This month’s feature school trip:

In February 2019 the Jumeriah English Speak School (JESS) from Dubai, UAE, travelled with Student Educational Adventures on a Business & Technology trip to Japan.

Among the several programs and activities featured on this trip was a special excursion to the Fukushima Nuclear zone. A most unlikely travel program to be sure, this day trip was initiated after much discussion and consideration by teachers and parents from this leading international IB school.

The school board and parents agreed it would be a very valuable experience that was initiated so students could learn not only of the tumultuous events of 2011 following a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami disaster but moreover, the efforts by the Japanese people to rebuild and reimagine a future for this prefecture. The activity was also started so students could learn of Japan’s World’s Best Practice approach to renewable energy and environment improvement.

NB: This safe and controlled excursion has naturally been fully sanctioned by the Japanese Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (www.iaea.org)

Isabelle’s Experience

“We set off very early after breakfast on a bullet train from Tokyo in time to experience this teeming city come to life. I was amazed at the development as I stared outside my train window, viewing mile after mile of concrete barriers stretching all the way along the coast up to Iwaki where we disembarked. On arrival, we were issued with geiger counters which were as interesting as it was slightly unnerving!. Our local guide however quickly alieved our fears by explaining that the amount of radiation we expected to ingest on our excursion that day was roughly equivalent to what we would be exposed to on a typical international flight.

Our first stop was the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Information Center where we toured an interactive nuclear plant exhibition space and spoke to engineers about the disaster during a really good Q& A session. From here we travelled up the coast of Japan to visit a newly built school which educates just 6 students as many families have never returned to the area after the Tsunami! Later we visited the main town that was levelled by the Tsunami which is slowly being reclaimed as well as lookout area about 4 kilometres for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

As we journey up the coast our local tour guides explained to us about the efforts that have been made in introducing new industries and technologies to the prefecture, which a is now a sea of wind and solar farms the likes of which I have not even seen in Dubai. That day we visited a hi-tech hydrogen production plant where they spoke to engineers about the technologies Japan has developed since the events in Fukushima, and the issues and

challenges of using this versatile fuel technology. We were also able to drive hydrogen power go-carts which were amazing. The hydrogen plant we visited powers the whole neighboring town (all be it very small) which was highly interesting also. Although I must confess most the science was over my head, some of my brainier classmates seemed to understand most of it!

I have reflected a lot on this visit since returning home and am always eager to share with my friends and family my thoughts on this experience. Whilst most people agree that it must have been a great experience, some have expressed concerns about my reason for wanting to visit Fukushima, using the term ‘Dark tourism’ – liking our school’s visit there to a visit to Chernobyl or Auschwitz.

To me, Fukushima is a place of hope and a lesson in resilience. I am so glad we could visit this place and learn about the efforts of the Japanese people to move on. Indeed, it provided me with a unique insight into the Japanese approach to energy as well as the resilience of a culture that I can only imagine has suffered more than most from the effects of nuclear energy. Our trip touched on the themes of the development of countermeasures, decontamination and environmental awareness as well as renewable energy and as well as the social influences of the disaster. “

— Isabelle W. JESS UAE.

Please note: an excursion to Fukushima can be enjoyed in conjunction with any Student Educational Adventures’ Japanese immersion program. Our Business & Technology itineraries can also include among many other activities the following programs:

  • An excursion to Toyota to see the company’s design world headquarters & manufacturing plants
  • A Japanese etiquette class
  • A sumo experience or Japanese ‘Kendo’ martial arts experience
  • A visit to the JAXA Japanese space agency (note: this could confidence with a launch)
  • A visit to a leading Japanese firm such as Sony, Dunlop or Yonnex to learn of the Japanese approach to business
  • An appointment with the Bank of Japan to learn more about the Asian financial system

These activities are just some of the many other commerce & technology-focused activities we can arrange for your students.