Bridging Cultures: The Inspiring Journey of Narayan and Manju GurJar as HelloWorld Hosts

Hello everyone! This is the HelloWorld Host Team. This week we would like to share with you the experience of one of our hosts, Narayan and Manju GurJar, an inspiring couple from India.

Narayan, the husband, is not only a passionate scientist working at OIST but also an entrepreneur who founded a company called EF Polymer. His journey to Okinawa started at the young age of 18, leading to remarkable achievements. Manju, recently arrived to Okinawa, ready to start her adventures in this beautiful island.

When we asked them which was their motivation to host, they shared with us the wonderful concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, a goal that they hold dear of sharing cultures and goodness as much as possible.

Let’s find out more about it through their words!

We believe in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” meaning “The World Is One Family”

—How come did you join us as a host family? 

My husband, Narayan, suggested hosting for the HelloWorld Program, which would allow me to achieve my goal and also I wanted to connect with the people here so that I could teach them my Sanskriti and understand Sanskriti from them. By the way, Sanskriti means “Culture” in Hindi.

—Sounds interesting, please tell us more about your goal!

In India, we believe in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning “the world is one family.” Our goal is to respect everyone and share cultures and goodness as much as possible, so we can understand the whole world from one place.

Moving from one country to another reveals many differences. India is a country where we all live, eat, and drink together. However, upon arriving in Japan, we felt a lack of community. We wanted to connect with the people here to share our culture with them and to learn about their culture in return. Whenever we go back to India, we feel proud to have learned from Japan and to have shared the best aspects of our cultures with each other.

Initially, this idea seemed simple, but it proved challenging due to the language barrier, as most people here speak Japanese. If we wanted to connect with people, we realized we would need to teach in Japanese. Hosting for HelloWorld has been a wonderful opportunity for us and for the children to explore global cultures. We’ve just joined HelloWorld, but we are eager to do it more.

—We really enjoyed seeing your pictures with the students while you were hosting. Especially seeing how you cooked together and shared a lot of aspects of your culture!

Yes! We welcomed the students in the traditional Indian style, applying kumkum on their foreheads and giving them chocolates. The students’ smiles showed they were very happy.

Together, we cooked Indian food, Dal Bati Churma, and the funniest moment came while making buttermilk. We played some traditional Indian games, practiced meditation, yoga, and chanted mantras on the beach, finding peace in meditation.

We made Indian breakfast “Upma” and enjoyed traditional Indian dance the most. We laughed a lot when a student danced Ghoomar, a traditional Indian dance. The children were thrilled to wear Indian costumes and play the roles of the Indian gods Radhe Krishna. The most enjoyable time was at night when we did indoor activities, like making paper airplanes, and laughed a lot because the paper airplanes kept flying toward the washroom 🤣

ーThat’s wonderful to hear! Would you recommend this program to other international families in Okinawa?

Absolutely!! As a host family, our experience was very positive. We had a lot of fun hosting. We learned some Japanese words and about Japanese culture. We found some similarities between Indian and Japanese cultures. Hosting is enjoyable and enriching. Sharing daily life with students is very easy. After hosting once, you’ll likely want to do it again and again.

The experiences that sometimes you cannot get in months, we were able to get it in just two-three days with the students, and it was invaluable. “Enjoy being a child with children, everything will become easy.” Thank you so much HelloWorld for this golden opportunity to learn about your culture and language.

A letter from the students

Dear Manju and Narayan

Thank you for your help for 3 days.
We ate chapati, chai, curry etc for for the first time. But everything was very tasty.

We all had a lot of dancing together.
It was our first experience meditation on the ocean and it felt great.

We were so happy that we looked so cute in our Indian dresses.
Thank you! ありがとう!

As Manju and Naranyan have been doing, by becoming a host you can experience cultural exchange from your own home. Our program is an opportunity to engage with your local community, and for them it was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture and share their own life and beliefs.

Through the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program, our amazing Host Families share their culture and their daily life with Japanese students by welcoming them into their homes. No matter if you are an experienced or a new host, our program is an opportunity for you to join a vibrant international community and make wonderful connections. If you are interested in learning more about it, we suggest taking a look at our previous Host Voice issue, “A Newfound Passion for Hosting Through Our Program“.

What is the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program?

HelloWorld provides educational experiences to connect international families living in Japan with locals who want to learn about diverse cultures. Through our Cultural Exchange Program, Japanese students who are unable to go abroad get to spend 24-48 hours at the homes of international families and get to experience the world in their own city.

So far, over 200+ host families have joined our program and 8000+ students have taken part in our cultural exchange.

Find more details on how to join us here!