April 19, 2008

 Facilitator training in Kyoto completed!

Today we completed our Kyoto facilitator training! It was held at the Kyoto Research and Development Center. Participating children played the "Takoshokai" icebreaker game followed by our hand-on activity "Let's Build a House." We had six new facilitators today. After attending our next activity, they will receive a Pangaea facilitator training certificate of completion.

P1010423.jpg It was actually my first time as a trainer. Yumi Mori, my predecessor, prepared me well with information about introducing Pangaea, the training session format, and dealing with all of the various problems that can arise. I was very nervous, but thankfully our technology trainer, Toshi Takasaki, helped out to make sure we covered the most important points. We administered a survey at the end of the session, and it was wonderful to read that many participants are looking forward to our next training. Looking back I feel there were some things I could have improved upon, but overall it was a truly wonderful and rewarding experience.

Our upcoming May and June training sessions will be held in Mie and Tokyo, respectively.
Hopefully the experience I gained today will help me plan even better activities in the future. I am looking forward to it!

Takekazu Hanada
Chief Administrative Officer

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink


I met Simon in the Netherlands and we flew together to Copenhagen, arriving on the night of the 17th. We then met Cecilia in Falsterbo, a city on the southern tip of Sweden that reminded me a bit of the Japanese city of Karuizawa. I brought Simon and Cecilia together to discuss our plans for Europe. I mentioned this before, but it really is a cozy house. Cecilia later told me however that many British people are not particularly fond of staying in the houses of people they hardly know, and I regretted having decided upon this arrangement without consulting either of them first. Simon also had a bit of a nervous face initially, but he soon warmed up and we had a great meeting. We decided on a plan of action and confirmed each of our roles. Afterward, we went to a restaurant at a local golf course for a delicious Swedish lunch.
Back in Japan, Hanapu should be debuting for the first time as a trainer right about now. I hope it’s going well!

Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink

April 12, 2008

 Enthusiasm at the Mizy Center in Korea!

I am currently in Seoul. The new season began in March, so we held a training session for new facilitators and facilitator leaders. All together we had 10 participants, including two high schools students. One student is hoping to work at the United Nations. He enjoys sports and even spent two years living in Canada.
The training was held from in the evening from 5:30 to 9. I particularly emphasized how to work effectively with children. One Mizy staff member started this past January and trained today to become a facilitator leader. She has considerable experience with children and even showed us a wonderful circle activity today during the session.

Pangaea’s contact at Mizy also participated tonight as a facilitator, and she thought it was wonderful to see the different personalities of the children. She also informed me that she learns so many things when she participates in Pangaea and that it even encourages her to reflect a great deal upon her own behavior.
Although the children surely found me a bit mysterious as they could not communicate in Korean with me, I think they could tell I was observing the session. They tried what little English they knew with me, approaching with smiling faces. It really was a comfortable and cozy environment. Here too we were expecting 20 children but ended up with 24! Mizy staff also told me that the kids really enjoyed Pangaea.
My dream is that through Pangaea we can spread these wonderful experiences to many other countries. Tomorrow I will return to Japan and then leave for Europe a few days later. While there, I will meet with Simon, who is introducing Europe to our Pangaea house in Sweden! We will discuss our plans to bring Pangaea to Sweden and Denmark.

Posted by: yumi | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

April 09, 2008

 Apr 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello Everyone,

I am back from my business trip to Europe and Egypt. I attended our webcam activity in Vienna, and helped Viennese children to interact with kids in Tsu, Mie. Those children, joining our activities in Vienna, have really grown up since the last time I saw them. I heard that the number of kids, applying to our webcam activity, considerably increased. We have wondered if we might have offered plenty of fun to the participants of the last webcam activity. During the latest webcam activity, I found the fact: Japanese children often associate the color brown with chocolate; in Vienna, black is the color of chocolate. I also observed that they interpret the color of the sun differently.
In Vienna, children created their pictogram messages to cheer up their Kenyan friends. The situation in Kenya continues to be unstable. This is my prayer - May Kenyans get their lives back to normal.

