March 10, 2008

 Webcam Activity between Vienna and Mie: Report from Mie

20080308_mie02.jpg Finally, the event we've all been waiting for - the Webcam Activity between Mie and Vienna. This time, I participated in Mie. Last year we experienced activities with Korea and Kyoto via webcam, so this is the third activity.

About half the children here will be interacting with foreigners for their very first time. Excluding one child who said he'd be absent for the activity, 23 participated - that's a record for this year. There are even kids who came breathless from running to get to the event.
When discussing what to draw for the matching game, the children decided on the images one by one, freely giving their own individual opinions but also working together as a group to decide. The child that is usually the most quiet took on a leadership role, deciding one image right after another, and our facilitator Spike looked on in amazement.

When it came time for the webcams, everyone was super excited! Vienna won at Koetsuna, but the children from Vienna returned to the screen, saying, "One more time! One more time!", and so we enjoyed one more round of Koetsuna. Regardless of victory or defeat, everyone was able to enjoy the activity and forget their nervousness.

During the matching game, a new discovery was also made. In Vienna (Europe), the sun is yellow and chocolate is black. In Japan, the sun is red while chocolate is brown. Everyone found this interesting.

This time we took a survey of the children in the participating country. Before the event, "no particular impressions" seemed to be the overwhelming response, and there was only one person who had responded with "really like." 6 responded with "like," and 14 responded with "normal." [These answers are in response to the question, what do you think of Japanese children?]

Mie is this year's last activity. After the activity, when we asked who wants to come again next year, pretty much everyone raised their hands! This year, many extended their support to the Mie activities. Thanks to everyone, we've been able to create a place that's very important to the children. We're all very grateful to have been able to borrow this space.

Thank you so much, everyone. We'll be looking forward to next year.

Takekazu Hanada (Hanapooh)
NPO Pangaea Chief Administrative Officer

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

March 08, 2008

 Mar 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello Everyone,

I am writing this newsletter on an airplane, heading for Paris via Amsterdam. I am going to be a loner business woman in Europe for a week. Well, I have a long list of topics to share.

In January, we presented our report regarding this year's activities to the Tsu City Board of Education. The huge room was packed with a lot of people. After our presentation, one of school principals, supporting our projects, raised his hand to share the following stories with us. The school principal had been anxious about his students who are very playful, since he found out that those kids have joined Pangaea activities. A few months later, he recognized some changes in those children's behaviors: the playful children became attentive listeners. The school principal also observed that some students came to active from passive by participating in our activities. They now comfortably initiate conversations with others. Because the significant changes caught the school principal's eye, he came to our activity site to figure out what's going on with those students. I am very aware that those kids learned very critical skills for living in a diverse world through our activities: they now know how to listen to and interact with others. It may be a bit premature to say that it takes only a few months for children to develop appropriate behaviors. However, I've seen many children who learned basic social skills by attending our activities for 6 months.

The members of the Tsu City Board of Education have amazed me in many ways. These are what I usually see during our activities in Tsu city. Whenever we provide our activities there, a number of school teachers enthusiastically visit our activity site, in spite of the bad weather. Kids show up and exchange greetings with guests, including school teachers. They seem to be a bit destructed with visitors until the first activity begins. Yet, once an activity starts, those children are fully engaged in the given activities: it appears that they don't care whether or not there are audiences watching their activities. On the other hand, school teachers show their warmth and caring toward kids in the course of activities. I have been completely blown away by school teachers in Tsu city, as well as the members of the Tsu City Board of Education. In Tsu city, I have seen many children who are very open-minded. It is obvious that arduous work by school teachers in Tsu city has enabled children to develop their positive attitudes.

My next topic will bring you up to date on the situation in Kenya. UNESCO/Kenya staff members informed that the current situation in Kenya has slightly improved since the last month, but they need to reevaluate conditions to implement our projects. After conducting reassessment, they will let us know whether or not we can carry out our projects in Kenya. We were collecting pictogram messages for these two months, and sent them out to Kenya. Jane(The manager of Pangaea Kenya) emailed me back from Kenya with the following message.

A Message from Jane:
I have seen all the messages from Pangaea and they are so beautiful and encouraging. I went through them over and over again and late into the night. To see all those children who care about us and are reaching out to help us in healing gives me joy & strength, more than I can express. Tell them from us we are so grateful. We are encouraged. We know we have true friends.
There is no denying the huge effect on Kenyans and especially on our children, innocent victims.
Efforts by Kofi Anan are helping, but it will be a while before we settle again.
One of the amazing things we have seen is while there is terror on one end, there is also lots of genuine love from fellow kenyans. People have generously donated and supported all those in need. This is the Kenya we know. People have given shelter to complete strangers, provided food and clothing and sent children to different schools. Pray with us for complete healing.

Jane Gatonye
The manager of Pangaea Kenya

Some pictogram messages was uploaded to here.
Please go and read it.

