December 2006 Pangaea Newsletter


Monthly Note by Yumi, President of Pangaea
Monthly Note by Toshi, Vice President of Pangaea
Activity Report by Ms. Mariko Yamazaki, Activity Staff
Messange from Ms. Heeryon Cho, Volunteer
November 2006 Events

Yumi's Monthly Note

I got back home from Seoul, Korea today (Nov 26, 2006). It is a relief that we completed the Japan-Korea Simultaneous Activity all right, although I still find myself excited from it. Well-experienced facilitators and the staffs at Tokyo formed a great team and I could feel the air of their excitement from Seoul.

In Seoul, the weather turned really cold all of a sudden and the MIZY center staff and the translation volunteers caught a cold one after another. I must admit, to be honest, I was never more nervous for the activity than this time, ever. Numbers of the staffs at Seoul was almost a quarter of that of Tokyo. As it turned out, however, the activity was completed with a great success, and more than anything, we had a tangible positive result from it.

More than one-third of the children participated on Seoul side responded that they either "did not like Japan at all" or they "did not like Japan so much" to the questionnaire prior to the activity. After the activity, however, everyone except for one said they liked Japan. The boy who answered that he still did not like Japan so much said that it is because he could not clearly see the hints given for the quizzes from Japan side.

Children got many answers right at each side, when we played "What I Want to Be". This is the game where participants have to guess what their counterparts would like to become when they grow up. Children in Seoul would joyfully say "Seika-i!" ("Correct answer!" in Japanese) when the Japanese children took the right guess. I do believe that children's shy smiles when their names were called from the other side must have warmed up everyone's heart.

Min, who participated in the activity as a Korean facilitator, was to go to his compulsory military service in two weeks time. He would leave the college for two years as a sophomore. He has been a part of Pangaea for the past year. At the party after the event, he shared his wish with me that Pangaea will spread all over the world and there would no longer be the compulsory military service in ten years from now. I sincerely, strongly and simply wish that he would come back to Pangaea all well after his military service. Min wrote a Pangaea Ring essay before he went service, which will be delivered to you in our next issue.

We have identified some operational issues that we have to work on.
Trying to make the best use of our experience from the activity, our next target is to connect Seoul and Mie Prefecture site in Japan in March next year. The most important thing for us is to make a steady, step-by-step progress.

Yumiko Mori

Toshi's Monthly Note

We have only less than a half of a month left this year. The biggest event we had in November was the Korea-Japan Simultaneous Activity and I participated from Seoul, Korea as a technical leader. Before and after the event, we conducted a questionnaire asking both countries' impression. Participants could not communicate each other through languages, let alone have never seen each other before.

However a result of the questionnaire showed that children felt bond and had a positive image towards each other's country or people by sharing the experience of the activities. This was what I felt the happiest by doing this event. I would like to see how the future world will be when they become adults.

We have two good news in our R&D. The first good news is that I got a grant from IPA Exploratory Software Project. IPA, Information-Technology Promotion Agencies, is an independent administrative agency of METI, Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry in Japan. This is my second time to get this grant. Its aim is to support the continuous growth of Japanese economy through its technology and people, and the project specializes in seeking genius programmers and super-creators from Japan.

The previous PM, project manager, was Prof. Toru Ishida, Kyoto University. This time, I will conduct a research with Prof. David J. Farber as a PM, who is a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is known as "a grandfather of the Internet" and is worldly praised as one of the researchers who contributed to the birth of the Internet. The theme I will be working on is software development of empathy-enhanced communication platform via webcam beyond language barriers. I would like to update this project occasionally.

The second good news is that I received a special award at an academic conference event called "Design Symposium of the Information Society 2006" held on November 30th and December 1st in Tokyo, Japan. I participated as a panelist of a discussion on "Symbiotic-Programming Saves Japanese Information Society". It is a new attempt made by IPSJ, Information Processing Society of Japan; IEIC, Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers; and JSAI, Japanese Society for AI. Its aim is to provide an opportunity to discuss the future of information society and to propose next-generation information society model and new technologies for their realizations.

