From Yerevan to Manila, from Buenos Aires to Addis Ababa, from New Delhi to Budapest,
JICA Alumni Associations have been voluntarily established al over the world by former participants of JICA Technical Training Programs to share their experiences and maintain their friendly and close relationship with Japan. The first JICA Alumni Association was launched in 1967 in the Philippines, and nowadays the idea has expanded to comprise 103 associations in 89 countries with more than 50,000 members from all over the world.
In principle, JICA Alumni are previous participants of our Technical Training Programs, which main idea aims to transfer Japanese knowledge, experience and technology to respective countries through various training seminars. Since its establishment in 1954, the technical training program has accepted approximately 275,000 trainees from all over the world to discuss global issues such as the environment, HIV/AIDS, transition to market economies and democratization, as well as administration, agriculture, education, and health. Key administrators, technicians, researchers, and development workers attend the training programs, where they also have a crucial and significant opportunity to work with some of their counterparts in other countries and regions experiencing similar issues.
Based on such a special and enriching experience, alumni are encouraged to be involved in a variety of activities such as developing local newsletters, volunteering in the community, sponsor Japanese cultural events, and to collaborate in technical cooperation-needs surveys and evaluations. These activities serve as the backbone of most JICA Alumni Associations helping to build a cooperative exchange with Japan and promote mutual understanding.
In this issue, you will find an outline of the main activities pursued by JICA Alumni Associations such as cultural events and seminars. Furthermore do not miss excerpts from current Alumni members and their personal experiences in the program.
Each JICA Alumni Association has creative activities to maintain close friendships among the alumni and to Japan. Alumni organize farewell parties, follow-up meetings, social activities, outdoor picnics and sporting days for past and future JICA participants. Alumni are also invited to take part in Japanese cultural events such as flower arrangement, tea ceremony, and bonsai.
For example, the JICA Alumni Association in Egypt successfully arranged homestays for twenty Japanese teachers with Egyptian families. The JICA Alumni Association of Bangladesh raises funds among its members to help people affected by natural disasters, such as distributing family kits of clothing, food, and medicine for victims of village flooding. The JICA Alumni Association in Jamaica has funds to carry out social outreach projects in the community such as the Joe Hut Water Treatment Project and the Ebeneezer Home for the Mentally Challenged Project. To add to these accomplishments, they maintain an alumni database and hold executive and general meetings to further promote cultural exchange with Japan. For all these activities, JICA alumni and the citizens of the affiliated country each have the opportunity to extend their caring nature and build on their friendships.
Seminars for JICA Alumni Associations
In addition to social activities, JICA Alumni Association members organize seminars for their community members to participate. A technical seminar on "Disaster Management" in India was organized by the JICA Alumni Association of India (JAAI) in January 2006 . JAAI president, Dr M.M. Singh and Mr. T. Sakai, Resident Representative of JICA's India office, delivered addresses before speakers took the stage to talk about the importance of efficient communication, earthquake monitoring, and community participation in disaster management in light of the devastation by the tsunami and earthquake in 2005. JAAI also collaborated with JICA to organize an Environmental Awareness Programee "Help the Earth" for public school children in Dwarka.
Many other seminars that focus on development in areas of technology, health, and agriculture have been held by the JICA Alumni Association in Egypt in anticipation that ex- participants and others will take further action. Past seminars include "Towards A Healthier Child", "International Seminar for Post Earthquake Era", and "University Education & Research: Sharing the Japanese Experience".
Reflections on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management Systems Guyana
"Environmental Management in Guyana is quite new and as such we are currently putting systems in place to have proper environmental management. [P] reviously, training in this field was non-existent, [but] by participating in the JICA training, we have benefited a lot. We were exposed to measures used in Japan to address various environmental problems and as such can identify and implement some of these measures here. We are now aware of what other countries have done to deal with their problems and can make better decisions. For example, we are currently setting up an ambient air quality monitoring program similar to [the one in] Osaka. From the training we are now aware of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and are encouraging companies to seek EMS certification and advise them on how to contribute to the development of Guyana."
Reflections on Maritime Developments St. Kitts and Nevis
"[After] having visited Japan in 1997 with JICA, on my return home I was inspired to lead the development of the marine sector in St. Kitts and Nevis. I became a strong advocate for the development of Maritime Administration and today as a result of my experience in Japan, I am the Director of Maritime Affairs in St. Kitts and Nevis, overseeing all national maritime developments. Indeed my experience in Japan has certainly helped developments in St. Kitts and Nevis. I have been inspired to create a JICA Alumni Association in St. Kitts and Nevis; this I believe will help to strengthen friendly ties with Japan. Since my visit to Japan I am always quick to speak well of Japan and its culture."
Reflections on Fire Service Training Trinidad and Tobago
"I am an Assistant Divisional Fire Officer in the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service. After my training in Japan I was better able to take command of fire emergencies and prevent property destruction from fires. I am attached to the Fire Service Training Department where I am using the information I learned from JICA training to instruct other firefighters. I made many friends when I was in Japan and I will gladly welcome new friends and am willing to show them my country."