International elementary school students lend their support
On April 16, a group of 3 students from an international elementary school dropped by Peace Boat’s Tokyo office in Takadanobaba for a visit. The students explained that they heard about Peace Boat as part of a class project to learn about NGOs and NPOs.
Located in Tokyo’s Osaki area, the Canadian International School is a school for first-year elementary through third-year high school students from all over the world; most come to Japan because of their parents’ jobs. After learning in class about the social role played by NGOs and NPOs, the sixth-graders were given a major assignment: to go out and investigate an actual NGO, and give a group presentation back at school about the group’s activities.
Sixth-grade student Joao, from Portugal, searched online for information about NGOs in Japan. When he found Peace Boat, he thought, “It’s a boat that travels around the world–awesome!! Wow, they support the earthquake survivors in Tohoku, too! And there are international volunteers! It’s all for world peace!” He was so excited that he came to visit our office all by himself.
Joao returned to school, where he and his fellow group members Krysta and Ayan worked tirelessly to gather all of the information they had heard and researched and present it to the class. Other groups also gave presentations about many other NGOs, and in a class-wide contest, Joao and his group’s project about Peace Boat was selected as the best one. As part of the assignment, the school had promised to donate 5000 yen to the winning NGO, and Peace Boat was grateful to accept these funds.
After the presentation, many other connections between the school and Peace Boat’s disaster relief efforts came to light. Some of the other children mentioned, for example, that their mothers had volunteered in Ishinomaki. Finding out about these connections was another wonderful discovery for the group. The three students got even more excited, and decided to give another presentation for the school’s parents and guardians. To prepare, they came to visit our Takadanobaba office once more.
During this visit, the trio spoke with staff member Takahashi Maho, who is in charge of international efforts for the Tohoku relief project and has also participated in several global voyages onboard Peace Boat. The children wrote furiously, taking notes, as Maho explained about Peace Boat’s disaster relief activities to them in English. Their final question was:
“We’re only elementary school students; is there anything that we can do to help the people of Tohoku?”
Maho answered like this:
– Take what you’ve heard today and talk about it with everyone around you, at school and at home.
– You can also show your support by donating to groups that give aid to the people of Tohoku.
“How can we help our friends to understand about this?”
Rereading all of the notes they had taken, Joao and his friends went home and began to prepare for their next presentation and exhibit, to be given on May 11.
And then, the big day arrived.
The group prepared a donation box, a dance, and poems which they created all by themselves.
Five days later, Joao and Ayan hopped on the Yamanote line and rode once again to Takadanobaba as promised, with their hard-earned donation money clasped tightly in their hands. They were able to collect 2,000 yen, and the event was a big success.
“One day I’m going to ride on the boat, and go to Ishinomaki, too!”
Joao told this to Maho and then went home, grinning from ear to ear, proud of the great job he had done.
Joao, Krysta, and Ayan — thank you so much. On the boat or in Ishinomaki, we look forward to seeing you again soon!