July 12, 2008

 Mie University Activity and 2007 Volunteer of the Year

IMG_0930.jpg Today we held an activity at Mie University. The numbers have increased here since last month, and there are now 25 children actively participating. Newcomers joined the regulars in their creative projects, and the environment warmed gradually as everyone's shyness faded.

One great thing about the activities at Mie is that ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) from the city of Tsu participate as facilitators. Indeed, intercultural communication is possible right here in Mie! So far, six ALTs have participated as facilitators and provided support for our children.

Today was also the last day for one of these facilitators, an ALT named Oriana Gatta. She is returning to the United States after two years in Japan, but has not missed a single day of activities since we began Pangaea in Mie. She has always used her exceptionally gentle demeanor and smile to bridge linguistic and cultural differences, showing kindness and compassion not only to students, but to the entire staff.

Oriana participated in more activities than any other Pangaea facilitator last year. She has been awarded the 2007 Facilitator of the Year Award for her efforts.

During the closing of today's activity, Oriana received the 2007 Volunteer of the Year certificate and a parting gift. The children also presented her with a collection of thank you notes. The gratitude she expressed for these gifts was truly heartwarming. She told us, "participating in Pangaea was very enjoyable, and I have learned so much from all of you." We at Pangaea feel the same way.

Thank you very much, Oriana!

I am pleased that Pangaea can continue to bridge connections among not only students, but our staff as well.

Takekazu "Hana-pooh" Hanada
Chief Administrative Officer

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

July 04, 2008

 Jul 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello, everyone,

Within two months, powerful earthquakes rocked in China and Japan. To make matters worse, the monsoon season has started in Japan. We are now concerned with landsliding in the areas affected by the earthquake. My prayers and condolences go out to the victims of the earthquake.

Well, now for the good news: the content and design of our website are renewed! Our translation volunteers in Japan, as well as Pangaeans in Europe, devoted their time and skills to get our work done. We all worked together to improve our website more informative and understandable. Please take a look at our refreshed website!!!

Our facilitator training sessions were held in Kyoto, Seoul, Mie, and Tokyo. I am very proud that one of our staff, Hana-pooh, became a great lecturer!

Since the new term started at Mie University last May, I have been convinced that we are on the right track for our children. At the Mie activity site (or the Village of Mie University), participants were chosen by lottery: some are new, while others are ongoing; some go to the same school, but others don't. Nevertheless, the participants have been getting to know each other and deepening their friendship by attending our onsite activities. Plus, they have learned social interaction skills and fostered consideration toward other kids whom they know only through our online activities. I know we still have a long way to go, but positive attitudes and behaviors of our children give me huge hope for the future.

Slowly but surely, our projects have been moving forward. A couple of projects were added to our Must-Do lists. Because we received subsidies from the Assistance for Long Life, Child Care and Disability Projects, run by Medical Service Agency (WAM), we are able to develop distinct content for inpatient children and deliver our activities to a hospital playroom. Furthermore, our art contest, funded by the USB "Kids in the Arts" Program, is awaited.

We have many thanks to all our board members, who have been tapping into their personal network to publicize Pangaea membership. Over all, the number of Pangaea members has increased. If you already signed up for our newsletter, then we urge you to become a Pangaea member individually or corporately. Please join our team!

Mr. Hiroshi Shimamura, the president of Elab-experience Inc., is the Pangaea writer this month. He has been a big supporter of Pangaea technically and inspirationally; he enthusiastically pushed his proposal, launching Pangaea Activity at Mie University, forward. Because his ideas matched up with our project plans, we decided to implement our program at Mie University. We deeply appreciate his contributions, especially his expertise and the technical volunteers from his company.

See you next month!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Jul 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Mr. Hiroshi Shimamura

I'm Hiroshi Shimamura of Elab-experience Inc. I have founded my company in December 2003 and our mission is to provide the customer with the new designs and experiences using ubiquitous network. I was going through a deliberation period in search of a way to proceed right after founding my company when I have first met Yumi and Toshi through e-mails. Both were traveling all around the world trying to establish NPO Pangaea at that time. I have learned the significance of playing one's role in the society and realized my own source of motivation in a deeper sense when establishing my company. Both Yumi and Toshi always inspire me with their imagination and technical ability, making the best out of their own background of having been MIT researchers, to realize their own goal of peace engineering by providing the children with the activity opportunities and places in order for them to communicate and build understanding with each other as well as to grow their inner self.

It has been three years since our resolution of holding Pangaea activity in Mie prefecture has put together. The Pangaea activity in Mie was adopted as a program of "Plan to Promote International Education" hosted by MEXT two years ago after its initial stage of being a part of the project of International Environmental Information Education lead by Prof. Kameoka of Mie Univeristy. We are hoping to gather the support of more local autonomous bodies as well as business organizations and expand our activities. It would be "my dream-come-true" if we could operate Pangaea activities at local universities, where intellectual and human resources are made the best use of, and spread our activity model throughout the nation.

When observing children at the Pangaea activities, I realize that the children's love for their communities and their country is unfailing. Today, we live in a society where there is flood of information and means of transportation far in the distance is available, yet the time that is given to human beings is the same as the past. I believe this fact has affected us in keeping us from thinking deeply without taking our own time to think about ourselves and what is really going on around us.

I would like to keep supporting Pangaea activities which enable both children and adults to think about ourselves as well as our friends around the world, to express and communicate with each other so that we would grow deeper inside. I would like to keep being a part of this activity and play the role I can.

I hope to see the circle of Pangaeans grow bigger and the individuals as well as the society grow mature.

Hiroshi Shimamura
The president of Elab-experience Inc.

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