August 05, 2008

 Aug 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello, everyone,

It's been a challenging summer for me due to roasting heat waves in Japan. I usually stay abroad for two months, from June to July, which gives me a sanctuary from the excessively hot and sticky weather in Japan. But this summer is very different: I have been in Kyoto for these two months and experienced a hot spell for the first time. Alas, I am dazed and groggy.

Volunteer of the Year 07 was announced to be given to Oriana of Mie University Village. She participated Pangaea in last two years. At the end of July, she completed her job with Mie City to teach children English at schools, and returned back to US to attend PhD program in University. When she joined, she could not speak much Japanese, and experienced difficult times to communicate with children. However,

with her calm and warm nature, she aquired skills to observe children and assist them timely. She became the most dependable facilitator in village, and all staffs learned so much from her. She came to activity every month without missing one. She mentioned that Pangaea was the most exciting encounter in Japan. Mie Village is an unique site to have foreign staffs. Children first look bit shy but as they share times together, distances between them shorten, and that portraits our vision for universal playground in practice. Oriana, Thank you so much to be a part of us, and we will miss you. But I think we will meet again soon when we start our activity in US.

On July 19, our activity took place in Shibuya, Tokyo. Although it was the first Saturday of summer break, all participants showed up and enjoyed the activity. Our new facilitators, who had just completed our training sessions, were invited to the activity and made their debut as a facilitator. One of Pangaea graduates, a high school freshman, helped with us as a facilitator, as well. She joined the meeting held after the activity and shared her feedback with other staff members. I am very pleased to have our graduates as our facilitators and to see their social growth.

Toshi and I finished our papers for International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration (IWIC) at the beginning of July. We were assigned different topics. Because I am very new to the topic, I was stressed out and anxious from the paper work. However, I am very thankful for the given opportunity: I looked through enormous data (pictograph) to collect the information I needed, and in the process, I could understand our children much deeper. I am not sure whether or not my paper will be accepted, but I believe that writing the paper was a worthy experience.

We are now working on the following projects. To make our manual more understandable and usable, we are trying to describe our "Activity Menus" in as few words as possible. We are also planning to develop our e-training system for future Pangaea facilitators. The concept of the system is to hold our facilitator training sessions in any geographic location. That is, Toshi and I will be able to join the sessions without traveling.

As you know, we have strived to create our universal playgrounds across the globe. The number of our members has gradually increased, but we need your continuing support and understanding to go further. If you are interested in becoming an important part of our team, please apply for our membership.

This month I will introduce Ms. Miwa Omori as a Pangaea Ring writer. She is a Pangaea facilitator in Tokyo. We truly appreciate her devotion to Pangaea.

Have a Happy Summer!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Aug 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Ms. Miwa Omori

Hello. My name is Miwa Omori.

My encounter with Pangaea was an electrifying experience. Two years ago, on one morning, I was watching NHK and suddenly the title "NPO Pangaea's approach - Simultaneous activity between Japan and Korea" caught my eyes and then I found myself exclaiming, "This is it!"
I could not believe what was being broadcasted on TV. What I saw was exactly the kind of activity that I had always wanted to take part in - the activity to create the bond between the children all around the world. I made friends with a Czechoslovakian

-at that time- when I was in grade 7. We were pen friends. I was always looking forward to and anxiously waiting for receiving letters from him/her. It has also become my pleasure and a habit to make friends at the destination of my various travels. Having had chances to meet with children who lived in a different cultural environment has inspired me and surely broadened my dreams. I have always wanted to share my own experiences with many children and provide them with opportunities to let them actually gain the similar experiences. I have also pictured that taking the advantage of IT would help realize my dream come true in quite an effective way especially today, when advanced IT infrastructure network is available.

I searched the internet and contacted Pangaea right away. I was deeply moved by Yumi san's enthusiasm and dearly wished to be a part of Pangaea myself. Pangaea enables the children all around the world to communicate and understand each other over the barriers of the languages. I find Pangaea's approach to use optical tool of communication such as pictons and to hold activities making the best use of IT truly wonderful.

At the moment, I participate in Pangaea activities as a facilitator. Through attending the activities I have first realized what I was missing in my way of thinking. It was "the children's perspective" - what do they have on mind now, how do they feel about being related with other children around the world - the most important point of all. The adults can prepare the appropriate environment and encourage the children only so much if the children are not self-motivated.
I believe each and every child is given a full attention at Pangaea activity. Pangaea activity also draws the children's interest in getting to know one another in a very successful manner.
The children can, in spite of the language barriers, make their natural effort to communicate with one another even if they are only interested in knowing about each other more.

When I spend time with the children at Pangaea activity, I always learn something new, for example about the children's rich sensibility, how remarkably fast their growth is and the importance of caring for others and so on. To me, it is truly a meaningful experience. Also, getting to see the children's carefree laughs, away from the adult society where I spend most of my time, is the best source of my energy just like vitamins.

I hold dear all my experiences with Pangaea and I hope to stay as a part of Pangaea.
I dream a day when the Pangaea Network will have expanded all around the world letting the children communicate with each other.

Miwa Omori

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