On 28 June the Director of the Osaka City University (OCU) Global Exchange Office (since April 2012 working to concentrate the university's international activities), Dr. Nakagawa, joined one day of the JICA Solar Power Generation course and interviewed the 9 participants about their impression of Japan and their expectations of the OCU training program.
Mr. Bituwaqa from Fiji, Mr. Ibrahim from the Maldives, Mr. Sukasuka from Malawi and Mr. Dorji from Bhutan unanimously praised the enthusiasm and friendliness of the OCU lecturers. They also expressed their gratitude to the Graduate School of Engineering students, who have been showing the trainees around after hours and during the weekends. Having said that, there were also some suggestions to the university to organize more social gatherings or parties for international students and researchers staying in the guesthouse, so they can get to know each other. This is something the Global Exchange Office should look into and the Director Dr. Nakagawa was glad to hear their opinions on this.
Since 11 June the trainees have been following lectures for 2.5 hours each morning and 3.5 hours each afternoon, so a total of 6 hours per day. Regarding this intensive course model, the trainees mentioned that on days when the course content is fairly easy, they get tired and it's hard to stay concentrated in the afternoon, but when the content is difficult it is hard to thoroughly understand all the material in one day. The trainees proposed more mixing of difficult and easier subjects or to give lectures in the mornings and practical training in the afternoons. However, as the expertise of each participant is different, which subjects are hard or easy varies per person and per year. This makes it very hard to adjust the program, explained the JICA coordinator of the course. There is no single curriculum that is best for everyone and we have to try and adjust it little by little to best suit each group each year. Still, all trainees are clearly working very hard and diligently to take the things they learn during the course back with them and put them to use setting up, managing and maintaining solar home systems.
One of the trainees had a question about the Global Exchange Office, asking about the role of the Global Exchange Office as a first contact point for the admission of international exchange students, research students, interns and post-docs and whether there are scholarships to obtain a degree from OCU.
The JICA training course will continue at the OCU Graduate School for Engineering until 13 August.
(Background: In 1995 OCU started with the 2-month 'JICA Solar Power Technology and Utilization training course' as a trial project for its international social contributions. The aim was to fulfill the university mission of 'fostering talent' through interdisciplinary research and training in 'Solar power', '(Urban) Lifestyle' and 'Electrification of villages', extending across 4 departments of the Graduate School of Engineering (Physics, Chemistry, Electronics and Architecture). The course trains specialists who can set up, maintain, manage and spread solar home systems to villages and regions that are without electricity supply. Between 1995 and 2005 the program hosted 58 participants from 13 countries (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, New Guinea, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nepal, Tonga, Fiji and Turkey) and between 2008 and 2010 another 16 people from 6 countries (Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Jordan and Tunisia). The exchange program still continues now and is concentrated around the instruction by OCU lecturers. The current JICA Solar Power Generation course will run from 2011 until 2013 and has been hosting trainees from Burundi, Bhutan, Fiji, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Maldives, Tonga and Bolivia, where there is a strong interest in the OCU solar power generation technology course focusing on solar homes. In 2011 9 trainees participated.
Photo of the 9 participants and a professor of the Graduate School of Engineering, during a lecture in the Graduate School of Engineering A-tower on 28 June 2012