In love with Vietnam

Friends from the land of rising sun

Overcoming language, culture and lifestyle obstacles, Japanese volunteers Obikane Yasuo, Ito Mai, Shuto Mika and Nagase Ippei have tried their best to cultivate the friendship between Japan and Vietnam with practical and meaningful works in Da Nang and Hue.
Obikane Yasuo, Ito Mai and Shuto Mika came in 2018 and Nagase Ippei came in 2019 to Hue and Da Nang under the Japan Volunteer Program launched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In Da Nang, Shuto Mika is a Japanese language teacher at the University of Foreign Language Studies, University of Da Nang while Ito Maicha takes care of and teaches children with disabilities in a humanitarian center in the city. In Hue, Obikane Yasuo instructs students at Hue Industrial College to build unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) techniques, while Nagase Ippei works as a physiotherapist at Thua Thien Hue Province Rehabilitation Hospital. 

Nagase Ippei rehabilitates a knee-joint for a female patient in Hue.

Nagase Ippei rehabilitates a shoulder joint for a patient.

A patient is happy after a 
rehabilitation session. 

Due to the differences in language, culture and lifestyle, Obikane Yasuo, Ito Mai, Shuto Mika and Nagase Ippei faced many difficulties at work in the early days because they all had come to Vietnam for the first time. They, however, have made strong efforts to fulfill their precious volunteer duties, as well as contribute to the building of friendship between Vietnam and Japan.

Being a senior volunteer who teaches Japanese in Da Nang, Shuto Mika also spends a lot of time studying Vietnamese culture where she has had many interesting experiences. Shuto Mika loves ao dai and wants to learn the Vietnamese optimistic way of life despite many difficulties.


Japanese books in Shuto Mika's classroom. 

Shuto Mika and her students are excited about their group work activities. 

Shuto Mika teaches a student to play the zither. 

Shuto Mika helps a student to play the zither. 

Dr Obikane Yasuo, also a senior volunteer, is an experienced expert in aerospace engineering and has been a volunteer in many countries. With a desire to help Vietnam develop, Obikane Yasuo chose Hue as the destination for his new term of office and he enthusiastically shares his knowledge with young people. He is hopeful that someday they can master one of the world's leading technology fields, UAV production. Living in Hue, Obikane Yasuo said, “The Vietnamese language is too hard to learn but the food is good, especially the vegetables.”

Obikane Yasuo, an experienced expert in aerospace engineering.

Obikane Yasuo is working as a teacher at Hue Industrial College.

Obikane Yasuo and his students during a UAV production lesson at Hue Industrial College. 

Obikane Yasuo and his students during a UAV lesson at Hue Industrial College. 

Like Shuto Mika and Obikane Yasuo, Vietnamese is really a big obstacle for Nagase Ippei. Nagase Ippei finds it difficult to communicate and work, but it is the warmth, closeness and friendliness of his Vietnamese colleagues in Hue that help him overcome everything. Thanks to years of experience as the Head of the Physiotherapy Technician team at Fujita Health University Hospital in Japan, he was assured to wholeheartedly treat patients, as well as help improve the qualifications of technicians at Thua Thien Hue Province Rehabilitation Hospital.

Compared to his three compatriots, Ito Mai speaks Vietnamese better, so it is more convenient to take care of and teach children with intellectual disabilities at the Uoc Mo Xanh (Blue Dream) Centre for Special Education Research and Development. It is the love of the children that inspires Ito Mai to stick with her work in Da Nang, where she has put all her love from the first day she arrived.

Ito Mai takes care of and teaches children with intellectual disabilities. 

Ito Mai teaches children to make potato cakes.

 Ito Mai teaches children with disabilities to make toys from color paper. 
The JICA Volunteer Program was launched in Vietnam in 1995. More than 600 volunteers have been sent to work in all provinces and cities across the country. There are currently more than 40 JICA volunteers implementing activities in fields such as Japanese language teaching, health care, sports, education, tourism, social welfare, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, auxiliary and local development.
By Thanh Hoa

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