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On October 15 and 16, 2016, Beppu North Rotaract Club organized a camp for elementary school students from Kumamoto, who suffered from the great earthquake last April, to come to Beppu to have an exciting 2-day trip. I, Student Press Assistant, was very lucky to become one of the volunteers for the camp.

Rotaract Club is an international organization aiming at conducting volunteer activities fulfilling five exclusive targets such as social service, international service, environmental service, club service, and self-development. Unlike other Rotaract clubs in Japan, Beppu North Rotaract Club acquires a special uniqueness. Locating in APU, a multicultural environment, provides an ideal opportunity for Beppu North Rotaract Club to have international students join in the club. Currently besides Beppu citizens, there are 8 APU students, both domestic and international, taking part in various activities. For example, they go to many kindergartens and daycare centers to carry out interesting classes in spring and summer vacations. To help Kumamoto Prefecture after the destructive earthquake, Beppu North Rotaract Club did fundraising at the Beppu Station. More than that, participants have a chance to communicate with other countries’ Rotaract Club such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and Taiwan.

For Kumamoto children camp, Beppu North Rotaract Club cooperated with Kumamoto South East Rotaract Club to organize a particularly memorable experience for the students. On the first day, volunteers, who are APU international students, were designated into four groups, and spent a day enjoying a variety of food and activities during Tenkusai Festival at APU. In the evening, the children had an opportunity to learn how to make their own bamboo handcraft with the help of professional bamboo crafters from Oita Prefecture. On the second day, Kumamoto children got a special chance to go exploring Kamado Jigoku (Cooking Pot Hell) – one of the most famous tourist spot in Beppu. Everybody was surprised with the amazing sceneries of the color-changing water in the hot spring. They were also able to soak themselves into the warm flow of water for relaxation after that in a hot spring near there.

However, even though a work may turn out well, the preparation process is always the most difficult and demanding one. “I was the leader of the camp. Being a leader is a really difficult and challenging position, I have to admit that. Sometimes, nobody could understand me, and I failed to assign the tasks properly to everybody, so at first, nothing went well at all”, WATANABE Ayaka (College of Asia Pacific Studies 3rd year) – the leader of Kumamoto children camp confessed. Furthermore, it was summer vacation at that time, so she said that they barely had any chances to conduct a face-to-face meeting to discuss a variety of topics. They did not have chances to carry out a meeting with Kumamoto Rotaract Club, either. However, when the summer ended, every member tried their best to prepare for the camp, as Ayaka said, they helped her with the works, and they could also have proper meetings, so she felt much happier and motivated. About Finance, according to Ayaka, at first, they did not have any sponsors for the camp, but after a while, they received a donation from a student group of Graduate School of Management. Then, as more and more people donated money for their activity, they were able to organize a successful camp. “However, for me, the happiest moment was when I heard from Kumamoto Rotaract Club that the children felt really happy joining in the camp, and that they wanted to go to Beppu again.”

Together with other international students, I was very delighted to join in the camp. At first, before the children had arrived, I was really nervous and was wondering if I could make them feel happy. But it turned out that none of my worries mattered. They were smiling all the way. The language barrier was a problem, but none of us let such troubles prevent us from having a great time with the children, because we knew that they, unfortunately, had to suffer from such a traumatic incident in their life, and that they must have been very depressed towards that, but we also knew that we were here, not only to just fulfill our roles as the supervisor for the children, we were here because we wanted to make them smile, to feel happier about their life, and to gain memorable experiences of Beppu. Therefore, we tried our best to understand and play with them.

Nevertheless, at the moment, Beppu North Rotaract Club, despite their successful camp, cannot have a rest because they need to prepare for the upcoming activity which is going to happen in November. As Ayaka said, they are going to organize an International Exchange Activity among Beppu North Rotaract Club members, international students, Kumamoto Rotaract Club members and high school students of Beppu. Through the activity, they hope to spread the beauty of Beppu city to every international student in APU. Currently, Beppu North Rotaract Club is recruiting participants for the event, as well as the official participant of the club, so if anyone is interested, please do not hesitate to give it a try!!

Student Press Assistant (SPA)
Student Press Assistant (SPA)
TRAN Thi Viet Hai (Vietnam)