Global Citizen — Mai

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What’s the difference between Volunteering in Canada and in Japan?

When I lived in Japan, I didn’t study how to volunteer in school. Like many Japanese people, I was not interested in volunteering.

There’re lots of earthquakes in Japan, and sometimes we have had big earthquakes. At that time, the media using commercial messages and TV programs, called on us to donate.

I feel so sad and want to help people who really need our help, but I have just donated money to them. I have never been to the location of a disaster.

There’re many volunteer groups in Japan, but I couldn’t trust them, because I’ve watched some news which showed volunteer groups committed fraud by volunteering. As a result, there is a big misunderstanding between Japanese people and volunteering because of the media.

When I arrived in Canada, I was surprised at Canadian personalities. They’re so kind and friendly! I thought Japanese people are kind too, but their kindness is of a different quality.

Why did I think this way? I have had lots of experience about that since I arrived here. One of my most amazing moments was the time when I rode a bus. One day the bus was very crowded. An elderly person rode on the bus; then people noticed him and lots of people gave up their seat for him.

In Japan, in the same situation, we don’t give up our seat easily like Canadians because we feel embarrassed and don’t want to talk with strangers. In our culture, if we see a person who gives up the seat to someone, we feel they’re not a shy person and have too much confidence. In your country, have you ever given up your seat? How about here?

In this situation, Canadians and Japanese have a completely different cultures. I know this example is such a small one to explain our cultural differences. But it describes our opposite cultures very well.

I think Canadian people think volunteering is not so difficult. Just in my opinion, they might naturally learn how to help people without being embarrassed because they do lots of volunteering and have many experiences like this one on the bus since they were young.

We all have to learn the great volunteer culture from Canada. Japanese people, let’s throw out our embarrassment and shyness. It’ll be the first step that we will get more and more happy all over Japan.

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