Carry Over the Bond

              Reiko Kato, President of Meguro UNESCO Association
carry over the bond.JPG
Was it the Indian Ocean? I was having dinner in the dining room on the upper deck, when I found the sky dyed with dark grayish purple through a round window. I immediately put down my chopsticks to clatter onto the deck with some other members, holding an orange slice served for dessert in one hand. “I shall remember how I feel now for the rest of my life” said a member at my side to herself. As the sun set below the horizon, the sky and the ocean changed their colors from moment to moment. I saw myself transfixed before the vast extent of the sky, the deep blue sea, and a white boat floating in between. I felt myself tiny. I felt something sublime. I felt the harshness as well as the richness of nature….

I was on the ocean in the early spring 40 years ago on the 4th Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise organized by the Cabinet Office. The previous paragraph is an excerpt from the report I wrote on the ship. The ship was the Sakura Maru (12,600 tons), which used to be a trade fair ship. We visited 6 countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Taiwan over 51 days. More than 350 people joined the program and young people from various countries were on board. We forged close relationships with each other while discussing a topic entitled “What should we do together with young people from other Asian countries?”, learned many things, and experienced the strict discipline required to live as a group. Thanks to sincere efforts by the leader, we still try to learn from each other, and keep the strong bond.

In January this year, some 50 people who used to participate in Meguro UNESCO’s youth activities had a reunion. The former youth members are now mothers and fathers. Most of them have left the Association since they moved to other areas for work or set up their own organizations. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time seeing smiling faces of former fellow members. Mr. Nutt was also there. He studied in Japan and returned to his home country Myanmar. He came to Japan after a 15 year absence to join the gathering. He told that he is ardently engaged in volunteer activities in education, motivated by the encounter with UNESCO activities. However far away, the bond has not been broken. What people learn from experiences in their youth can enrich and guide their lives.

On a Sunday in March during the last cold snap accompanied by cherry blossoms, young people’s voices on the street calling for donations are still ringing in my ears. (Please refer to the picture) I sincerely hope that the UNESCO movement will resonate with as many people as possible to carry over the bond into the future.

Postscript: Recently, the International Exchange Programs of the Cabinet Office has been diversified. In FY2010, the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan started to recommend young members of UNESCO Associations in Japan for candidates for the programs. I would like many young people to try it.
I myself came to seriously work on UNESCO activities after I experienced “The 4th Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise”.
                              - translated by Hiroko Minowa

Iraqi Children ? Part lll

     Noboru Mochizuki, Vice President of Meguro UNESCO Association

In March, 2010, the Meguro UNESCO office received a copy of a JIM-NET newsletter, in which Dr. Minoru Kamata, Representative of JIM-NET, expressed his appreciation of our donation to the Valentine’s Chocolate Campaign. The headline read “Thank You. Thank You So Much!”.

In FY2009 Meguro UNESCO Association participated in the Valentine’s Chocolate Campaign. What we prepared for the occasion was ten chocolates, made by Rokkatei, in a round tin box printed with a cute picture. The boxes sold for \500 each and luckily all 120 boxes we prepared were sold. Four different pictures printed on the tin cans were drawn by Sabreen Hafed, a girl from Basra, in the southern part of Iraq, who was studying at a class in hospital. She had eye cancer and passed away last October at the age of 15. I am very sad to say that Sabreen never had a chance to see her own pictures on the cans.
chocolate box from Iraq.JPG

JIM-NET is a NGO of Japan Iraq Medical Network. This NGO actively works for saving those Iraqi children who have cancer or leukemia after being exposed to radiation of depleted uranium shells left from the Iraqi War. All the profit from the Valentine’s Chocolate Campaign is used for those activities.

Japan is the only nation that has experienced the devastating atomic radiation, and it is widely known that there are still victims suffering from the radiation exposure. The documentary film by Steven Okazaki, White Light / Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was shown by Meguro UNESCO Association last July, is still fresh in our minds.

When I visited the JIM-NET office, I happened to meet Mr. Maki Sato and Mr. Kumagai who had just returned from Iraq and they updated me of the condition there. They said that the predicament of Iraq seemed almost forgotten in Japan, but they were still in great need of reconstruction of infrastructure. Hospitals were not properly functioning and they needed a big support in the form of medical goods.

Naturally the support by Meguro UNESCO Association is limited, but we would like to offer some help to the Valentine’s Chocolate Campaign again this fiscal year to save as many Iraqi children as possible.
                            - translated by Nobuko Matsushita

Students from Iga Municipal Suko Junior High School

〜 Welcome to Meguro UNESCO Association! 〜
May 19 (Wed.) 10:00~11:50 / Meguro UNESCO Office
Attendees: 20 students of Suko Junior High School (9th grade)
2 escorting teachers
Lecture: “Report on the Study Tour in Cambodia”
Lecturer: ERI HOJO, a youth member
This year, students from Iga Municipal Suko Junior High School visited our office, in the course of their school trip, following an earlier visit by Iga Municipal Aoyama Junior High School students. After a welcoming address and introduction on activities of Meguro UNESCO Association by Ms. Akiko Miyashita, vice-president, two members (Ms. Saito and I) introduced ourselves and expressed our thoughts about UNESCO activities.

