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.
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