January 23, 2008

 APAN 2008

Yumi and I participated in Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APAN2008) at Hawaii University. At e-Culture session, Yumi made a presentation on "Challenging to bond children without using English: ICT supported intercultural communication" and I presented my talk on "Weaving Technologies into Empathetic Intercultural Collaboration among International Children."

After our presentations, we've got many positive comments from the audiences of various countries from Asia to Latin America. They seemed to get very excited by our Pangaea project. I hope we will open Pangaea Activity centers in some of these countries in the future!

Posted by: toshi | 7. R&D | Permalink

January 18, 2008

 Jan 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Happy New Year to all!

At the end of December, the presidential election was held in Kenya. Post-election violence erupted as concerned. As of this writing, the death toll has reached 500. The violent riots have spread to Nairobi, Rift Valley, and Kisumu; and the number of causalities has been increasing. We are launching Pangaea activities in those areas with UNESCO's support this February. The uprising has now turned into tribal conflict. Our Kenyan facilitators split into opposing tribes. The news regarding the outbreak came in during holidays: Pangaea staff members and children had chaotic holidays, and were not in mood to celebrate. Kids have been anxious about their Kenyan friends due to current conditions in Kenya. They emailed their Kenyan friends to ask whether or not they are safe. Kenyan children emailed back with a message: "We believe our country can pull through this condition." We are all praying for keeping them safe every day. I always feel Kenya is my second home because my Kenyan friends often tell me, "Yumi, we believe you are Kenyan. You ARE one of us." CNN has reported on ongoing violence in Kenya, but it is very painful for me to watch the news coverage. I wonder how our kids feel about this awful incident.

We want children to feel sympathy for others. Whenever kids see someone who is in trouble, we want them to ask, "Is he/she O.K.?", rather than to detach themselves from the situation. We think this approach can help children in feeling pain of others and developing personal bonds. As a result, every kid is able to feel closer to others and understand their experiences, regardless of geographical distance. Pangaea has been operated based on the following idea: fostering children's abilities to imagine how others live in different countries or environments can contribute to make the world better. General speaking, it is a rare experience in Japan that someone whom we know becomes a refugee, but it has happened to Pangaea in real life. In Kenya, I've seen children who have gotten along well and been playing together in Pangaea activities, in spite of the fact that they are from a variety of tribes. That is, it is possible to make the world a better place where diverse people can coexist peacefully, which I strongly believe.

I greatly appreciate your continuing support.

The writer of Pangaea Ring of this month is Ms. Keiko Yamamoto, a reporter of NHK(Japan Broadcasting Corporation) Nagoya. She is one of founders of Baratoge, women's networking group with jounalists, business leaders, NPO leaders.

See you next month.


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Jan 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Ms. Keiko Yamamoto

I'm Keiko Yamamoto, a journalist with NHK. Upon joining NHK in 1995, I first worked for the city news department in Tokyo, where I was in charge of reporting on MEXT and so on, then transferred to Nagoya in August, last year. I have been on maternity leave since last December (The baby is due on January 28th!)

My first encounter with Pangaea goes back to the summer of 2003, when I received an e-mail from one of my female friends, Yuri Ozaki, an entrepreneur. Her e-mail expressed her huge excitement about "the meeting with an amazing lady who happened to sit next to me on the plane." Her e-mail continued, "She is Japanese, a researcher at MIT and she has a plan of creating the bond between the children all over the world through internet. We hit it off with each other and drank off all the plum-wine available!" Reading Yuri's e-mail, I had an urge to meet the lady and that is how I met Yumi, the president of Pangaea. Yumi's principles, motivated by 9.11, such as "to make the best use of the most advanced technology of the world for the world peace not for the war" and in order for the best result, "to be based in Japan" instead of in the States, were fascinating to me.

As a journalist, I took it on as my mission to introduce Pangaea by media. Besides broadcasting the program on Pangaea on air, I have also had the privilege of welcoming Yumi as the lecturer to the study group that I host for the female journalists called "Baratoge". Yumi and I have been in touch all this time.

The conflicts, poverty, global-warming and countless other problems exist in the current world. For those problems to be resolved, it is inevitable for us to possess a good sense of imagination and empathy to feel "what if I were in that position", and in order for the good sense of imagination and empathy, it is the key for us to have the sense of bonding with each other. What Pangaea is materializing is not so much "If the World Were a Village of 100 People" but "If the World Were One School, One Class". Those children who are bonded through Pangaea will take the news of the world not just as "somebody else's problem" but as "something that is affecting my own friends" which will lead the children to be more active in looking for things they can do on their part as a "global citizen". As a part of the media, I would hope to continue supporting and recording the activity of Pangaea by means of reporting.

Keiko Yamamoto

r Nagoya branch News Department

Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter , 4. Pangaea Ring | Permalink

January 16, 2008

 Letters to Kenya - Children send their support through pictogram messages

kenyamessage.jpg Whether or not activities in Kenya will recommence still remains undecided at this time. Last weekend at Pangaea activity in Kyoto and Mie, we spoke to the children about the tragic events occurring in Kenya. Even if we do send them messages, we can't be sure of when we will next receive responses. In any case, though, we pray for their safety.

The Japanese children sent pictogram messages of support to the children in Kenya. In a group of three young troublemakers discussing what kinds of messages to send, one child began to write, "Don't Die" when a boy nearby remarked that, if he wrote out the word 'die,' it would probably make the reader sad. Two others nodded at this and drew out another message saying, "Don't cry. Cheer up soon." The boys tried in earnest to think of how the receivers would feel about the messages.

Even though they may be far away from the other children involved in the activities, it seems clear that the Japanese children are not ignoring the disaster. I think this activity marks one more step toward bringing people closer through creativity.

To Jane, our facilitator in Kenya: Please show the children this message as soon as you can.

Posted by: yumi | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

January 15, 2008

 The First Workshop on Field Informatics

I attended The First Workshop on Field Informatics(Only Japanese page is available) at Kyoto University in Japan and I participated in a panel session called "Computers for Children over the World." It is a joint panel session via video-cast with The Sixth International Conference on Creating, Connecting and Collaborating through Computing (C5 2008) which was held in Poitiers, France.

Panelists from Japan side were Prof.Toru Ishida of Kyoto University and I. He made talk on Language Grid and I talked on a technical side of Pangaea project. Panelists from France side were Rick McGee of HP, and Yoshiki Oshima of Viewpoints Research Institute and they talked about update of Squeak and OLPC (One Laptop Per Childre) project. Due to the condition of the video-cast, each of us just introduced our own projects. Through this whole day workshop, I've learned Field Informatics deeper, which is a new interdisciplinary research domain that weaves practical field and informatics academically.

Posted by: toshi | 7. R&D | Permalink

January 01, 2008

 Chaos in Kenya, 2008

Happy New Year to everyone.

UBS_Kidsinthearts.jpg I think most of us are probably peacefully watching TV shows, thinking to ourselves, "well, there goes another year."

At the end of the year in Kenya, where one of Pangaea's branches is located, a close presidential election took place. Before the election results were announced, violence broke out, and 124 died between the 27th of December and today, according to this morning's newspaper. In Kisumu, where Pangaea is attempting to start activities in February, many casualties were suffered. It seems that this happens with every election, and because of this we set back the starting date from December to February, when we hope a calmer period will begin.

Nairobi also seems to have experienced violent activities, but it seems that the areas hit worst were the slum districts' community centers, which had agreed to begin participating in activities with us. Seeing the pictures of places we have connections to made us very worried. Before starting Pangaea, I think we probably would have viewed these unfeelingly, stopping only to say, "well, I guess that's what happens after elections." But now that we know people living in such places, we feel truly worried and send lots of emails and browse the internet for more information.

The first time we went to Kenya was in 2002. Within the past 6 years, the country has seen much growth, and it seems that many things have changed. Crime in the city seems to be much the same as always, but locations outside downtown have started to see their markets well-stocked, and the passengers that used to ride sticking out of buses and cars have now begun to wear seatbelts. There have been dramatic improvements in traffic rules. And though they're busy, the Kenyans have an energy like that of the families in the good old days, working together for a better future - it's an energy that seems hard to come by even in Japan these days.

The smiles of children in every country are the same. They are smiles that make us happy.

Here's to a new year without further casualties.

Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink