Students to Travel to Japan as Ambassadors of Aberystwyth University

In January 2018, Aberystwyth University will be sending five students to the town of Yosano, Japan to act as Ambassadors on behalf of the university. While this may seem out of the blue, the link between the two towns is historic; it dates back to World War 2 with Frank Evans, who was captured in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, and imprisoned in Yosano. He eventually returned to the town to reconcile his bitterness and as a result, the friendship between Aber and Yosano has continued and expanded. Students from Penglais school were among the first to be able to visit Yosano, and a few years ago, the Mayor of Yosano, Ogata Atsumi visited Aberystwyth and extended the invitation to university students.

Myself and four other students have been selected to represent the university in Yosano 2018, an opportunity that would be impossible if not for the generosity of the Aberystwyth Alumni Aber Fund, the Heads of Departments, Professor Gary Rawnsley of International Politics, and Dr Val Nolan of English and Creative Writing, to whom we all give our greatest thanks.

Japan is hopefully my future, whether teaching or translating, and this opportunity allows me to delve into the country, culture and its people while also giving back to the university who has enabled it. This article is one of a handful I’ll be writing to celebrate our visit, and hopefully you’ll all follow along.

I’ve asked my fellow ambassadors a few questions to get to know them better, to understand their motivations in applying for this opportunity and to see what they’re doing to promote #Yosano2018.

 

Carys Bevan, 19, second year English Literature and Drama & Theatre Studies from London 

What made you apply for the trip?

‘Japan has featured heavily throughout my education; from studying seismic activity in Geography, to mastering the haiku in English, and studying Kabuki theatre in Drama. This in turn has developed my great interest in the country, however until now I’ve not been privileged enough to be given the opportunity to experience it all first hand. In addition to this, I’m ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to represent Aberystwyth University in a formal capacity, as I am keen to share my love of Aber’s unique culture and community with others. I have undertaken similar student ambassador roles in the past, and I hope to be able to use my previous experiences to fulfil this role to the best of my ability.’

What are you looking forward to?

‘One of my close friends was lucky enough to attend last year, and he said that he was taken aback by the vast levels of hospitality throughout the trip, and so, as cliché as it may sound, I’m most looking forward to meeting new people, and (hopefully) making life-long friends. Although, experiencing Japanese cuisine comes a very close second…’

 How are you going to promote the visit?

‘As my trip is being funded by the department of English and Creative Writing, I thought it would be most appropriate to write about my travels and experiences whilst I’m there. I hope to do this primarily through a travel blog, which I will be starting very soon and promoting through the university’s social media – watch this space!’

 

Marged Smith, 19, second year Welsh and History from Wales

What made you apply for the trip?

‘After spending time with the UNA Exchange, I wanted to learn more about Japanese culture.’

Is there anything you have apprehensions about? 

‘I am nervous about travelling to a new country however I am very excited about the whole experience!’

How are you going to promote the visit? (this is mainly to promote your stuff, add social media links or whatever you want) 

‘I hope to promote the visit using social media, and to write about the experience through the Welsh language.’

 

Giselle Rosetta from Brighton, 21 and studying an MA in Physics

How will this opportunity enhance your life? (You can talk about academically, personally, etc)

‘I want to go into the civil service later in my career to shape scientific policy, particularly that pertaining to the environment – I think climate change is one of the biggest problems we face, especially for people in my generation. It’s something I believe the world needs to unite around, and going back to understanding other cultures, that will be a key part of finding a solution we can all get behind. My career so far has been working in the charity sector so this is a fantastic opportunity to put the people skills I have into practise to further the awesome relationship between Aberystwyth and Yosano, and hopefully be a building block along the way for my career too.’

How will this opportunity enhance your life? (You can talk about academically, personally, etc)

‘I want to go into the civil service later in my career to shape scientific policy, particularly that pertaining to the environment – I think climate change is one of the biggest problems we face, especially for people in my generation. It’s something I believe the world needs to unite around, and going back to understanding other cultures, that will be a key part of finding a solution we can all get behind. My career so far has been working in the charity sector so this is a fantastic opportunity to put the people skills I have into practise to further the awesome relationship between Aberystwyth and Yosano, and hopefully be a building block along the way for my career too.’

How are you going to promote the visit? (this is mainly to promote your stuff, add social media links or whatever you want)

‘I’ll be taking loads of videos and photos while we’re there to make a video/picture show at the end to tell the story of the trip, and show people what it’s really like in Yosano.’

 

Unfortunately, Vera Tzoanou, a first year Psychology student, was unable to get back to me, though we know she’s as excited as we are. As of now, it’s been confirmed that we will be participating in a kimono workshop whilst staying there, along with meeting students and government officials, including the mayor! Keep your eye on the Aber Uni Yosano Facebook page, as well as through the hashtag #Yosano2018 on Twitter, though I prefer #Japanuary. Carys will be blogging the experience, and I’ll include all links for both university and student coverage below!

https://www.facebook.com/AberUniYosano

https://twitter.com/AberUni

Carys’ blog; https://aber2asia.com