I have a Pangean friend in Sweden, who lets me stay at her house whenever I visit Scandinavia. Her daughter moved out to go to college far away from home. My friend now lives alone with her two cats. She always welcomes me with open arms; her place makes me feel homey.

I worked in Europe tirelessly. One of professors at Mie University had introduced me to two faculty members at Lund University. I met them in person while I was in Sweden. In Malme city, I had an opportunity to explain our organization and projects to one of former chef judges. And then, I went down to Denmark. I stopped by universities and institutions in Copenhagen. In Amsterdam, I met up with Simon, who is a key person to operate our projects in Europe, and representatives of the media guild in order to discuss our project strategies. I was engaged in business activities during my stay in Paris. I enjoyed getting to know the professor at the University of Paris, introduced by instructors at Kyoto University. I visited UNESCO Headquarters to keep UNESCO staff members up to date in terms of our projects. Our main agenda was the situation in Kenya: we talked about our project plans for Kenya, as well as for other locations, productively and constructively.

From Europe, I flew down to Egypt and took my first steps on Egyptian soil. I was honored to meet the chef director of the peace movement organization, established by Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt. At the Alexandria Library Museum, I had a chance to talk with the director of the science center. I was stunned by the museum: it IS gigantic and distinctive. The building is designed to offer study-friendly atmospheres. I think this type of facility can provide citizens with inquiry learning. I have some unimaginable stories of what happened to me in Egypt. If you want to know, please read my updated blog.

This is my April schedule: I will go to Seoul to hold facilitator training sessions, and then fly back to Europe. I've got myself into high gear to promote our projects in East Europe.

The writer of Pangaea Ring of this month is Mr. Yasutoshi Ando, a graduate student of Tokyo University, Japan.
He is a facilitator at Pangaea Activity in Tokyo, and a technical volunteer staff.

Well, bye for now!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Apr 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Mr. Yasutoshi Andou

How do you do! I'm Yasutoshi Ando. Everybody calls me "Andu". I participate in Pangaea Activities at branches in Tokyo as a technical staff.

I have come to know Pangaea as an area supporter for the Pangaea activity. When I participated in Pangaea activity as area supporter for the first time, I was not fully aware of what Pangaea and its activity was (I'm ashamed to admit..) but I had an enjoyable time and I was interested in participating more. Then, instead of being an area supporter, I became a volunteer staff of Pangaea to attend the activities from the next year.

At Pangaea activities, those children who are usually shy at school seem to be more energetic. When they receive mails from other branches through PangaeaNet, the children get excited and report to the staff joyfully saying "Look! I've got a mail!" That is a kind of moment when I am filled with joy as a staff myself because I can see the children are feeling "the bond" with each other through Pangaea. Pangaea staffers have a variety of back ground. Some are students and some are working people. Having had the chance to participate in Pangaea activities with the other staffers allowed me to broaden my perspective also. When participating in Pangaea activities, a volunteer does not only provide service but also learn and gain so much at the same time.

When I first joined Pangaea as a technical staff, I was so unfamiliar with computer network and did not even know what an IP address was. With Toshi-san's kind guidance from the very scratch, I have been educated enough to be a technical leader at the activities. This experience has allowed me to learn the importance of the feeling of accomplishment, being prepared as well as showing clear directions, which I would not have learned otherwise as a university student. Moreover, I find it always comforting to spend time with the children. I do believe that I can share this feeling with all the volunteers at Pangaea activities. I also believe that this is probably why Pangaea has never experienced having to cancel an activity with lack of volunteer staff showing up.

I have participated in Pangaea activities held in Kyoto and Mie, besides Tokyo. I find each branch has its own characteristics. The branches in Tokyo seem to more relaxed and one in Mie is more energetic. I hope to join Pangaea activities held at branches overseas. That is one of my dreams. I also hope to continue to provide any support I can so that the children can feel "the bond" between each other through Pangaea.

Yasutoshi Ando

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