Sayonara to Japan

Have a look at Andrea and Gretchen’s third and final week in Japan!

It is hard to believe our time here at Wayo University has already come to an end. By our third week in Japan we were finally feeling like we had settled in. We were starting to use a little more Japanese and feel comfortable in our new environment. We would like to tell you about our final week in Japan.

Monday we had some free time in the morning so our Japanese friends took us to see Tokyo Tower. The view of the city from the top was outstanding! In the afternoon we attended a class called Practice in Therapeutic Diet. We learned how to make sushi, tempura and miso soup. We also learned how to adapt this meal to make it suitable for people with kidney disease. After school we joined the Ikebana club at Wayo University where we got to participate in some flower arranging. They told us that the arrangement is broken down into three sections to represent heaven, earth and man.

Tuesday morning we took a boat across the river to Tokyo to visit a temple. In the afternoon we had an interview with some people form Total Communications Inc. which is a marketing company that markets thickeners for older adults. We learned about the differences in long term care facilities between Canada and Japan. After we joined a gardening project and planted some flowers on Wayo Campus. The students who do this exchange program next year will be able to see our contribution!

Wednesday we traveled to Sosa City, a much smaller city located northeast of Ichikawa. Here we observed Reiko-sensei’s research. The goal of her research is to observe the effects of nutrition education on the health of elementary school-aged children. The students behaved in such an orderly fashion. They went to different stations where they got their blood pressure checked, their waist circumference measured, their blood taken and they completed a food frequency questionnaire. Later when we go back to Canada we will work on analysing the data that was collected.

Thursday was our last day at Wayo. They had a farewell lunch for us and all of the teachers and students we met over the three weeks came to wish us farewell. Saying goodbye was really hard and there were some tears but we are really excited for when the three Wayo students come to Brescia in September. We hope that they will enjoy their time in Canada as much as we enjoyed our experience in Japan.

Friday was departure day for Dr. Garcia and Andrea. There were more tears when Andrea said goodbye to her Japanese Family. Gretchen’s family came to meet her in Japan to do a couple more weeks of travelling.

We have learned and grown so much over the past three weeks and we have made friendships that will last a lifetime. We were definitely not ready to say goodbye. The culture here is so different and we found it to be very interesting and everyone we have met has been so welcoming and generous. We have also enjoyed learning about Japanese food systems and the history behind it all. We believe that this experience will help us as future dietitians as we have become more culturally competent. This is becoming more and more important as Canada continues to become even more culturally diverse.

In Closing, we would like to thank all those who made this exchange program the amazing experience that it was. The teachers at Wayo University, Jennifer Coghlin in the Registrar’s Office at Brescia and a big thank you to Dr. Garcia! We really appreciate everything you have done for us. 

Week Two in Japan

Take a look at Andrea Green and Gretchen Lee’s second week in Japan!

Monday was a day of cultural immersion. We visited Tsukiji fish market where we learned about Japan’s food supply. We also learned about government and politics at the National Diet Building and about religion and tradition at the Asakusa Kannon Temple. At the sky tree town and Soramachi we got to see the modern side of Tokyo which is influenced from other countries.

On Tuesday we went to Ichikawa elementary school. Here we enjoyed lunch with some grade 6 students and learned about Japan’s school lunch program. The program was implemented after World War Two with the goal of reducing the incidence of lactose intolerance. Today the program still exists and every school-aged child is provided with a hot lunch that is very reasonably priced. Through this program, the children are also taught about healthy eating.

Tuesday night for dinner Motoko Sensei treated us to an elaborate Japanese dinner at a traditional style restaurant. The chef was so kind and gave us antique Japanese dishes and Motoko-Sensei gave us some souvenirs as well. Japanese people are so kind and generous!

On Wednesday morning, we joined Kistler-sensei’s English class to participate in group discussions with Japanese students. The students were curious about topics such as fashion, dating, and tattoos in North America. We also learned a lot about the Japanese views on pop culture. After lunch, Andrea and Gretchen went with Izumi-san, Saki-san, and Satomi-san to Shibuya and Harajuku in Tokyo for some sight-seeing. Tokyo is full of tall buildings, shops, and people – just like how we imagined Japan to be!

Thursday morning was spent at a nutrition education class (known as shokuiku). We completed a food group crossword designed for children. In the afternoon, members from the Japanese dairy board came to do a bone mass check and to promote the consumption of 3 dairy servings per day. The students also prepared a health fair with nutrition education, physical activity promotion through pedometer rentals, and education about blood pressure through a pediatrician.

