May 22, 2008

 A Wonderful Video from Korea!

Mizy20080510.jpg We wrote previously about the May 10th webcam activity connecting children in Tokyo and Korea, but we also wanted to let you know that the activities for that day have been posted on the Mizy Center website!

In a wonderful video taken during the activity registration and check-in, you can see the happy children who came to check out the webcam. Enjoy!

The video can be viewed here.
(Video courtesy of the UNESCO Korea Mizy Center)

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

May 17, 2008

 Facilitator Training in Mie

For the last two days we held a facilitator training at Mie University. One ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) from the city of Tsu and 14 Mie University students participated. Some were a little nervous at first, but soon relaxed after a game of Tako Introduction. It's amazing the effect this game has on adults and children alike! The second day of the training started today at 9:00 AM and focused on how to make physical contact with children properly as well as on creating space.

Right after the training we held the first activity of the year at Mie University. It's been two months since we last connected to Vienna via webcam, and some children immediately came running. "It's been too long!" they shouted, starting the activity off on a good note.

Today we made playing cards. We set up categories for the 13 different ranks such as "snacks" and "animals." The children then decided on the particular designs. The idea was for the kids to introduce their home to people from other places.

First, the students brainstormed what they would like to introduce about Mie. Then, through discussion, the students decided which ideas they would use. In Mie, the children chose things such as the beach near the University as their favorite place to play and the Ise Shrine as a unique building. They then created drawings, digital illustrations, and photographs to depict these. They really worked hard on their creations and produced some wonderful artwork.

We have been holding activities in Mie for over three years. The staff, impressed with the children's development, commented that, "even the students who were shy at first are learning to voice their opinions with confidence." Some new children will join next month and, together with the new facilitators we trained today, start off another year of wonderful activities.

Takekazu Hanada a.k.a Hana-pooh
Chief Administrative Officer

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

May 15, 2008

 Report from a Korean Facilitator

Pangaea creates multilingual community sites, which are in frequent contact exchanging news. After last week's activity session between Seoul and Yoyogi, one facilitator in Seoul made a comment that I'd like to share with everyone.

Below is a summary...

"I learned English knowing that it's a way for people to communicate. However, I discovered that just using English to communicate is not enough to break the language and culture barrier. In our webcam activities with Japan, we didn't use any English words or speak any English. We were instead able to exchange our thoughts using only pictures through the games we played. I think it's great that we're teaching the children that learning English is not the only means of communicating with foreigners.
Returning home on the train after Pangaea, I was pretty tired. But, I'll be looking forward to our next session for the next month with joy and anticipation. I'm becoming more and more of a Pangaea fan! ^^"

Posted by: yumi | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

May 10, 2008

 The first Webcam Activity in Tokyo since the last year and a half!

kenya_kisumu03.jpg Today we held a Webcam Activity between Tokyo and Korea! It was the first real-time activity to be held between Tokyo and another location in the past year and a half, and at first everyone was a bit apprehensive, but the tension and nervousness was soon broken by the "Koetsuna" (Connecting Voices) activity. And during the matching game and the "Otobiko" wordplay game, the children even made cross-country teams with the Korean children, and everyone had a wonderful time cooperating and playing the games together.

In the matching game, a color is used as a clue to guess what the other side is drawing. With a shout of "shi---jak!" ('ready, go!' in Korean) the Korean children enthusiastically showed their drawings. Cheers of "all right!" went up when the pictures were correctly matched, and when they weren't, everyone went, "aww, close!", and "too bad it wasn't the other side drawing this time." Everyone enjoyed the activity wholeheartedly whether or not matches were correct. When the color purple was suggested, both countries thought "grapes," and the majority of the teams made correct matches.

In "Otobiko," one side tries to memorize the order of music played by the other side with sound and gesture cues, then reenact the order correctly when it's their turn. Everyone used big voices and big actions in order to clearly communicate their messages to the other side. I admired the children for their sense of pitch and their sharp memories.

After the activity, the children were all smiles.

When all was said and done, the staff commented with praise that the activities were run not just keeping a country vs. country score, but by integrating children of both nationalities within teams, allowing them to relate with children from the partner nation. This was a change we made based on feedback from previous activities. It is also, of course, thanks to the volunteer staff's tremendous support that this was made possible. Thank you so much, everyone!

In our future events, we will strive to continue putting on activities that allow children to enjoy themselves and cultivate a healthy sense of communication.

