The 2003 Oyasato Seminar began on July 10 with 58 participants from seven countries. Initially launched in the summer of 1984 to provide instruction in English on Oyasama’s teachings for children of church head ministers and fellowship heads in the United States and Canada, the program has been conducted for years in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese as well. There were 37 students from the U.S., Canada, and Australia in the English Course (21 in Course I and 16 in Course III), 11 students from Mexico and Ecuador in the Spanish Course, and 10 students from Brazil in the Portuguese Course. The Chinese Course was cancelled this year due to the international outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
This year’s English Course I counselors were Timothy Ike and Terri Miyamoto and English Course III counselors were Scot Mikuni and Jaclyn Kokuryo. The doctrine teacher for both English courses was Sean Yuge. All four counselors as well as the doctrine teacher were once participants in the Oyasato Seminar English Course.
The English Course I ended on July 27 along with the Spanish and Portuguese courses. The content of the English Course I included studying and discussing the teachings in a classroom setting; learning the dance and musical instruments for the service; crossing the Jusan Pass on foot; experiencing a mission caravan to Hiroshima; performing the service with students of other courses; and engaging in various hinokishin tasks, such as earth-carrying hinokishin. By engaging in these activities, the students not only came to familiarize themselves with the atmosphere and environs of Jiba, the Home of the Parent, but also strengthened the bond of their friendship with one another.
The English Course III, which continued until August 12, differed from its Course I counterpart in that the program was not limited to studying and discussing the teachings in a classroom setting or learning the dance and musical instruments for the service, but also included such activities as listening to the Besseki lectures; doing missionary work and community service in Nara; standing on guard at the Main Sanctuary with members of the Precincts Section of Church Headquarters; receiving the truth of Sazuke; and engaging in door-to-door missionary work with members of the Aichi Missionary House. The missionary work in Aichi became the climax of the program as a whole, where the students, despite their intensive schedule, spent a whole week engaging in door-to-door missionary work in high spirits so as to fulfill their mission as Yoboku.
Michael Yukimoto, a Course III student, said: “Conveying the teachings to those whom you cannot communicate with in your own language is very challenging. I can imagine how much hardship my grandfather must have undergone, having immigrated to the U.S. from Japan as a missionary. Now that I have actually experienced a part of what my grandfather went through, I am proud of him as a great missionary.” Another Course III student by the name of Colette Wong said: “During the missionary work, there were people who were interested in listening to us, knowing that we are from overseas. As I started telling them about the teachings, I soon realized that I could not explain the teachings in detail, and ended up having to ask our staff for help. If possible, I’d like to study Japanese at Tenrikyo Language Institute after I graduate from high school.”