On Friday we observed students participate in a recipe standardizing lab. We tasted the food that they prepared and filled out a response sheet. It was delicious!

 On the weekend Andrea learned a lot about Japanese religion and culture. On Saturday she went with her host family to take the new family car to the temple. It is tradition in Japan that when you buy a new car to take it to the temple to ward off any evil spirits. For dinner Saturday night we had Basashi (raw horse meat). On Sunday Andrea’s host family took her to Kamakura to see a beautiful temple and a shrine. We also saw the Great Buddha which is a very large Buddha statue that was built in 1252. 

Gretchen spent Saturday morning and afternoon at the busy city Shibuya to look for souvenirs. She then met up with her host family at night for a tempura dinner in Roppongi. On Sunday, she went with her host mother to the same public bath that Andrea had visited last week. It was a very culturally shocking because most people are not clothed! However the baths were very relaxing.


Future Brescia Leaders in Barbados

Girls in Barbados have been chosen to LEAD at camp this summer! Students were selected based on their scores on their 11-plus/Common Entrance Exam, facilitated by the Ministry of Education. Twenty girls who scored on high on their exam were sent an invitation letter by the Ministry in mid-June and are now developing their potential at Brescia’s two-week Girls LEAD International Camp! Check out the Girls Lead Blog for updates.

A Week in Japan

It has been said that one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things (Henry Miller). Through the past week, we have experienced Japan in this way. Our names are Andrea Green and Gretchen Lee, and we are in Chiba, Japan on an exchange program. Chiba is a suburb community 20 km west of central Tokyo. We have been attending Wayo Women’s University with Dr. Garcia, and have been hosted by Japanese families. We have been here for one week now, and would love to tell you about our experiences!

Host Family

We arrived at Narita Airport on Sunday June 10th, after an excruciatingly long 14 hour plane ride. When we arrived, we were driven to Wayo University and met Reiko-sensei, Ikuko-sensei, Etsuko-san (the staff who graciously arranged the exchange program), and our homestay families. Prior to this, we were nervous to meet our families and exhausted from the long trip, but we were welcomed warmly and immediately felt at home. We settled into our new homes, had our first Japanese dinner, and fell asleep.

Welcome Lunch

On Monday, we had our first day of school! We had a welcome lunch, where we met the president of the university, the rest of the faculty, and the 3 students that will be coming to Brescia in the fall. It was evident that they went to great lengths to make us feel comfortable. Ikuko-sensei and Reiko-sensei brought us on a tour of the university. Like Brescia, it’s a small women’s university, with a large nutrition and home economics department. However, unlike Brescia they have a smaller piece of land, and have 3 tall buildings, with another one on the way.

Birthday Dinner

After school Andrea celebrated her host Mother’s birthday with a traditional Japanese meal and Birthday cake. The sushi in Japan is more delicious and fresh than it is in Canada!

Institute of Health and Nutrition

On Tuesday we traveled to Tokyo during rush hour and had our first Japanese subway experience. Everyone was packed into the train like sardines. In Tokyo we visited the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, where we learned about Japan’s approach to health promotion. They have what’s called Health Japan 21which is very similar to Healthy People 2010. We also learned about all the research they do and we got to see their metabolic chamber. It was interesting to see the extent of research that is done at the institute and learn that the government funds it all. In the afternoon we went to a hospital in Tokyo and a dietitian taught us about food service in Japanese hospitals.

Food Sciences Lab

On Wednesday we attended a class similar to our food science labs with Mrs. Mahood. We made fish, a tofu salad and a dessert with glutinous rice balls. There was a big emphasis on presentation of the food; however in our labs at Brescia we focus more on the science aspect. Our second class of the day was a public health class, which was very similar to a statistics class.

Food Group Origami

Thursday morning was spent in a nutrition education class. The teacher showed us how to make an educational food group origami, and the students showed us their hand-made fabric/plush food models. In the afternoon we attended a traditional tea ceremony. We were surprised how precise they are in carrying out this tradition (i.e.: turning the bowl clockwise twice before drinking the tea).

On Friday, we first observed a food preparation class. Unlike the class we participated in on Wednesday, the students here spend all day in the kitchen in order to standardize a chinese meal recipe. We learned that Wayo provides many hands on activities because their internship is only 3 months long, so it is essential that they gain experience at school. We then observed a food science lab demonstration in the afternoon.

We both spent the weekend with our host families and learned a lot about Japanese culture. Gretchen ventured to Askusa to see the Asakusa Kannon Temple on Saturday, a famous temple in Tokyo. Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation at home.

