15 Japanese Student Volunteers Depart for Poland to Assist Evacuees from UkraineSend-off ceremony held at The Nippon Foundation

A ceremony was held at The Nippon Zaidan Building on March 30 to see off the first two groups of Japanese university student volunteers who are being dispatched to Poland to assist evacuees from Ukraine as part of a joint project with The Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center. The first group of 15 students will be dispatched from May 31 to June 16, and the second group of 15 will be dispatched from June 13 to 29, and 25 of those students attended the send-off ceremony. From their base in Krakow, the students will assist people who have evacuated from Ukraine by distributing food and other items, managing relief supplies, and assisting with the dissemination of information about activities being carried out by NGOs.

Group photo of the student volunteers
Group photo of the student volunteers

Comments

Rinka Saito, Group 1 representative (2nd year student at Waseda University, from Aichi Prefecture)

At this point, it is impossible for us student volunteers, who speak a completely different language and come from completely different circumstances, to say anything about the feelings of the people who have evacuated from Ukraine. I sincerely hope that through our daily activities there, we will share their anxiety and inconvenience, and provide them with at least some relief.

Photo of Rinka Saito, Group 1 representative (2nd year student at Waseda University, from Aichi Prefecture)

Koya Fujita, Group 2 representative (3rd year student at Doshisha University, from Tochigi Prefecture)

I am majoring in international politics with the goal of studying abroad while at university.
When I learned of the tense situation in Russia and Ukraine, where people who had been leading peaceful daily lives were losing their homes and livelihoods and being forced to flee their homeland, I wondered if there was anything I could do to help them, and decided to apply for this program. I will strive to understand their situation as much as possible and share their feelings from their point of view. I want to keep this in mind as I carry out my activities.

Photo of Akiya Fujita, Group 2 representative (3rd year student at Doshisha University, from Tochigi Prefecture)

Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation

Perhaps because Japan is an island nation, we unfortunately have a habit of viewing the world from a Japan-centered perspective. In this era of globalization, however, we need to think of Japan as part of the world.
The tragedy in Ukraine has caused prices of grain, bread, and livestock fertilizer to skyrocket in Japan, putting pressure on our lives here.
With this in mind, we have planned this project in the hope that young people, who represent our future, will experience the fact that the world works in ways that are always relative, and that this project will provide them with an opportunity to experience the idea that Japan is part of that world. Because the work is being done in a foreign country, The Nippon Foundation will put the safety of the university students first and foremost, and will make every effort to ensure that these young people are able to engage in fulfilling activities.

Photo of Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation

Ceremony overview

  • Time and date: 13:30-15:00; Monday, May 30, 2022
  • Location: The Nippon Zaidan Building (2nd floor conference room)
    1-2-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku Tokyo
  • Schedule
    1. Greetings from Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation
    2. Explanation of situation in Poland by Ichiro Kabasawa, Executive Director, The Nippon Foundation
    3. Introduction of participating volunteers by Kazuto Sawatari, Managing Director, The Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center
    4. Presentation of uniforms and comments from volunteer representatives
      Rinka Saito, Group 1 representative (2nd year student at Waseda University, from Aichi Prefecture)
      Koya Fujita, Group 2 representative (3rd year student at Doshisha University, from Tochigi Prefecture)

Schedule going forward

The Volunteer Program for Ukraine plans to send a total of seven groups of 15 volunteers (105 total) by October. Applications for the third and subsequent groups can be made through The Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center’s Vokatsu! website (in Japanese only).