“It was an incredible time. I learnt a lot of things, not only about Japan but also about many other countries”, says Elena Moreno, one of the youngsters who participated in “MIRAI” a short-term youth exchange programme involving graduate youngsters from universities in Europe and Central Asia. They were students of Politics, International Relations, Economics and Asian studies.
The opportunity to take part in this programme came to Elena through the institution where she studies, the College of Europe in Bruges (Belgium). “Even though they only picked up one student at my University I decided to apply, because you never know. My career has been focused on China and Asian studies from the very beginning. I think that is why they chose me”.
The programme aimed at fostering a solid foundation of Japan-Europe relations by promoting mutual understanding and building networks among future leaders. The students attended lectures at Keio University in Tokyo, talked to CEOs from different Japanese companies and spent a weekend with a local family to get a taste of Japan’s traditional culture. “Thanks to this programme, I had the opportunity to do things that I couldn’t do travelling on my own”, says Elena. “For example, we had the opportunity to talk to CEOs and managers who told us how to manage a successful company, and I learnt a lot. On the other hand, the weekend with the family was a very interesting experience, since we have very different cultures and we don’t speak the same language and that definitely opens your mind”.
This programme was implemented by two organisations from both continents: AFS Japan and EFIL – European Federation for Intercultural Learning.
To know more about exchange programmes, you can check the organisation’s website.