Temple in Tokyo

On Saturday Andrea went to a public bath, where Japanese people go to enjoy some relaxation time. On Sunday she visited her host Grandmother and host Grandfather’s house which is a traditional Japanese style home. Her host Grandmother gave her a Kimono as a gift. Japanese people are so generous and kind.

Update from Japan

Alicia Garcia

Andrea Green, Gretchen Lee and Kryatal Gopaul, are our three Food and nutrition students studying in Japan this summer at Wayo Women’s University in Chiba. They were accompanied by Alicia Garcia, head of Brescia’s Food and Nutritional Sciences program. The four women have been in Japan for almost two months now and are adjusting well to their new settings. Here’s an update from Alicia:


Professors Ikuko and Reiko have kept us very busy so far at Wayo, attending their classes and participating in their activities.  Yesterday, we were in the food lab to prepare a meal: fresh mackerel boiled in ginger and miso (soybean) paste (they asked me if I would gut and cut the fish, which I did like an expert they said), boiled rice and peas, boiled vegetables (carrots, Chinese cabbage, white gelatin from seaweed) and mashed tofu, steamed sticky rice flour with green tea powder and dried apricot and chestnuts in syrup.  After cooking, we arranged the food nicely in individual bowls for each food and ate it with chopsticks and had green tea as beverage.  In the afternoon, we attended a public health nutrition class where we participated in the data analysis of a survey that the students generated.

 Today, the university had photographers following us in classes (taking pictures to use as part of their promo materials for this exchange program).  In the first class, we prepared and colored paper nutrition education materials (shaped like an ‘origami’ when folded and have three hexagons of different foods from their food guide) and they showed us how the students cut up cloth scraps and make food models out of patterns for the ‘obento’ (lunch box).  Andrea and Gretchen loved the hands on work.  In the clinical nutrition class, students were doing a demo on nutrtion counselling and they were using food models similar to ours. 

 The highlight of our afternoon was the 30-minute tea ceremony where we had a geisha mistress directing members of the ‘tea ceremony club’ in showing us how the green tea ‘macha’ is made (in ancient past) and serving it to us with all the flourish of bowing, gesturing and hand placements that we had to follow. Previous to the tea drinking, we were served in a napkin a sticky rice ‘moshi’ with purple-colored gelatin on top that we had to eat with one very short flat bamboo chopstick. Really quite an interesting ceremony and the geisha said that it is one thing we are lucky to have experienced once in our life!


Stay tuned for more updates from Japan!

Community Development takes a BOLD First Step

Elyse Golian and Ashley Hassard are two Brescia students who are currently volunteering in Ghana teaching english at the Sankofa school. Elyse is the first student to go through Brescia’s new Community Development in a Global Context module and will be using this trip as the culmination of her Honours Community Development Project. Elyse is not only a role model for the children in Ghana, but also for students here Brescia!

Sankofa Mbofra Fie is a children’s home for disadvantaged children in Ghana. It provides them with a safe place to sleep, eat and learn. The home believes that with education the children will be able to seek a better life for themselves and help to improve the conditions in their communities for future generations.

Read more about the project on the Brescia web site.

Here’s a note from Elyse about her trip:

“We are working in a small village call Eguafo. David, a Ghana native, owns the school and the orphanage in the village and started both of them about 6 years ago.  There are 18 children aged 6-16 in the orphanage and they all attend the school.  The school in called Sankofa and is one of the only free schools in the Ghana.  It is amazing all the work David had done.

We usually wake up with the rest of the village around 4:30 and go to school around 7:30 until 1 or 2.  If the teachers don’t show up or do not want to teach, which is frequent, then we teach a class or we assist children who need extra help. The school system here is very unorganized and unstructured.

After school we wither the kids from the orphanage in the farm that we all built at the beginning of our trip or we tutor the kids and help them with their homework. The kids are all amazing and it is going to be so difficult to say good-bye to them.

I also can’t believe that it’s almost over! We will be at school all this week and then on Friday we are having a big good-bye party at the orphanage for all the kids and we are hoping to buy a goat for them to breed and sell.”

Here is Sankofa’s website if you want to read more:

Brescia Students in Japan

Three Brescia food and nutrition students, Andrea Green, Gretchen Lee and Kryatal Gopaul, are off to Japan this summer to take a course at Wayo Women’s University in Chiba, Japan. This trip is the beginning of a three year exchange agreement between Brescia and Wayo University!

Andrea Green, Gretchen Lee and Kryatal Gopaul with the Brescia’s head of food and nutritional sciences program Alicia Garcia