The panel discussion about a new method of software development by local public schools, civil communities, and NPO including Pangaea was closed after insightful comments and discussions participated by the audience made up of students and professional experts in the field.

We will start Pangaea Activity in Mie University in January 2007. We have conducted facilitator training sessions this month. Now that the Korea-Japan Synchronous Activity was successfully completed, I would like to put all my energy into R&D.

Take Care and Happy Holidays,
Toshiyuki Takasaki

Activity Report - Mariko Yamazaki

I'm relieved that the busy month for the preparation and the execution of the Japan-Korea Simultaneous Activity is over. Looking back, children and volunteers enjoyed it so much, although there were many improvement requirements to be addressed.

The questionnaires before and after the event have revealed what Japanese children felt about Korea. Before the event, the image children had about Korea was limited to generic ones such as; " No idea", "Kimchi (Korean Pickles)", "Korean BBQ", "Bae Yong Joon (Korean actor)". After the event, their comments has changed to; "I was glad that my Korean friend called me by my name. They are kind to me", "They're cheerful. I'd like to play with them more, with other games.", "They're similar to Japanese. There were many good Korean people". Children responded positively.

Only one child rejected to answer the questionnaire. During the games, he looked unhappy when nobody guessed his future dream right. It seems that the occupation he has chosen was not very popular in Korea, unlike in Japan. My regret is that I could not take time to make him understand that this is due to the cultural difference, because I was pressed by the time-schedule of the event.

Some children could feel the personality of their counterparts, and told in the questionnaire that Korean people were very kind, despite the limited time that they spent together. I am hoping that a Japanese boy who was unhappy with the incorrect guesses and the Korean one who said he doesn't like Japan even after the event would remember the day as their enjoyable memory all the same.

Fall has passed by and the winter is coming. Looking back, this was the year of "big change" for Pangaea and myself. I am looking forward to the new developments in 2007.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!
Mariko Yamazaki

Pangaea Ring: Message from Pangaeans

My name is Heeryon Cho. I am a Korean student studying in Japan, now on the PhD program in the Department of Social Informatics at Kyoto University. I am working with Pangaea R&D team on developing a pictogram retrieval system.

With the advent of World Wide Web, people around the world can now post their thoughts on the Web. I often read various posts in Korean and in Japanese, and I notice that Koreans having acquaintances in Japan or Japanese having acquaintances in Korea do not criticize the other country or its people so readily.

Knowing each other on a personal basis can foster good feelings toward each other even if the two are from different background, country, or culture. That is why I believe that Pangaea's activity on building ties among children is a sure step forward in creating a harmonious world. I fully support Pangaea, and am proud to be part of it.

Heeryon Cho

November 2006 Events

November 1st and 29th - Mie Site (Japan) Launch Briefing

A briefing held on the launch of our new activity site in Mie Prefecture, Japan supported by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology International Education Promotional Plan. A steady preparation is currently in progress for its start in mid January.

November 25th - Japan-Korea Simultaneous Activity

On the day of the Activity, 19 children on Tokyo side, 16 on Seoul, got together and played "Otobiko" and "What I Want to Be" through the web cameras. They also exchanged their picton mails.

November 30th - Grant from "IPA Exploratory Software Project" by METI, Japan

Toshiyuki Takasaki, our Chief Technology Officer got a research grant from "IPA Exploratory Software Project" from METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), Japan. He will conduct further research and development under the supervision of Prof. David J. Farber of Carnegie Mellon University.

December 1st - Award from Design Symposium of the Information Society 2006 in Tokyo, Japan

Toshiyuki Takasaki, our Chief Technology Officer joined the panel discussion as a panelist at the symposium event titled as "Symbiotic- Programming Saves Japanese Information Society." and was awarded the honorable special award with two other panelists.