights, new knowledges, and deepen my understanding about living in a multicultural community. From language class, I learned that we either Japan and Southeast Asian Countries share values as an eastern civilization. We highly respect politeness indicated in the languages which has some degrees of politeness. Simply in Japanese, when we are asked a food or drink, we use “Amari tabemasen.” Instead of “Watashi wa sukijanai desu.” to seems less-offensive. From multicultural class, I learned that this is how we live harmonically in a multicultural community. By respect other’s cultures and not feel superior among others to keep our solidarity. AsTW is a great program to understand multiculturalism which become a gift in this region. I’m glad that until this time we still connect each other though LINE Video Call or chat and sometimes talking about K-POP, although actually I don’t really familiar with it haha. I really wish that we can meet each other after the pandemic over.
Thank you very much.