Students from Taiwan Make Annual Pilgrimage to Jiba

The Students Association of Taiwan organized its annual Students’ Pilgrimage from August 16 to 27 with the participation of 26 students. While the participants were in the Home of the Parent, they took part in various activities including doing corridor-cleaning hinokishin; crossing the Jusan Pass on foot to follow in the footsteps of Kokan, Oyasama’s youngest daughter; and having an exchange program with Japanese students. They also attended the August Monthly Service of Church Headquarters on the 26th. During the pilgrimage, 19 participants, including 14 first-timers, listened to the Besseki lectures.

The Students Association of Taiwan, which was established eight years ago, has developed its activities with an emphasis on promoting participation in the Students’ Pilgrimage and holding the annual convention and bimonthly gatherings. The pilgrimage is unique in that it draws many students who did not grow up in Tenrikyo families. This year, the pilgrimage group included nearly 20 participants from non-Tenrikyo families as a result of recruitment efforts made by association members.

After conducting the opening ceremony at the Mission Headquarters in Taiwan on the 16th, the group returned to Jiba the next day. One of the staff members, Mr. Chen Yen-chang, 25, who used to be chairman of the association, said that as a student he had never missed participating in the Students’ Pilgrimage. “I feel that the effort to invite friends to join our pilgrimages to Jiba led to increasing numbers of participants in other association activities back home as well,” he said, adding, “I would like to fulfill my role so that the first-time participants will want to return to Jiba again next year.”

On the 22nd, the participants had an exchange program with 22 Japanese college students of the faith including those involved with the association activities in the Home of the Parent, as well as those aspiring to contribute to the overseas mission in the future. Held at Sansai-no-Sato, which is Tenrikyo’s youth center for outdoor activities, the exchange program consisted of a warm-up exercise, some get-to-know-each-other activities led by staff members from the Students Advisory Committee, and a walk rally in which the participants were divided into small groups and enjoyed some games at eight spots on the way to the goal.

Despite the language barrier, the students managed to communicate with one another using body language. Mr. Cheng Tzu-hung, 20, decided to participate in the pilgrimage on the recommendation of his mother, who takes lessons from a Japanese missionary at a Japanese language class in Taiwan. “The exchange program with students in Tenri was so much fun. I would like to come back next year because I’m interested in the Tenrikyo teachings,” he said.

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