Part one is here⇒Part 1 :From Reutte

In the last article, I talked about what it was like to introduce 6 Austrian young people to the best parts of Oshu. Now, I’ll discuss how 5 Oshu city high school students responded to their first international journey to Reutte/Breitenwang, Austria.

These high school students had already gotten to know their Austrian counterparts during their visit to Japan. Everyone got a chance to try using English as a common language, and since nobody spoke it as a first language, the focus was on communication, as opposed to flawless grammar. They would also teach each other basic Japanese and German words, or use apps and gestures to communicate. Thanks to these friendships being built in advance, everybody was ready and looking forward to the trip.

We touched down in Vienna, where we spent one night, before being happily reunited in Reutte and Breitenwang the next day. 
               (Partial group photo with our welcome poster, after being reunited in Breitenwang.)

That night, we attended a welcome party, where the Austrian participants played a beautiful slideshow of their time in Japan. The Japanese participants got a reminder of how extraordinary their hometown truly is, while the Reutte/Breitenwang side learned a bit about what their young people were lucky enough to experience.
                                                (Full group photo at the welcome party.)

Our stay was short, but the participants were able to enjoy it to the fullest, and I think the values of their hometown enabled them to do so. Specifically, helping others, hospitality, and cultivating human relationships are considered to be very important here. When they were encountering a range of unfamiliar situations, they relied on each other, which emboldened them to continue to challenge themselves.
                 (Our whole group, in traditional clothes, in front of the Breitenwang-Oshu sign.)

  I have to say, once more for emphasis, that this is a wonderful opportunity that both cities create for their young people. Being able to have this kind of experience at such an impressionable age will have an impact on the rest of their lives, I think. Indeed, some of the final impressions that the Oshu participants have expressed are: that this was a valuable experience, that they wished we could’ve stayed longer, that they want to come back, or that that they’ve become interested in living overseas in the future. No matter what path they ultimately take, the skills they’ve developed will serve them well. If these are the kind of young people who are growing up in Oshu, I have high hopes for our future.
In Austria, people hailing from various countries live together with mutual respect. In the event of the ILC becoming a reality, many researchers and their families will come from overseas to Iwate and Oshu; thus, I feel that we too need to develop this stance.
Still, I think we have a good starting point. When I’m asked what I like about Iwate, I usually mention how kind the people are. This kindness is a direct result of a culture that emphasizes mutually relying on and supporting each other. Overseas researchers and their families, who are fortunate enough to spend any amount of time here, are likely to get to experience this classic Iwate selflessness.
Year on year, more international residents are settling in Iwate in general, and Oshu in particular. Given this trend, combined with the possibility of the prospective ILC, it’s my hope that programs like this will contribute to building up a population that has empathy and tolerance towards people from other countries.