TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Welcome Event in Chubu-Hokuriku:A Theme of “How Do We Stay Connected in the Post-COVID-19 Era?” Brings Consideration on the Relationship Between People and the Region
On June 6, 2020, the Chubu-Hokuriku region kicked-off its 2020 online TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Welcome Event. Supported by Prudential Holdings of Japan, Inc. and the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, TOMODACHI Alumni in Chubu Hokuriku hosted the event for 27 participants. It was organized by Taiki Ito, Regional Leader, and Shinichi Fukunaga, Regional Mentor.
The event began with opening remarks by Yoshiaki Hirayama, Senior Officer of Portfolio Management, Prudential Holdings of Japan, and a video message from Gary Schaefer, Principal Officer, U.S. Consulate Nagoya.
In the beginning of the event, Taiki Ito, Regional Leader, explained the context of the theme, “How Do We Stay Connected in the Post-COVID-19 Era?” He felt that “we have missed chances for encounters we should have had” due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis’ cancellation and postponement of events. He then shared that he planned this opportunity to search for possibilities under hard circumstances, and maintain social connections with people and regional communities.
In the first half of the event, four Chubu-Hokuriku guest speakers in their twenties shared their current situations and the impacts they felt from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis: “I was forced to return to Japan because of the cancellation my study abroad program in Malaysia, even though it was already midway through.” “My overseas assignment to Africa was postponed, after I graduated from the university in Toyama and started working in JICA.” “I had been running a shared house in Toyama, but it became difficult to gather people.” “I had no choice but to return home after I lost my work as a private tutor in Toyama.”
Participants next discussed what kind of approaches can be effective under such circumstances, after dividing into small groups with each of the four guest speakers and considering “examples of youth and regional perspectives.” One of the guest speakers shared, “Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis [as I was studying abroad in Malaysia], I had to return to Japan because my program payment had stopped. So, I shared my experience thinking of ways I can contribute to my hometown of Toyama, and help those younger than me who would like to go abroad.” At the end of the event, each group shared its best idea to address the topic.
Participants established meaningful relationships with one another through their discussions with guest speakers, who are from the same generation and share their current challenges. Some commented, “I was given new ideas outside my usual perspective,” and “I was inspired by joining this gathering of people with different experiences and listening to their stories,” among other remarks. ”I feel it’s difficult to break the ice in an online rather than offline event. On the other hand, it’s more of a casual meeting and more people than ever before can gather from all over,” said Taiki Ito, Regional Leader, adding this may become the new meeting style.
The event was held as a part of the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework, the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Leadership Program supported by Prudential.