Kaneisha Payton: Kyoto Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)


The more I volunteered at the YWCA, the more I came to like it. I wanted to help out at an organization that supports women, and the YWCA allowed me to do just that. There are various ways you can volunteer at the YWCA, ranging from assisting with event organization to answering phones on the women’s crisis hotline. Although I did spend an evening at the crisis center, where I learned about some of the more prevalent problems (including domestic violence, abandonment, and employment issues) that women in Japan— particularly, non-Japanese women —face, I ended up choosing to volunteer in the after school childcare program. This program facilitates free childcare to whoever needs it, and even provides meals in the event that the parent needs to work late.  Simply knowing that the service was so necessary was fulfilling.

My favorite part of the experience, however, was definitely hanging out with Chinatsu-chan. During my time there, Chinatsu-chan was the only kid who showed up regularly. Usually, another volunteer and I made sure she did her homework, then passed the time with games or letting her read borrowed manga. I loved hearing her chat about school life and her friends. It taught me a little bit about what the Japanese school system is like from a student’s perspective— from having to clean the classroom to playing surprisingly complicated hand games for the sake of becoming 仲がいい. Moreover,  a lot of her stories were pretty hilarious. She was very energetic, though, so it was occasionally hard to keep up with her. Once, in an attempt to channel her energy, I tried to teach her a bit of kung-fu. It was definitely memorable. As someone interested in teaching English in Japan after graduation, I’m very grateful to have had this experience, but I would recommend volunteering here to anyone with an interest in a laid-back way to be involved in a close-knit community, or working in an environment that supports women.

4 thoughts on “Kaneisha Payton: Kyoto Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)

  1. This is an awesome place to volunteer, I think. You’re getting to see a side of Japanese life that most people (or just foreigners?) wouldn’t get to see. It seems like you had a really good experience. Are you involved with the YWCA in America too? I wonder how the YWCA in Japan and America compare.

    • It definitely is! It was a fantastic experience, and I’ll definitely visit again if I ever get the chance. I’m not, but now I would like to. That’s a good question, it’d be interesting to find out!

  2. Very interesting! I’m glad you found an opportunity that that more or less matches your post-college interests. Does the YWCA facility you work in have any specific expectations towards how you should be handling the children? I wonder if there is a difference in parenting/child-caring methods that are reflective of cultural differences between the states and Japan.

  3. Thanks! They really just wanted me to make sure the kids did their homework, then keep an eye on them. I was also encouraged to chat and play with them, and I got the impression that a more laid-back attitude towards the kids was encouraged. I wondered about that too! I’m sure it varies with family and region, but from what I’ve seen, a more hands-off approach is pretty normal.