September 28, 2008

 The episode in Seoul

Mizy_animation.jpg We've been in Seoul since last week. Yesterday, a Pangaea activity was held at the Mizy Center, near Myeongdong. I just observed most of the time, as I cannot speak Korean. Twenty-three excited participants came, greeting us with "an nyoung ha seh yo"!

We then formed two groups. One group participated in an anime workshop, while the other painted, colored on own works, and created a panoramic picture collage of everyone with the help of a Pangaea staff member we like to call "Woophin". Halfway though, the groups switched.

While sitting at the painting and coloring table, I met a young boy in about the fifth grade who remembered my name. "Yumi!" he said to me, followed by something I did not understand. It turns out he was in Japan for just three days over the summer at our children's camp.

(An English-speaking Korean facilitator translated this for me.) Actually this same facilitator, a boy in high school, told me that his family hosted a Japanese child home-staying in Korea during the summer. Despite the recent political tensions between Korea and Japan, these children are really enjoying learning and teaching about each others' cultures.

I really wished I could speak Korean!

Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink

September 11, 2008

 Seven Years after 9/11

We cannot forget this day now or ever. It was this day that inspired the creation of Pangaea. Thousands of days later, 200 volunteers dedicated to connecting the world's children, as well as over 3000 children have participated in total. Little by little, we have learned lessons of persistence, hard work, and responsibility. Although much difficulty still lies ahead, we will continue on, never forgetting the reason we created Pangaea.

Last week, we received news from UNESCO that Kenya will be participating again. This month however it's Seoul, where we will be further strengthening the connections Pangaea has forged between children in Korea and Japan. While it is not entirely certain why our relations with Korea are proceeding at such a rapid pace, we undoubtedly owe immense gratitude to the director, facilitators, and volunteers at Seoul's Mizy Center. This time we will be creating animated movies.

Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink

September 05, 2008

 Sep 2008 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello, everyone,

The scorching summer heat has finally faded away. It was pleasantly cool here in Kyoto this morning.

Pangaea had a historic accomplishment this summer: from August 23 to 25, we held our first camp, called "Pangaea Brain Boot Camp," at the Fuji Institute of Education and Training in Shizuoka, Japan. We planned this camp to invite Pangaeans residing in Japan in order to design and develop our projects together. Overall, 25 Pangaeans, including our facilitators, technical staff members, volunteers, and advisers, joined the camp from Tokyo, Kyoto, and Mie. We had a very productive time during the camp.

To boost our brain function,

we invited three guest speakers: Mr. Kazuhiko Nishi, Toru Ishida, and Toshio Nagahisa. Between workshops, each lecturer shared his expertise with us. Mr. Nish helped us to analyze and evaluate the work we have done since Pangaea Project started. Mr. Ishida gave us a step-by-step explanation of the Language Grid, which we have avidly utilized to overcome language barriers among our staff members across the world. The first day of our camp went on late into the night due to the intensive timetable. It was around 9 PM when we presented Mr. Nagahisa, one of our board members and also a specialist of international politics, to lecture attendees. Mr. Nagahisa delivered his lecture regarding "the current world views toward Japan" in terms of international relationship. Actually, we were wondering if the late-night lecture would keep the attendees less engaged. In spite of our concerns, they were more attentive than we had expected; they asked as many questions as possible. I was stunned by their attitudes toward learning. After the lectures, the attendees gave me great comments: "Every single lecture was informative and interesting." "I had many 'Ah-Ha moments' during the lecture on the Language Grid." I also received feedback from the guest speakers: "All participants are highly motivated!" They brought a smile to my face, but at the same time, I ironically realized that I am the person who needed those lectures the most.

During the camp, we all attended a variety of workshops, such as "brainstorming workshop" and "role-play workshop," and then shared our "brainpower" to find out better solutions. I am hoping to coordinate our Brain Boot Camp in other countries as well. Plus, I want to put my exhilarating plan, inviting our volunteers from every corner of the globe to join our camp, into action. This is because I learned a crucial lesson from the camp: we need to work not only with our staff members, but with our volunteers, in order to gain diverse perspectives and avenues, enabling us to move forward.

I will post our new challenges coming up in September: We will take a major step forward for an exciting project, launching a new activity site in South Korea, in parallel to hold the Viscuit Workshop for the first time at the MIZY Center. Please send us a big Hooray!


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Sep 2008 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Ms. Sophia Ji-hye Yoon

From my personal background and experiences, I believe that "knowing and understanding others" could mean "knowing and understanding one's ego" at the same time. While I, a Korean, studied European culture for a long time, I became, ironically but naturally, more and more get interested in discovering mine including my-self.

Therefore, I have been quite sure that international understanding programs invite youth not only to get aware of each difference and respect it while making friends from all over the globe, but also to meet more closely and deeply inner self.

The Seoul Youth Center for Cultural Exchange (MIZY Center), which is managed by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO has played a role as a Korean partner organization for the Pangaea Project since 2006.

As a Korean counterpart,

I am convinced that the Pangaea Project provides Korean children with invaluable opportunities for international cross-cultural communication through various ranges of games during Webcam Activity and messaging of pictogram called Picton at PangaeaNet, a cyberspace homepage created by project participants, with their peers from Austria, Japan and Kenya regardless of barriers of language, geographical distance and time zones.

Moreover, it is more meaningful for me to witness that the Pangaea Project helps Korean participants, who are more led to their scholastic achievement than to their self-reflection, to examine their selves through creative and expressive activities based on drawing.

It is an important point that Korean facilitators who are indispensable volunteers present positive feedback to have been experiencing their growth step by step while meeting Korean children and conducting the project. Me also, I take a look at myself considering the perspectives of Korean children, facilitators and other staffs at the scene of the Pangaea Project and it gives me always good lessons.

Finally, the Pangaea Project helps not merely Korean children but every single person involved to grow up slowly but surely.

The Pangaea Project plays thus like mirror, through which we could reflect ourselves. I am sure that the mirror allows us to show others with whom we live together, but who we do not know and understand, as well as, to know and understand ourselves more correctly and deeply.

Sophia Ji-hye Yoon
Head, Multicultural Program Team
Seoul Youth Center for Cultural Exchange (MIZY Center)

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

September 01, 2008

 Pangea Camp at Mount Fuji

pangaea_gasshuku2008.jpg Last week, Pangea held a three-day, two-night retreat from Saturday until Monday. Twenty-five facilitators, technology staff, advisors, and board members from Tokyo, Kyoto, and Mie attended. Attendees praised the retreat, calling it "exceptionally productive" and finding it "so stimulating that ideas continued to be generated even after the retreat ended." Although I initially thought we could spend some time getting to know each other, participants got down to business immediately, turning the retreat into a forum to share their ideas about the present, future, content, and framework of Pangaea. Three lecture series were presented to work groups: Kazuhiko Nishi analyzed Pangaea's operations, Toru Ishida spoke on the language grid that powers the multilingual communicate site used weekly, and board member Toshio Nagahisa presented multiple perspectives on the future of Japan.

The discussions continued until after 10 PM, and the number of questions from participants startled even the speakers. We also tested animation software developed in Kyoto, built personal connections, considered thoroughly future content of our community site, and shared our daily concerns about Pangaea. It turned out to be a very fruitful retreat. If possible, I would like to have a retreat very much like this one every year. I was surprised and excited by the brilliance of our participants and felt we were truly creating "everyone's Pangaea." Thank you dearly to those who participated. For those who did not, we welcome you to future retreats.


Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink