Strathmore University Japanese Club: Kenya Meets Japan
Strathmore University Japanese Club Members initiated and organized the event, Kenya Meets Japan that took place on 25th September, 2015 at Strathmore University Auditorium. The event was graced by a number of guests, key among them, Mikio Mori, Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of Japan, Kenya, who gave the key note address, Master Tamuura-a karate expert, club members and students from various Universities. The event aimed at creating an opportunity for students to learn more about Japanese society and culture through presentations from high-profiled guests and recruit new members to the club.
Ian Wairua, the club patron, gave a welcoming address thanking the Deputy Ambassador-Japan, Mikio Mori for availing himself. The informative event involved a series of talks and presentations about Japan that could be beneficial to the students in their career. In his presentation, Mikio Mori gave interesting facts about Kenya and Japan, highlighting basic principles that make the Japanese culture, which he said was the main reason of studying the Japanese Language. He also revealed the efforts Japan was making to ease the learning of Japanese language to Kenyans, listing important facts that; Kenya has the highest number of Japanese Language learners in Africa and it enjoys the highest number of higher learning institutions that teach Japanese language in the continent. He stated that there were many scholarship opportunities for Kenyans to study in Japan and encouraged students to take up the challenge and grab these opportunities.
Mr. Mori also talked about Japanese embassy activities, highlighting private level activities such as events by anime and manga. He went ahead and listed events that were organized by the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) which included; Japanese Cultural Festival, Nodojman and speech contest. Speaking on how one could develop knowledge about Japan, the Deputy Ambassador emphasized that the Japanese government offers scholarship opportunities to 10 Kenyan students each year. He added that African Business Education (ABE), an initiative started by Mr. Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, provided a great opportunity for African youth to pursue masters courses and avenues where they could undertake internships in Japan. He recognized Strathmore University as a great beneficiary of these opportunities. Mr. Mori also talked about a three-week Japanese Language training in Japan which is a scholarship program given to the best Kenyan student in the language, citing an example of our very own Nzomo Mbithe, who had recently benefited from the program. The Deputy Ambassador also talked about Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), an upcoming event held every 5years in Tokyo, Japan. TICAD is an international conference where all African countries are represented government delegations of participating countries in Japan only once or twice in a decade. Nairobi will be hosting this event for the first time.
Two club members, Jillian and Mbithe, who recently toured Japan shared their personal experiences in Japan. The two were selected for a three-week scholarship program to Japan through a tough competition which involved a Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT and a speech contest. The program, sponsored by the Japan Foundation aims at fostering the relationship between Kenya and Japan. Mbithe shared her experience during the selection process which she said was quite challenging and encouraged students to apply for the scholarship.
The Japanese Club has in the past been involved in very many activities in a bid to understand better the Japanese people, culture, language and also to find out how Japan and Kenya can benefit from each other. In the last 2 years students of the Japanese club have taken part in key activities, among them the Japanese speech contest, a competition held once a year for all Japanese language students and speakers in Kenya. They have also assisted in organizing and preparing for the JLPT whereby they arrange study sessions to prepare students for the exam.
However, not all club members are Japanese Language students. Some of them are merely interested in Japanese culture e.g. Japanese animation movies commonly known as anime which most of them watch, attending Japanese film shows, cultural festivals and food festivals held at the JICC, and being part of community outreach activities performed by the club.
Japanese Embassy has organized a Japanese investors exhibition on 9th October, 2015 whereby students will attend to network with possible Japanese employers at the embassy. The exhibition will provide a platform for students to interact with Japanese companies and know what is required of their employees, talk about themselves and network.
According to the club patron Mr. Wairua, the club activities have had a great impact on students and club members. Some students have ended up in Japan, with the most recent one being Tabitha Olang, a Strathmore University alumnus who completed financial economics course and from the interest she attained at the club, Tabitha received a masters scholarship to the University of Tokyo, Japan. Speaking after the event, the club patron said that Strathmore University has had the largest number of Japanese Language students in Africa until recently. The impact of the club activities could be seen in the large number of students interested in studying that Japanese Language at Strathmore University.
Mr. Wairua encouraged students to join the club, participate in the various activities and take advantage of the available opportunities and expand their horizons. Japan is one of the largest economies in the world and is rapidly expanding to Kenya through greater government involvement and more investments, said the club patron adding that Japan was becoming a better force in the world and played a role in the future of the young people. He therefore welcomed any students who were interested to join the Japanese club.