February 06, 2010

 First exchange between Mie and Malaysia!

20100206_mie.JPG Today we carried out activities via Webcam link between Mie University and the University of Malaysia, Sarawak! With 25 kids in Mie and 35 kids in Malaysia! In total 56 kids participated.

We did "Nazoren" this time as well and both Japan and Malaysia were really excited. Nazoren is a guessing game where you guess the answer based on 5 hints.

We used the "Language Grid Project"'s Language Grid Toolbox's machine translation system, but from now on since we'll also be working with Wikipedia, we'll be able to translate Malay. The kids tried their hardest discussing hints, so their friends in the other country would be able to guess the answer with fewer hints and were checking whether it would get across properly to the other group.

With just one hint of "Dorayaki" from Malaysia the Mie kids sucessfully guessed "Doraemon". At the same time they were surprised to learn that the Malaysian kids knew Doraemon.

In the results of the pre-activity survey done by the children in Mie, 76% of kids said their feelings in regard to Malaysia were "OK", but in contrast on the post activity survey 76% of the kids said they "love" or "like" Malaysia and the majority of the children's feelings towards Malaysia changed to friendly feelings.

With comments like "I learnt that they are fun and interesting people", "I learnt that it is similar to Japan" and "I felt for the first time that even if the words are different you can still connect [with people]" showing what a fun and fulfilling day it was.

I received comments from the facilitators about what fun they had, as well as issues and plans for improvement from their own point of view. The children, as well as the staff, felt that they were able to understand each other and that once again their connection is deepening. I think that is also because of PANGAEA carrying out regular activities through out the years.

I want to continue creating a special place where even more kids and staff can feel a "bond" and ask for everyone's continued warm support and encouragement.

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

Posted by: kumakinoko | 1. Activity Report | Permalink

February 04, 2010

 February 2010 Newsletter: Yumi's Monthly Note

Hello, everyone!

Pangaea Activities have begun this year, early January, in Kyoto at the Kyoto International School(KIS for short). This new Pangaea village will have children with diversified backgrounds, families from foreign countries, or Japanese families who came back from living in foreign countries. Pangaea will be held as a part of after-school activities weekly. There are also many unique nicknames for everyone to get to know, out of which the most interesting is Miso (means bean paste in Japanese) who will be one of the FL. Miso is an American who is a teacher at the KIS's Kindergarten, and because I myself was the same, I sensed a closeness to her. She is a person full of energy and has plenty of humour. It looks like the Pangaea Activities will be very lively.

I will be in Bario, Malaysia, from Jan 28th. I am quite well prepared, with shampoo that doesn't need water, insect repellent, anti-itch cream, and various medicines. Due to it's being the jungle and therefore a very high possibility of lots of rain, I had bought a 100yen rain coat and rain pants(water repellent pants) as well. I have also brought 3 flashlights. However... I think I will be too afraid to use them, after having experienced what happened when turning on a flashlight in Cambodia where there was no electricity. More than anything I am afraid of moths. They are my number fear, even more than snakes. When I turned on a flashlight in Cambodia, a frightening number of moths started to appear. I seriously nearly fainted. As a result, Toshi and I had had nights where we ate dinner in darkness while not even being able to see what we were eating. This time there are a lot of living things here that will probably have some of the kids participating in the Pangaea Activities going, "Wow, nice." But for me, moths and eating potatoes are a definite 'NO'. How am I going to hold out... I'll keep you updated on the blog. Malaysia's second base for the Pangaea activities will be up and running on the 30th of January in Bario.

Sophia, the FL from Seoul, came and visited Japan on the night before I departed for Malaysia, and we could meet up because she was coming to Kyoto. To be honest, I wanted to take her around and show her a lot of places, but due to need to be up and depart from Kyoto at about 7am the next day, we ended up having our meeting while eating dinner.

Also, on February 6th the first Pangaea base in Malaysia, UNIMAS, will be connecting with Mie University via the Webcam. We will be executing the menu with the use of the Language Grid. The menu is called Nazoren, however this time it will be coordinated with Wikipedia.
I'm looking forward to it!

So I am off and I will be careful and be back soon.


Posted by: kumakinoko | 3. Newsletter | Permalink

 February 2010 Newsletter: Pangaea ring - Mr. Toshihide Yoshioka

How do you do.

I am Toshihide Yoshioka. I have been a technology volunteer for Pangaea since April 2008. I am based in Kyoto and everyone calls me 'Yoshio'. It's nice meeting with you all (on-line) I first learned about Pangaea from Kadoppe, a senior at my college. One day, it happened that we went out drinking with some of my friends and Kadoppe told us in detail about his own research. He mentioned the Pangaea during his talk about his research. I got so excited about hearing about the Pangaea activities and conveyed my wishes to Kadoppe that I would definitely love to join and take part in the activities my own, thinking that there would not be so many opportunities for me to deal with such a big theme as the world peace. Kadoppe encouraged me to do my best and then introduced me to Toshi. I was then enrolled in the Pangaea activities.

