Mayra Monreal: Nico Nico Tomato

Volunteering at Kyoto University Hospital has been an enriching experience. Going into it, I believed I would interact a lot with the child patients much like how I have done while volunteering in hospitals in America. However, it appears to be different in Japan as the children usually have an escort nurse with them at all times to keep them company. We volunteers would take part in the playroom activity of the day more as a model rather than a playmate. That does not mean, though, that I was not able to interact with others. Most of my time has been spent in the Volunteer room where all the volunteers create arts and crafts projects to hand out to the patients and visitors. All in all there would be about seven or so people in the volunteer room, which is a somewhat small space, and time would be spent conversing. Being able to understand the others, I would find it easy to follow along in a conversation. The volunteers are very kind as they speak with me, helping correct me if I were to make a mistake.

The volunteers consist of mostly older women, and they are always up for conversation. They want to know as much about your own culture as you want to know about theirs, so there is always something to talk about. Considering that I volunteer in the fall, there are events and crafts that follow the themes of Halloween and Christmas. I asked about what is done to celebrate these holidays in Japan, and the volunteer women provided that they were not really sure how Halloween became popular in Japan. Apparently, its popularity started rising in Japan about 10 years ago. The same goes for Christmas. Those holidays are more of a casual occurrence than they are taken to be in America. There are even events held at the hospital for these holidays, though sadly I am not available to partake in either. Hopefully, others interested in volunteering are able to partake in more activities and learn even more from their experience.

4 thoughts on “Mayra Monreal: Nico Nico Tomato

  1. Hi Mayra! It sounds like you had a lot of fun. I have never volunteered at a hospital before so I don’t really know what to expect. It’s interesting that the children have a nurse to accompany them. Also, I would expect that you would go there to play, not to be a model for them. Very interesting. We read something about the holidays in class, didn’t we? About how they celebrate Christmas very casually in Japan. It sounds like a good experience that you saw that first hand. The Japanese practice also seems very valuable. It’s always nice to talk to nice people while doing fun activities.

    • Yes, it was good to go to CIP with the knowledge gained from class. I was able to ask them questions based on our topics, and even used some phrases we learned in class. It was a great way to practice my Japanese in a casual environment. The volunteers found it charming if I were to make a mistake, so I wasn’t really intimidated.

  2. Hi Mayra! It seems like your CIP was fun and rewarding! I would also have assumed that a volunteer at a children’s hospital would be mostly spending time with the children, so it’s really interesting to hear how you spent time with the other volunteers. It seems like you guys were able to share a lot with each other!

    • Yep! It was pretty fun, though some of the crafts were a bit difficult to make or cut. However, the other volunteers always offered advice on what to do and always had work made available to us.