Thank you always for your kind support and donations to the Tohoku Youth Venture program by Ashok Japan. We have received 66 donations in a total of $13,035 US dollars. We would like to present our recent work with the venturers in Japan.
On April 20th 2013, Ashoka Japan held the Tohoku Youth Venture Panel Presentation at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo. Since 2011, Ashoka Japan has been supporting the youth generation through the “Youth Venture” program by encouraging and enabling young adults to take action on their lives. In the spring of 2012, Ashoka proceeded to launch the “Tohoku Youth Venture”, a five year program which aims to support young people working to contribute to the recovery of Tohoku.
The Youth Venture Panel Presentation is not a contest where we choose winners and losers; instead, the purpose of this event is to examine the participants’ degree of passion towards their project as well as the feasibility of their plans. On April 20th, a total of six groups took part. Of the six teams, two qualified to become Tohoku Youth Venturers. We would like to introduce each venturers we chose.
Takuya, 20, realized there was lack of playgrounds for children in the areas of Tohoku affected by the disaster after visiting Tohoku couple times though tours that he planned and conducted on his own. Takuya plans to run bus tours connecting Tohoku and Kansai in order to create opportunities for Tohoku children to have a fun time away in Kansai. Takuya wishes to share his own experience of encountering new values and challenges through meeting and cooperating with people of his generation.
Yuuri, 17, organizes a group of students in her hometown, Minami Sanriku, to do story telling in English. Yuuri hopes that this group will act as a stepping stone for the young people to join local activities, think and express their opinions, and contribute to reconstruction. Although she had always been waiting for such opportunities, Yuuri realized that such opportunities would never come unless she sought them out for herself. As a youth venturer, she will bring such opportunities to others.
Following the presentations, the panelists provided the presenters with encouraging comments. Mr. Kawazoe (Ashoka Fellow, Representative Director of CarePro) pointed out that the goal is not to become a venturer, but instead accurately to communicate to others about our ideas in order to gain support. Ms. Mukaida (Representative of Coffret Project) remarked that even if our ideas are met with disapproval from adults, we should always take challenges in stride and let nothing stop us from achieving our goals and passion.
Ashoka Japan will continue to provide a network to support young entrepreneurs. Your support enables those future changemakers to do what they believe in. Thank you again for your support and please look forward to hear more about our work with aspiring young generations in Japan.
Thank you for all your support to our Tohoku Youth Venture program initiated by Ashoka Japan. We have received 61 donations in a total of $12,660.12 U.S. dollars.
We would like to introduce to you one of the youth initiatives that was launched by the generous support.
Daichi Yano, one of the Youth Venturers, started Three-Day College; Shaping the Future, events to connect the local kids in the disaster-stricken area and college students from all over Japan. The first event was organized from March 1st to the 3rd 2013 in Kesennuma.
I moved to Kesennuma, a disaster-stricken area, after March 11th 2011 taking a leave from college. Since then I have been engaged in tutoring local children in the area. What I keenly felt which tutoring was that those local kids do not have a chance to meet with college students therefore it is a challenge for them to envision their life after highschool. So I decided to create an opportunity to gather college students, professional adults and local kids together. The first three-day summit happened from March 1-3, 2012. The unexpected result was the 43 college students and 3 professional adults who attended as mentors were deeply inspired and empowered not only the local high school kids. The encounter gave them a chance to be self-reflective and think about the future of the area and its residents and how they could contribute.
Lecture by President of Hotel Boyo (35 attendees).
Since some of the college students had never visited Tohoku before, we had the president of a local hotel tell stories of what it was like at the time of the disaster and discuss other topics regarding Kesennuma. The goal here was to familiarize them with Kesennuma so that they could more easily talk to the high school students the following day.
Lecture and discussion session led by college students who were originally from Kesennuma and the other college students on the topic, “What does Kesennuma mean to you?”
I hoped that listening to their Senpais (a mentor or a senior) would spark some interest and questions on various topics in the local high school students. By presenting how college students see Kesennuma, it was an opportunity for the high school students to turn their eyes towards Kesennuma.