As I started getting to know the children at the activities, they would innocently come up to talk to me and I found it very easy to make friends with them. I find the children's interesting world of imagination and how they act are quite educating for me. I believe that the children's getting experiences of communicating with their friends overseas using the Pictons at Pangaea activities will play an important and meaningful role in their own future. I would be happy if the children who are participating the Pangaea activities now will come back to Pangaea as facilitators.

I also joined internship at Pangaea. What I was assigned to do as an intern was to learn programming and in the end, to create the page for 'voting'. This site will allow the children to draw the picture of places where they are interested in going to and upload the drawings on the site so that the other children can vote for those places. These pictures were drawn by the children in Kyoto and Korea (Seoul), I was truly happy when the site was completed in the end with the support and guidance by Toshi. I felt it a special experience that I was able to provide the children from different countries with the 'place' on line where they were able to associate with each other.

I have recently been involved in the Pangaea activities as a technical leader at the activities held in Kyoto, doing some administrative work in the management office, as well as participating at the activities held every Monday at Kyoto International school as a technical staff. I especially enjoy spending my time at Kyoto International School, the new environment for me, where the children and the facilitators all speak in English. I find it very exciting. I am on the stage of trying to get myself used to speaking in English but I am very much inspired and I hope to improve my English ability myself to be able to people overseas.

I see who I am now and who I was before participating in the Pangaea activities totally different. I have been able to meet with so many new people, learn so many new things gaining valuable experiences through Pangaea. I am looking forward to continuing taking part in the Pangaea activities as much as I can.
Thank you!

Doshisha University Graduate School of Engineering
Information and Computer Science

Toshihide Yoshioka

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

February 01, 2010

 Starting Bario!

20100130_Bario.jpg I went to the Long-awaited Barrio in Malaysia, the second base. I explained PANGAEA to everybody and held the first activity. It took an hour from the first base of Kuching City to the second base, and, if by air propeller boat, it would take about 1.5 hours to the inland. If it was the small plane, the checking of weight was very severe and even the body weight was to be measured.
Located in the high mountain, the way to Barrio is difficult. It is such an interior jungle that not many people from outside came until recently. The people at this altitude were known for the tenement buildings, called Holy longhouse. Children in Barrio highlands hadn't received education in school because of high altitude until now. Even the nearest neighborhood, it took children 15 days’ walking from where they lived. Therefore, they had to live in the boarding school. It was easy to imagine how lonely these children were, living in school away from their parents, at such elementary or middle school age.

Schools have generators to generate electricity. But the majority of regions in the village have no electricity. It took about 30 minutes from the airport to the destination, sitting on a truck along the muddy road. Because Toshi had no place to sit on, he had to stand at the truck’s carrier, holding the pillar firmly to keep himself on the truck. Unconsciously, his pants had been covered with mud.
However, compared with the seven hours in Cambodia before establishing PANGAEA, the situation was much better. Compared with the muddy roads that Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs had taken us traversed, the air here was pretty fresh. So I was already satisfied. We took a house of a school’s teacher’s as a base. They suggested me that I should take some instant noodle, because of the poor quality of local food, but the local food was no longer the problem at the moment. And the only problem was bathing. Since there was no bathhouse, the showers were in the washroom. There was merely cold water, rather than hot water, because of the high altitude, which made us easy to get cold. That was also the reason why I had not taken a bath for 4 days. Fortunately, I had some dry-clean shampoo with me.

Teachers were popular in Barrio, but, as for children, teachers were awe-inspiring. I was afraid whether children were willing to take part in this activity. However, in the training process, the atmosphere got harmonious gradually after the teachers’ self-introduction in children's capacity. Therefore, many villagers joined in this training, such as the tribal old lady, the old man who were adept at drawing and lived 3 kilometers away, the doorkeeper, and so on. It was just like in Osaka, everyone was happy because the presence of the old lady selling Takoyaki. And this happy atmosphere laid the foundation for the successful training in the second day.

However there is a problem. Although it is said that the locals have no problem with English, from the perspective that facilitator translated my English into something of Malay, there are still some people who are poor in English or even know nothing about English, so I have to use the on-line translation software “Toolbox” by Language Grid. Additionally a few days ago it didn’t detect the network links, so the network connection has remained the state of disconnection. Now I try to reconnect once and fortunately the connection is successful. By using Toolbox I can translate English into Malay more and more smoothly.
Everybody sees the translation and knows what to do next more and more clearly, so the progress is more and more smooth. Whether PANGAEA, or Toolbox, is everyone's wisdom. Through ICT I can feel children’s excitement because of more communication with more children in the future. I want to deliver children's smile, who were happily waving goodbye to us when we left the village, to all the people supporting for this program.


Posted by: yumi | 8. General | Permalink