The lecture on Cambodia kicked off by introducing its national flag, population and the capital, by Miss Eri Hojo, who visited Cambodia last year as a member of the Nongovernmental UNESCO Movement Promotion Committee. Subsequently she introduced its culture (including Apsara dance, Angkor Wat, etc.), issues of education (literacy rate above 15 years, shortage of elementary schools, etc.), as well as peace (injury by land mines, etc.) in the form of quiz questions. After having group work discussing photos, Miss Hojo told them about her junior high school days, club activity, student council, and study, including her experience of the Junior Red Cross Training Center and a student delegation to Hiroshima. She then disclosed her amazing motto, “Whenever you intend to do something; then is the best time to start!”

There was some vigorous dialogue between students and the members, such as “Are you engaged in activities to found more schools?” and “The World Terakoya Movement is not only for building schools, but also for developing human resources such as teachers, which requires money and knowledge.”

Having tea together, the students shared with us valuable impressions, such as: “It’s fun to learn in the form of quiz questions,” “Now I’ve perceived how I’m blessed, although I thought I was less fortunate,” and “I want to raise money by collecting miswritten postcards.” I do believe it was a memorable day for them.
         - written by Emiko Nishimura and translated by Sumiko Hattori

Report on the 6th General Assembly of NPO Meguro UNESCO Association

May 22 (Sat), 2010, 14:00- / Restaurant (1F) of Meguro City Office Complex
Attended by 181 regular members (among them 126 were letters of attorney), youth members, others
6th General Assembly.JPG
The General Assembly of this year started with an opening address by Ms. Mai Ito, a youth director. After a silent prayer for members who passed away over the last year, Ms. Reiko Kato, the president of Meguro UNESCO Association, extended her gratitude towards all the people who gave cooperation to Meguro UNESCO Association, and she mentioned her intention to devote energies especially to youth activities this year, regarding the "Meguro UNESCO Action Award" that was started last year as a springboard.

Congratulatory speech by the guests:
Mr. Aoki, Mayor of Meguro City / Mr. Oshio, Superintendent of Education of Meguro City / Mr. Suzuki, Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member / Mr. Ito, Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member / Ms. Kamoshida, Vice Chairperson of Meguro City Assembly

Agenda: The following items were discussed and approved.
1. FY 2009 activity reports (by activity committee chairs), statement of accounts, and audit report
2. FY2010 activity plan and budget
3. Appointment of Mr. Noriaki Sagara to the board of directors
4. Amendment to the articles of incorporation: Some articles being needed to be revised after 5 years from the establishment of incorporated nonprofit organization, draft revisions were prepared.
The draft revisions reported by Mr. Sagara, Chair of the ad hoc committee on amended articles of incorporation, were discussed and approved.

All the discussions progressed smoothly, and the conference closed with a closing address by Eri Hojo, a youth member, at 15:20.
         - written by Yoshio Shimizu and translated by Mami Kawaguchi

Meguro UNESCO Japaness Language Class

Steady and dedicated activities in 23 years
Sponsor: NPO Meguro UNESCO Association,
Co-sponsor: Meguro Board of Education
Participants & Grade: Foreigners aged 16 and over, Group lessons for Beginners ~ Intermediate
Classes: 1) every Tue. & Thu. 10:00~
      2) every Tue. 18:30~
      3) every Sat. 10:00~
Place: Meguro School Support Center (3-6-10 Nakameguro)
Term: 3 terms a year (Note: Next term starts in mid. Sept. at Sakura Plaza at 2-4-18 Chuo-cho, and in Oct.~Dec. at above place. )

Started with one participant in 1987, now 150 from over 40 countries enjoy learning with 40 teachers.

The number of participants at our Japanese language classes varies from class to class. The members of teaching staff teach their classes with equal eagerness if it is a class of a 2~3 participants or as many as more than 30 participants. The teaching staff's background also varies from those teaching for 23 long years since its very beginning, those having experience in living overseas, those devoting their time after child-raising, and those challenging a second life after retirement. In teaching a language, being a native speaker is not good enough, it is necessary to see and understand the country where the language is spoken and its language itself from outside, from foreigners' point of view. As many sample sentences as possible useful for participants need to be prepared for the class. Such background of the teaching staff, with various knowledge and experience in their career serves as a great advantage when they teach Japanese.
Being Meguro UNESCO Friendship Members, participants also enjoy joining cultural occasions, including cooking classes, tours in Meguro or events introducing Japanese culture. Thus by attending Japanese language class, participants and the members of teaching staff share and mutually promote the nongovernmental UNESCO movement in the world.
              - written by Mariko Omae and translated by Hiroe Nitta

2-24-3 Gohongi Meguro-ku, Tokyo
[Office hours]13:00〜16:00
(Mon through Fri)