Instead of having the college students present their thoughts to the high school students, they discussed topics that the high school students were interested in. Each high school student wrote down their questions, what they discussed and their thoughts on vellum paper. This made it easier for the next student to come up and ask their question and it also helped the college students to come up with relevant topics.
On the last and final day, I hoped to get the college students to say that they like Kesennuma, that they would want to come back and by doing so, to create repeat participants for future sessions of “Kesennuma College: Shaping the Future” In addition, my hope was for the college students to maintain contact with each other even after they returned to their respective colleges and to start their own activities for Kesennuma.
As for South Kesennuma, one of the college students was originally from there so we asked her to walk around and see the disaster area for him/herself while recounting the hotel president’s story from the first day. We also walked up Mount Amba, from where we can see a beautiful view as well as the recovery situation of the whole of Kesennuma City, and discussed the future.
Here are some of the voices of the high school students who participated in the program:
“I will try doing first instead of just wondering whether I can or can’t.”
“It helped me in thinking about ‘becoming proactive in the recovery of Kesennuma.’”
“It changed my preconceptions of ‘college students’ and ‘college life.’”
“Until now, I’ve been very indecisive about what I want to be and what I want to do. But listening to these stories made me realize that what is important is to find something [eventually?] and that I don’t have to rush right now.”
From the college participants:
“If there is another one, I’d like to attend. There were a lot of things I came to realize through talking to the high school students.”
“I learned a little bit about Kesennuma. I’d like to come to Kesennuma again.”
What left an impression on me during the planning and execution of this project was the growth of the college participants.The college students make the high school students of the disaster areas and the disaster areas make the college students.
In this way, future sessions of “Kesennuma College: Shaping the Future” can help to energize high school students who already have a high sense of awareness on social issues living in an abnormal environment, namely, a disaster area, as well as to connect college students from all over the country to build further opportunities.
Thank you for all your support to our Tohoku Youth Venture program initiated by Ashoka Japan. We have received 36 donations from 32 donors, in a total of $3,666 U.S. dollars. Together with our other funding, the money will be used to bring 10 teams of youth ventures from 10 prefectures to Tokyo for 20 workshops. In the following passage I am going to share with you an overview of the project, and introduce to you one example of Youth Venture project.
The ten teams of Tohoku Youth Venturers started their action in October 2012. With a strong idea of “doing something for the Tohoku area”, these Young Venturers have been carrying out a variety of projects in the past few months. These projects aim to motivate more students to participate in and engage with the reconstruction process of Tohoku area, ranging from building a website for high school students to discuss and share ideas on unclear energy to proposing and carrying out a business plan to grow sales of local products. This time, I want to introduce to our dear GlobalGivers one aspiring Youth Venturer, Astushi Shida, who opened a second-hand clothing market, named Local Cross Market, to connect volunteers with local residents in Kesennuma area.
Mr. Atsushi Shida
Atsushi was born in Kesennuma, Miyagi, an area severely damaged and flooded during the last earthquake and the following tsunami. Immediately after the disaster, crowds of volunteers went to Kesennuma to help with the disaster relief and recovery of the area; yet as time goes by, the number of volunteers staying there has decreased dramatically. Unfortunately, the time is yet to come until Kesennuma can fully recover from the damages.
To keep volunteers and helpers coming, Atsushi thought, a place for volunteers and local residents to communicate and exchange ideas freely must be established. But “what type of place would motivate and facilitate people to communicate with each other,” he wondered.
Realized that people tends to communicate with each other pressure-free in the markets, Atsushi decided to open a used clothing store in the area. He recalled his high school years when students in a more remote area yearn for fashionable looks of students from Tokyo, where he attends college at—the idea of affordable second-hand clothing market emerged. He thereafter more than collected 200 pieces of used clothing from friends, and on December 9th, 2012 opened his first Local Cross Market.
This most inspiring event became possible thanks to your donations to Tohoku Youth Venture program. Aspiring projects like this one would not be possible without support from people like you. I, on behalf of Ashoka Japan and Youth Venturers, wish to show our gratitude to your generosity and wish the continuation of your support.
I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and the New Year full of health and happiness.