For my CIP I volunteered at NicoNico Tomato, a Kyoto University Hospital volunteering organization dedicated to children who are unable to leave the hospital due to their illnesses. As someone who had the experience of volunteering in several schools, mental facilities and senior homes, I was expecting a somewhat similar experience at NicoNico Tomato. However, the volunteers at NicoNico Tomato had shown me a whole new level of commitment and care that made my experience at Kyoto University Hospital unique and unforgettable. From making small Christmas gift baskets for children to decorating the entire playroom into a Halloween themed photoshoot, the volunteers showed incredible attention to details and ensured that the children in the hospitals are getting the experience they would get if they were able to attend schools.
Although I did not get to interact with the hospitalized children as much as I would like to, I spent a lot of time making crafts and decorations with the other volunteers of the organization. We would often sit around the table and chat while we handmade gifts and cards for the children. At first it was hard to have conversations with the other volunteers because most of the volunteers at Niconico Tomato are slightly older and already know each other quite well. However, they were all extremely friendly and loved to listen to my stories as a 留学生 in Japan. Therefore, as I spent more time with them, having conversations became easier and more natural. They shared videos of their grandchildren and pets with me, taught me how to act appropriately when talking to elders in Japan, and even gave me advice on how to be a independent and happy young adult. These are the things that I never expected to get from a volunteering service in a hospital. As a KCJS student in Doshisha, you find yourself surrounded by people who are more or less similar to you. By joining NicoNico Tomato, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and meet some Japanese people who shared my passion and are more experienced in life. Their loving and compassionate personality not only made my experience in the hospital memorable, enriched my entire study abroad experience, but also inspired me to continue to devote myself to volunteering.