Waikato students Kristy Wright and Aotea Apiti were two of just a handful of New Zealand tertiary students selected to meet with the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife, Mrs Akie Abe, on Monday.
Kristy, who is studying a Master of Media and Creative Technology, even got an informal invite to her residence, with Mrs Abe extending a welcome to all the students the next time they visit Japan.
“When I met her she said she was very excited to be in New Zealand and she was very down to earth and genuine,” says Kristy.
Increasing potential interests towards Japan
Kristy and Aotea were two of eight Waikato students who recently took part in a project called JENESYS 2.0, a programme launched and developed by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in 2013 to increase potential interests towards Japan and a number of foreign visitors, for Japan's economic recovery and to deepen mutual understanding among the youth of Japan and ASEAN/Oceanian region.
The exchange is funded by the Japanese Government and they spent ten days in Japan learning about culture and media.
Mrs Abe was visiting New Zealand with her husband, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who was busy meeting with his counterpart, Prime Minister, John Key.
The event was held on July 7, which is the day the Japanese celebrate Tanabata, a star festival in which today people generally celebrate by writing wishes, sometimes in the form of poetry and hanging them on bamboo. The students took part in this activity on the day.
Presentation on the JENESYS2.0 programme
Bachelor of Arts student Aotea, who is majoring in Japanese and Māori, was asked to do a presentation for Mrs Abe at the event, on her experience and learnings in participating in the JENESYS2.0 programme.
She spoke about visiting Japanese High Schools, staying at a museum, learning about unique Japanese energy efficiency and visiting a Shinto Shrine as part of her programme.
Dr Fumiko Nishimura, the convenor of Japanese Programme, says that Mrs Abe is very interested in promoting cultural exchanges among young people.
“She wants to know that the students genuinely enjoy and benefit from these programmes.”
The Waikato students who participated in the JENESYS2.0 programme will be holding a presentation for the interested public between 1 and 2 pm on Wednesday 23 July, in S1.03, to talk about their experiences and learnings.