Wellantcollege stimulates excellence, among other things with international skills competitions and extra challenging internships. Three VET students from Wellant recently completed their internship in Japan. The students had an unforgettable experience in a totally different culture and learned a lot!
Stuart, third-year Food student, did an internship at Tamaruya Honten, producer of wasabi. Wasabi is a very sharp spice that is often used in Japanese cuisine. The plant itself is freshly ground (traditionally on shark skin). In the factory some ingredients are added to the wasabi and this is ground into a paste that has a longer shelf life. Stuart has worked at the plantation, in the factory and in the restaurant. It is striking that the chefs in this restaurant usually study eighteen (!) years before they can practice the profession, but Stuart was already provided the opportunity. A great honour.
Nathalia, also a third-year Food student, has done her internship at Maruyama Tea Products Corporation, producer of matcha, a powdered green tea from Japan. During her internship, she became acquainted with many aspects within the company: planting tea plants, harvesting the best tea leaves, carefully pulverizing tea leaves into powder, tasting tea to guarantee quality and to meet the specific wishes of the customer, pouring tea and preparing desserts with matcha. In addition, Nathalia has also developed new cocktail and tuna recipes with the tea. Her most memorable experience was on the plantation at night, picking tea under the full moon with nice music in the background.
Exclusive seedlings and traditional Japanese building techniques
Michael, a third-year Urban Green Development student, has done an internship at Yokomura Eco-lodge, a company that builds a guesthouse from sustainable materials with traditional Japanese building techniques that do not require any screws or nails. They use locally available materials as much as possible, including trees from their own forest. In addition, this company produces exclusive organic seedlings that are used as a garnish by Japanese top chefs. On the one hand Michael has helped build the house and on the other hand cultivated and sown the land with seeds for the production of the seedlings. He also helped with the maintenance of the site and provided marketing advice.
Japan versus the Netherlands
Japan and the Netherlands face the same challenges in areas such as food safety, water and environment, and aging. In both countries, the population density is high and the complexity of society is of a comparable level. However, everything in Japan takes place on a much larger scale: the country is nine times as large as the Netherlands and has more than seven times as many inhabitants. In addition, there are extreme cultural differences and the way of thinking and acting is often completely different than in the Netherlands. Japan is known for its high quality standards, unique cuisine and beautiful gardens. For the Dutch students, the most striking thing about Japanese society was its order, cleanliness, hospitality and that people to a higher age (70+) are still involved in the company and also do physical work on land.