Speech by "Japanese Mothers for Foreign Students" Movement of the Tokyo YWCA

Speech by "Japanese Mothers for Foreign Students" Movement of the Tokyo YWCA

Ms. Hiroko Umemoto, Chairperson The "Japanese Mothers for Foreign Students" Movement of the Tokyo YWCA is deeply grateful and overjoyed at being chosen as a recipient of the Japan Foundation Special Prize today. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
It is thanks to the thoughtfulness of our 360 present members and the past members who supported the movement since its inception that I stand here today.
Our movement began in 1961. Our basic purpose is to set up teams of one exchange student and one Japanese mother each for the purpose of accepting the exchange students as members of a Japanese family throughout their stay in Japan so that they can experience exchange on a daily-life level. During the past 41 years, we have welcomed 3,555 students from 54 countries. Many of the mothers have continued exchange with the students even after they graduated and returned to their home countries, many even going so far as to attend their weddings and claim their children as their own grandchildren.
As the mothers communicate with the exchange students, they begin to gain a humanistic understanding of the students' hearts and the conditions under which they have been placed, and a broad variety of activities have come into being through the conviction that something must be done to help them out.
These include: 1) a counseling office for exchange students who have a sufficient command of the Japanese language to converse freely with Japanese young people and the mothers, due to the fact that they have few actual opportunities to speak with Japanese people and nowhere to go where they can receive counseling whenever they have any sort of problem; 2) a fund for the purpose of providing small scholarships and lending money in case of emergencies to the exchange students; and 3) the holding of Japanese-language speech contests for students who have recently arrived in Japan. There are also many other similar activities in the context of which all members are able to enjoy participating in an activity that is suitable to themselves.
And we have made ourselves heard in society when we felt that there was something that should be done for the exchange students when we put ourselves in their places.
Ms. Hiroko Umemoto, ChairpersonQuite some time ago, we published a pamphlet titled "Exchange Students Appeal," in which we made a demand for improvement of the policy for receiving exchange students, and it received attention.
We succeeded in gaining recognition for the establishment of a unique YWCA system for providing guarantors for exchange students during their stays in Japan, and during the ensuing thirteen years, we have served as guarantor for 308 exchange students. We have continued to respond to timely social matters in terms of such actions as the presenting of a demand for improvement of the double payment of university entrance fees.
We intend to exert energetic efforts toward the continuation of our activities under the conviction that it is mutual recognition of such differences as nationality, culture, and religion, and the building of a trust relationship by each individual exchange student and mother team, and that it is the gradual increase in the number of such relationships that will lead to world peace.
Thank you very much.

Page Top