TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Theme Event in Chubu-Hokuriku Region: Learning About Social Isolation Through Support for the Homeless
On September 19, 2020, the Chubu-Hokuriku Region held its TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework Theme Event. Supported by Prudential and the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, TOMODACHI Alumni in the Chubu-Hokuriku region hosted the event for 15 participants. It was organized by Taiki Ito, Regional Leader, and Shinichi Fukunaga, Regional Mentor.
To begin the event, Taiki Ito discussed the context of the theme, “social isolation in Japan,” sharing his aim to create an opportunity to consider the issue of belonging through the stories of someone working to support the homeless.
In the first half of the event, Mr. Tomoshi Okuda, Representative Director at NPO Houboku, talked about the issue of social isolation in Japan, which has been clearly exposed by the spread of COVID-19, and the need for human interaction.
Sharing the work of NPO Houboku, he talked about the difference between “houselessness” and homelessness to more deeply explain social isolation. He also explained the importance of places where people can belong and feel connected to help them see the meaning of their existence. He also noted a particular issue in Japan, which is an isolated society where people are seen as responsible or at fault for their own problems, leading to a low level of understanding. The key to solving this issue is that the society should support the functions which families can no longer support.
In the latter half of the event, participants split into three groups to discuss the topic of “the social isolation around us and what we can do as individuals.” During the discussion, participants shared thoughts such as, “I thought we could change how we interact with people, such as greetings within our community” and “I thought the elderly tend to be more isolated than others, but also found that fathers are likely to be less connected with others as they have few people to consult with.” The event concluded as each group shared their ideas and findings.
The participants were able to meaningfully spend their time finding and gaining new insights and thoughts by listening to other participants their age and the lecture from the guest speaker. Several participants commented, “I want to raise my antenna about social isolation in my daily life and face the issue” and “I want to reconcile how human interaction and social interaction are connected to what is good and bad, and change my behavior and involve other people. To begin with, I will talk with my family.” Taiki Ito, Regional Leader, commented, “It’s not easy to understand the reality of social isolation, but the event was a good opportunity for the participants to deepen their understanding by sharing their opinions and ideas,” demonstrating hope for new encounters.
The event was held as a part of the TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework, the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Leadership Program supported by Prudential.