September 02, 2014

 Pangaea Newsletter for September

Hello everyone, I am Jyoko in charge of NL.
The office is settling down after the Summer school:KISSY.
But we are packed with activities such as next year KISSY,
Brazil site preparation, and recruitment of future volunteers.
September edition starts with the heart-warming letter
from the parent of KISSY participants, followed
by reports on the Vegetalia Miedai (Mie Univ.) facilitator training session.

1.PANGAEA Ringー Ms. Okamura 
2.Vegetalia Miedai (Mie Univ.) facilitator training session.

1.PANGAEA Ringー Ms. Okamura 
Dear PANGAEA secretariat,

Hello, Yumi-san and all PANGAEA staff members.
Thank you very much for giving our children
the opportunity to participate in the KISSY for a week.
We were concerned when my daughter had the fever
the day before the activity wondering if she could go.
However, she had the strong belief that “nothing will stop me from going!”,
and her fever was gone by the time she left home.

During these 6 days, I was alone (my husband was on the overseas business trip).
I spent days going over the PANGAEA Web Page
while enjoying the brief moment of my single life.

Yesterday, at Kyoto terminal, I collected children with great smiles.
Watching their sorrow of parting, I felt sure of their rich experience
during the 6-days program.
I asked many questions to them. Most of all, I was very curious about
“how did you communicate when the translation device was not available?”
Their response was very interesting.
“We used all English that we knew. With the help of gestures.
We were able to communicate reasonably well.”

My children’s English is still very limited
for they have just started to take lessons from this April.
So their motivation to try to communicate with their capacity
and fill the lack with gestures really surprised me.
They told me that they learnt that gestures
had worked for the decent level of communication,
but at the same time, they could have been misunderstood.

Through the interchange of the room temperature
(up or down) adjustments between the Kenyan child,
they realized the difference between people living with
and without Air Conditioners, and they were surprised to find out
that the child from Cambodia was already
in the 2nd great of the Junior High School through the grade skipping.
They were only able to learn things like these because they had participated in KISSY.
They also said that “we would not have realized these things if we had not gone to the camp”.

They also shared the fact that
they were able to become friends in the much better way than
they had initially expected and were able to become good friends
with Children from Korea.
Then I deliberately asked the nasty question to my daughter.
“TV and newspapers say that Japan and Korea are not in good relationship.
How were the children from Korea you actually met?”
My daughter’s response was
“That’s adults’ matter, right? Only adults say that they “hated” Korea
but it does not apply to us. We became good friends.
They were all very nice.” She said so clearly.
I heard a lot from my children about KISSY,
but I was taken aback by this response.
At the same time I keenly felt so good about me sending them to KISSY.
It was me who had been mindful of the country difference.
Children were not sensitive about the other children’s country
but only their personality.
Other Japanese children were also new to them and were
“How do you do” relationship at Kyoto Station, so as all others.
As for the KISSY activity which had started with “How do you do”,
the country difference between Japan, Korea, Cambodia and Kenya had probably been irrelevant.
Of cause there were times when they were not able to be frank with,
but those moments were
not because of “they were Korean” or “they were Cambodian”,
but because of their personality like “○○ said xx” or “☆☆ did xx”.
(Just my personal impression for they were talking unconsciously.)

Listening to their experience,
I had to reconsider how important it was to raise children “without bias”.
It is us the adults, who are creating the unstable world situation
and it’s our problem. We should not imbed such mindset in the children of our future.
”Seeing is believing”.
I think that they had experienced this proverb through this activity.

My son said
“I saw them as the “human” in the globe.
I did not care where they were from”
showing the confidence in himself for having been able to become friends with anyone.

Thank you very much for this valuable opportunity.
Children are already prepared for next year’s activity!
I could not help myself from conveying my appreciation
and have to apologize for this letter being so long.
My children will continue joining the Miedai (Mie Univ.) village.
Thank you for your kind support in advance.

Keiko Okamura, Mie Prefecture 

2.Vegetalia Miedai (Mie Univ.) facilitator training session.

 During the same period as Mie University Village activities
on 23rd August, a workshop for the facilitators who newly participate
there was held for two days. Five facilitators and a technical staff were born!

 Vegetalia Miedai Village is very popular now.
More than thirty children who were selected
from many applicants in a drawing are participating the activities.
We expect the facilitators that they convey the importance
to see not country, color of skin, or religion,
but “personality” to these children through PANGEA activities.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Also, Chairman Yumi-san told in the workshop as follows.
“PANGEA has many activities, such as introduction of friends,
favorite map, and others to express what the children like.
We regard their self-expression ability as important part of their personal development.
Most of their expression starts from their favorite.
It is more important to recognize what they talk for themselves
and whether or not they have their own story than they can speak English.”

It certainly that PANGAEA is international activity
although children don’t have to use English.
PANGAEA gives more priority enjoying communication to using English.
I remember the situation that the child
in the past PANGAEA activities was enjoying relaxing communication
with a Kenyan girl without using English.
Before KISSY activity, she was anxious about her English level.
I don’t think English is an only medium for international exchange.
Of course, English is important. One of the child told us
that he starts studying English because he could communicate more
if he could speak English well.
I thought that they can enjoy studying English
after they realize the necessity of it
by experiencing the difficulty of conveying their thought
due to the lack of English proficiency. 
I hope new facilitator will enjoy Pangaea activity, and I’d like to enjoy, too.

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