King’s Academy, December 9, 2014 – Three lucky King’s Academy juniors got the opportunity of a lifetime when they travelled to Japan last month with His Majesty King Abdullah II as part of the Jordanian Youth Delegation program.
The initiative, which began in 2007, offers Jordanian students who have demonstrated strong academic performance and class attendance the chance to meet His Majesty and represent Jordan in the country they are visiting.
Selected from King’s Academy were Celina Masannat, Aisha Malhas and Rami A’yesh in addition to five students from the International Academy Amman (IAA) and Jordanian youth NGO Kuluna al Urdun. Faculty Member and Japan native Ryuji Yamaguchi chaperoned the group and lent his expertise on Japanese culture and tradition throughout the trip, which took place from November 16 to 23.
“To see Tokyo with Mr. Ryuji, who knows the city so well, really helped us learn more about the culture and understand it better,” said Malhas. “It was an opportunity to see something we’ve never seen before, and I felt that it was very educational overall.”
The delegation toured some of the country’s holiest sites (Shinto shrine Meiji Jingu and Buddhist temple Sensō-ji), visited Mount Fuji and two of the Five Fuji Lakes (Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Saiko), and embarked on a river cruise down the Sumida River. In addition, they traveled to the popular Asakusa district and the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, where they explored the topic of fault lines along the south-eastern coast of Japan and the impact of earthquakes.
“It was my first time going to the Far East. It was such a unique experience and everyone made us feel welcome and at home – never awkward or foreign,” said A’yesh. “I began learning Japanese when I was in fourth grade. You can say I’m a big fan of eastern cultures!”
An authentic sushi experience and traditional Japanese tea ceremony were also on the agenda as was a trip to the Panasonic Center and Waseda University, where the group learned about the Japanese education system.
“You learn a lot from being in a completely different place with new people and new surroundings,” said Masannat. “It teaches you how to communicate with others.”
The trip also provided insight into what is currently happening in Jordan from a technological standpoint as well as possible future plans for the country, added Malhas.
“After seeing how efficient and high tech everything is in Tokyo, it made me want to improve in any way I can and become the best version of myself,” she said.
But the trio agreed it was lunch with His Majesty at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that was the highlight of the trip. Also in attendance were HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein.
“It didn’t feel like I was sitting next to royalty because everyone was so down to earth. His Majesty was very open with us,” said Masannat. “I feel so lucky to have had the chance to do something like this. It’s a great opportunity to see for yourself how His Majesty is trying to improve the country. He really listens to you and your ideas.”