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

May 08, 2008

 May 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello Everyone,

It's been a month since we started our search for new activity fields in both Denmark and Sweden. I have been traveling in the Scandinavian countries again. I had some meetings and presentations there last week. In Copenhagen, I met with the former teacher, who has promoted many IT projects in education. He now works for the City of Copenhagen to contribute his skills, experiences, and knowledge. The first question he put to me was whether Pangaea is the type of organization, supported by or tied to religious or political organizations. "Absolutely not," I replied to him. "We have been recruiting children from diverse religious backgrounds, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, and Hinduism," I added. He appeared to be relieved to hear my answers. So he said, "That's great!"

The Scandinavian countries are well known as the safest places in the world. Those countries have the best-designed social security systems. In Sweden, no one has to spend more than 30,000 yen per year on medical expenses. Recently, the number of immigrants has increased in the Scandinavian countries: many people have fled into those countries to escape from unstable political situation in their homelands, as well as to seek jobs to gain financial stability. In Sweden, I had a chance to talk with the chief officer of the Board of Education and school principal in one district where nearly 100% of community members are immigrants.

They touched on some emerging issues in the community:
The area is considered unsafe to live, and the unemployment rate is very high among young and middle adults. Both the chief officer and school principal have tried to find out the effective ways of communication among the community members and how to enable them to live together in harmony. During our presentation, I introduced them our virtual communities: "House" (an individual identity), "Village" (an activity field), "Country," and "Earth." I explained them that it takes only four clicks to visit House to Earth. They showed their interest in our simple, but fundamental ideas. I confirmed their willingness to launch our activities as we implement our projects in Europe. I believe the Scandinavians tend to be meticulous. Most Scandinavians whom I know usually visualize the proposed project before discussing further details about the project plan. In fact, it seemed the school principal has already mapped out our project plan and listed some future facilitators in his/her mind. My friend, Cecilia, lives about a 20-min-drive from the community; she is willing to help us in order to put our project plan into operation.

Due to my hectic schedule, I set up one of my meetings at Cecilia's house, where I was staying. I asked Simon to come and join the meeting from Amsterdam. So, Simon, Cecilia, and I could discuss our project plan in Sweden. By the way, I am now writing this newsletter in London. I am here to have the first session with staff members of the new community center. I am going to Amsterdam this weekend to meet with staff from community centers and the largest nonprofit organization in Amsterdam.

I have some great news to share. During my business trip, one of our staff members, Mr. Hanada (we call him "Hana-pooh."), made his debut as a lecturer of our facilitator training sessions. And we are opening our new activity site at Kyoto University; we are going to launch our activities there this week. Because we have major upcoming events, we have reconfirmed our commitment to respect children and provide them with a lot of fun during our activities. To achieve our goals, we need your continued support.

This month I will introduce Mr. Hayato Sagawa as a writer of Pangaea Ring. He is one of our technical volunteers in Kyoto and works for the company, Global Developers Japan. He developed an effective online interaction tool, Pangaea Community Site, for our volunteers. We have currently utilized the system at our activity sites. Thanks to Mr. Sagawa, we will be able to offer a social networking platform to Pangaeans from every corner of the globe!

Well, goodbye then!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 May 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Mr. Hayato Sagawa

Hello everyone. My name is Hayato Sagawa or "Guts" as people call me. I am a technical development volunteer for Pangaea.

My first encounter with Pangaea was at a resting lounge room in a building. I had seen Yumi, the director of Pangaea, in this lounge room a number of times before and one time, she told me about her activity. It opened up the door to Pangaea for me. I felt a strong sympathy toward Pangaea's cross cultural communication activity and asked her if I could be of any help. I still remember the moment as if it were yesterday.

I was welcome by the Pangaea staffers and almost a year has passed since then. I provide support mainly in developing the Pangaea multilingual community site used by Pangaea volunteers. Development of this site was conducted with a purpose of enabling the Pangaea volunteers around the world to hold smooth communication without being entrenched by the language barriers. Language Grid service was adopted in multilingual translation program on this site. I have had the opportunities to meet many new people and develop good relationship with them during the course of my being involved in Pangaea activities sometimes as a Language Grid Service developer and other times as a service user.

When I participated in the Pangaea activity the other day, I was deeply touched by the view of each child demonstrating his/her unique sensitivity The view of all the children playing and having much fun filled my heart with warm feelings.

The activities provide the children around the world with the opportunities to meet play and laugh together.
I want them to have more fun. I want them to experience so much more. I am proud of being a part of Pangaea although I'm a very small part of it. I wish to continue providing support to the best of my ability for Pangaea activity which I believe will nurture rich spirits in the children around the globe whose hands hold the future of the world.

Hayato Sagawa
executive director
Global Developers Japan Co.,Ltd

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