April 09, 2009

 Volunnteer of the Year 2008

volunteeroftheyear2008.JPG The 2008 Pangaea Volunteer of the Year Award Ceremony was held today (April 9, 2009) at the MIZY Center in Seoul.

Ms. Sophia Ji-hye Yoon, one of our 300 hard working volunteers, was awarded the Pangaea Volunteer of the Year for 2008 in recognition of her outstanding leadership toward organizing the MIZY Center activity site and efforts to bring new ideas to Pangaea. She has also devoted to training facilitators in Soul.

We invited Mr. Hyung-Kun Choi, director of the MIZY Center, as well as some other guests who have been working with Ms. Ji-hye Yoon, to the ceremony. Ms. Ji-hye Yoon received a plaque and appreciation gift from Yumiko Mori, president of Pangaea.

After the ceremony, the Pangaea Facilitator Training Session took place. It started at 18:30. We got 10 brand new facilitators, including high school students. They will participate in the Pangaea Activity, scheduled on April 11 and will then be given a certification.

In addition, two new Facilitator Leaders, who had completed the Facilitator Leader Training yesterday (April 8), are supposed to join the April 11 Activity. Both of them are college students and have been volunteering for Pangaea as a facilitator for three years. I can’t wait to see them again at the activity.

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

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

April 05, 2009

 Apr 2009 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello, everyone!

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.


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 Apr 2009 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Ms. Mina Hasegawa

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.

With my sincere thanks to all of the Pangaea staffers

After being teased about her drawing at school
My daughter stopped drawing in front of other people
When she was only with me, she would still draw
Paintings that really showed her true character
Which may not be so accomplished yet I loved them with all my heart.

After a while my daughter met Pangaea
Where everyone accepted her drawings
She found a place where she was happy being herself
And started drawing eagerly with her own style even outside of Pangaea

What Pangaea taught my daughter and me, was the importance of
"Accepting others even if you don't understand them"

Each one of us has different ideas and ways of looking at things
This is so even in a family
I love my child very deeply
Just like any other mothers in the world
Although there are things that I cannot understand about my child
Or things on which I cannot agree with her
Yet, I still love my child unconditionally and freely
We can accept each other, even if we do not understand each other
That way, we can continue on living in a small house as a family.
I believe Pangaea is a larger version of such house.

After an encounter with Pangaea during her elementary school days,
Pangaea has become my daughter's cozy corner
She graduated from Pangaea as she graduated from elementary school
Yet she seems to be able to make friends by herself in the new world that
she is in.
No of us ever think of starting a war with our friend's country, do we.
I wish and pray that many children as well as grownups will meet
Many friends whom we can call 'comrades'
By coming to Pangaea or traveling afar with Pangaea.

Mina Hasegawa
Pangaea supporter (Pangaean)

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