I was away from Japan almost the entire month of March. In the beginning of
March, I took a trip to Hokkaido, Japan in order to attend the conference.
From there, I flew into Vienna to participate in the Webcam Activity
connecting between Vienna and Mie, Japan. I started experiencing some cold-
like symptoms while I was in Hokkaido. By the time I arrived Vienna, I had
a flu. In spite of suffering from a flu, I could manage to assist the Webcam
Activity. But after the activity, my flu got worse. The battle lasted for
a week. Practically, catching a cold and purchasing medicine in a foreign
country where very few people speak English can be daunting for me due to
a language barrier. However, this time I was lucky enough to have "saviors."
One of them was Yuki who came Vienna from Firenze to help our webcam activity.
To relieve my cold symptoms, she bought the cold and cough medicine, as well
as the sore throat spray, for me.
Still being very sick, I wanted to follow my itinerary. So I headed off to
Sweden to see my friend. Because my body was weary, I dragged myself into bed
as soon as I had got to my friend, Cecilia's house. It had been over a year
since the last time my friend and I saw each other. Nevertheless, I had no energy to do anything.
I was apologetic and appreciative: my friend just let me stay in bed and
took care of me very kindly by serving nutritious foods, including fruits,
until I got better. I realized how fortunate I am to have such wonderful
friends around the world.
I got another episode regarding my health during my stay in Europe. My
self-healing power was boosted to get rid of my vertigo. My vertigo attacks
had started a few weeks before I left for Europe due to my overwork. I had
a weird sensation that I was spinning upside down even when I was lying in
bed because ear stones (I hadn't heard them before) in the inner ear had
become displaced. Anyhow the vertigo was miraculously gone while I was in
Europe; I fully regained my health.
On my way back to Japan, I stopped over in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
I was there because my dear friend, Simon, had asked me to give a lecture at
the university where he has worked as a director. By reason of having
experienced the temperature hitting -8 Celsius in Sweden, the temperature in
the UAE going up to nearly 40 Celsius made me feel exhausted. It took me two
days to overcome the temperature difference. However, as I had "Jaw-Dropping"
experiences in the UAE, I felt I was rewarded for enduring the distress.
In Abu Dhabi city, I was given the opportunity to meet HE Sheikh Nahayan
Mabarak Al Nahayan who is the UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific
Research. He is also chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Group which includes Union
National Bank, and United Bank Limited. He is called a "Sheikh" (a tribal
leader) and he is very popular in the UAE, coming from his keen interest
in child welfare and passion for education. Surprisingly, I was invited for
a lunch party. Visiting his palace in the morning, big hall in which
stunningly gorgeous chandeliers were being hung. I felt as if I was visiting
"Hollywood" or a filming location. I found that the UAE men wore national
dress, a white long robe. I was introduced to Sheikh Nahayan; he shook my
hand and gave me a warm welcome. Later at lunch reception in different
location, lunch was indescribably delicious. I learned that the UAE imports
high quality food products from all over the world.
Before and after lunch, I visited Men's college and women's universities
in the UAE to deliver my lecture regarding the Pangaea Project. Female
students showed interest in the Pangaea Project, and asked me, "Is it
possible to launch the Pangaea Project in the UAE?" Students were wearing
black veils, but I could see their beautiful faces at university. I was
impressed by their insights, radiant spirits, and pride in being the first
women receiving higher education in the UAE.
Well, it's time to talk about the Pangaea Activity. In Malaysia, the
Pangaea Activity became fully operational. Malaysian staffers will run the
second Pangaea Activity by themselves at the end of March. From April, we
will start recruiting activity participants. The Pangaea training sessions
for new facilitators are scheduled. In Kyoto, the number of participants has
been increasing. The Tsu City Board of Education (Mie, Japan) is to take
a new avenue, operating the Pangaea Project from May, 2009 through March,
2010. Thanks to Mie University helping us to train our facilitators, we have
always been able to work with highly skilled facilitators in Mie.
I have an announcement: Ms. Sophia was recently selected as the Volunteer
of the Year. She has been working with us at the MIZY Center activity site
in South Korea and brought many great changes to the activity site by
putting her creative ideas into practice. In addition, she has openly shared
her views with Pangaea and enthusiastically trained facilitators. We deeply
appreciate her hard work and contribution to Pangaea. Congratulations!
Pangaea needs operational reform to be more functional. Toshi and I have
been working as a "vendor," promoting the Pangaea Project everywhere we go.
In Japan, we are called "Futen-no-Tora-san (a person who goes to events to
sell products). " We think every staff member has to be able to perform
multiple tasks, including vendor job, to lessen our burden. As part of our
reform, we assigned Hana-Pooh, our chief administrative officer, a new task;
he is going to South Korea in April in order to give a lecture at the Viscuit
Workshop. Indeed, Pangaea has been improving.
We asked a mother whose daughter is participating in our program to write
her thoughts on Pangaea. So the mother is the Pangaea Ring
writer for this
month. Her story touched my heart. Her daughter joined our program three
years ago, and has voluntarily helped us in taking care of new participants
and cleaning up our activity room.