The writer of Pangaea Ring of this month is Ms. Aya Fukuda, a Program Officer of Peace and Conflict Studies Global Campus Program Office of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan. She is a volunteer staff at Pangaea Activity in Tokyo, and translation volunteer.

See you next month!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Mar 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Ms. Aya Fukuda

Hello, my name is Aya Fukuda. I am currently working at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies as a Program Officer of Online Lecture for Peace and Conflict Studies which aims at collaboration of knowledge by connecting classrooms transcending national boundaries. I met Pangaea through a journalist, Kaori, who had been reporting Pangaea on her news paper. Very soon after I heard about Pangaea, I applied a position of a volunteer. It was really impressive at the first time that I met Pangeans. I strongly felt that the contemporary globalizing world needs Pangaea because of its philosophy and positive atmosphere.

When I was a university student, I experienced the 'trigger' prompting me to join Pangaea. I was belonging to a student group called 'Japan - Middle East student conference' and visited Gaza camps in Palestine. There were opportunities to interview inhabitants in Gaza Camps. Mainly they talked about was the animosity towards Israel. They seemed not to have freedom of move or occasions of meeting other cultures and different people. They seemed to live just in their world. Although it was in daytime on weekdays, children who peeped at us beside a wall were not going to school. On the way to leave there, we were 'attacked' on our back by those children throwing stones or trash. They might try to get us - 'unknown people' - out from their place by imitating adults' attitudes. I found the circle of animosity beyond generations. Afterwards, '9.11', the main reason of the establishment of Pangaea, was happened. I keenly realized the importance of education and communication to 'know' unknowns.

Computer technology which has been developing rapidly enables disseminating education and promoting communication positively without moving domicile. Conflicts can be happened anywhere not only among nations but also in family, classrooms or work places since all individual has different perspective towards world even if they are sharing the same community or society. Therefore, it is indispensable to 'know' each other and foster tolerance and kindness towards others. That is the Pangaea organizing activities beyond geographical distance for this essential purpose. Pangaea warmly embraces 'differences' among individuals and builds positive relationships amongst participants through doing lively activities. I believe this positive power creates productive and coexistent relationships in the future world.

Aya Fukuda
Program Officer
PCS Global Campus Program Office
Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

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

March 03, 2008

 On tour in Europe and Passing Through Paris, Sweden, and Denmark

On Tuesday, I flew from Kansai Airport to Paris by way of Amsterdam. I was feeling happy about getting a hotel in Montparnasse, but it ended up being cheap for a was in the middle of being remodeled. The hallways were bare concrete, and the ceiling was nothing but pipes. When I opened the door to my room, it smelled so strongly of paint that it might as well have been painted just yesterday. I soon got a headache, and though it was cold I had to keep the window open and just deal with it. The room was small, and I couldn't open my suitcase. But! 'The room comes with a bath! Perfect,' I thought, and filled the tub with water. It felt perfect for only a short while, though, and the water quickly turned lukewarm so I shampooed and rinsed after the water cooled off.

The next day I met a married couple of professors from Paris University. Since the husband had taught at the school, he was able to point out which places would be best for turning into bases for Pangaea. I then found out that the couple was planning on traveling to Kyoto University 3 days afterward as visiting scholars - that was a surprise! We had lots of meat for lunch, and I felt indebted to them both for a grand meal. (Even though I'm on a diet, I took a little break for that.)
After that I went to the headquarters of UNESCO Paris. We had planned to have Pangaea activities in Kenya in February, but as a result of political unrest the projects have been postponed and are currently undergoing reevaluation. We may need to wait anywhere from another 6 months to a year. Once I mentioned these circumstances and a few other issues, the couple, as always, gave wonderful suggestions and advice to start activities in areas other than Kenya for the time being.

The next day I checked out of the hotel at 7. To Copenhagen! I had planned to visit the school soon after arrival, but my flight was late and I had to cancel. In the evening, since I had an appointment at Lunds University, the friend who came to pick me up at the airport sent me directly to Lunds University, giant suitcase and all! And right around then the jetlag started to kick in...But since it was an urgent meeting that had to be held, I walked around Lunds, Sweden in the cold for a bit to wake myself up. And there I met two female professors at Lunds University, both Japanese. One was 30 years old, and the other professor had been there for 10 years. Both very elegant and intelligent women. (I'm afraid I make no comparison!) The meeting was held in the tower on the highest floor of a several hundred year old building. It only felt like an hour or two, but four hours passed in no time. Through speaking with them, I was happy to share in their seriousness and thoughtfulness. My friend later related to me that, when they had first moved to Japan they had held a fireworks party at which the professors had also been present. Sure is a small, small world.
Then the next day I went to Copenhagen University. I also had acquaintances there, and I was soon introduced to several people and places in Copenhagen that seemed to have potential as new monitors and sites.
For one thing, I realized that I will need to make another trip in either April or May to solidify plans. Today I'll be heading to Amsterdam in a bit. There I will be meeting with Toshi. At the Burger King in the airport, I might normally be nervous about leaving something behind by accident or forgetting something, but since I'm not by myself this time it should be all right.

Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink