Japan: Summer Event for Elementary School Children: “I Want to Know More about the World!”

Experiencing the Daily Lives of Children in Myanmar (Burma), Afghanistan, and South Sudan
AAR Japan hosted a summer event for elementary school children entitled, “Experience the daily lives of children around the world: Take a round-the-world journey in 90 minutes.” The event was held in AAR Japan’s Tokyo office once in the morning and once in the afternoon on August 21st, and was attended by 21 elementary school children and their parents.

Children at the event “depart” on a world trip conducted by Takehiro HOZUMI, AAR Japan staff (left).
The event began with a quiz from Mr. Takashi SAWAUCHI, a 37-year veteran social studies teacher in junior and senior high school, now a part-time international studies instructor at Bunkyo University. After he introduced the national flags of the countries where AAR Japan has been working worldwide, the children enjoyed activities simulating a day in the lives of children living in Myanmar (Burma), Afghanistan and South Sudan, where the culture and lifestyle are quite different from Japan’s. Each activity focused on the life of a different child in each respective country.

Under the direction of Mr. Takashi SAWAUCHI, the children find the countries where AAR Japan is active. At the same time, they deepen their understanding of the meanings behind the various national flags.

Tomoko SONODA, AAR Japan staff, acts as a guide to Myanmar (Burma), encouraging the children to introduce themselves in Burmese.

Children try on a “longyi,” the traditional ethnic garb of Myanmar, which they have seen worn by a girl named Chaw Su Hlaing. At right is Tomoko SONODA of AAR Japan.
Chiaki FURUKAWA (right), AAR Japan staff, uses photos and videos to describe the daily life of an Afghan boy named Modaser.

Hopping on one foot, the children play “ghorsay”, a popular game among Afghan boys.

The children experienced collecting drinking water, a routine task for Josephine Nachebe of South Sudan. At left is Takeshi IKEDA, AAR Japan staff.

Confections from Various Countries, Messages to Friends Around the World
After experiencing children’s daily lives in three countries, the participants enjoyed confections and teas from around the world. The children then wrote letters to the three international children who cooperated in preparing the presentation: Chaw Su Hlaing in Myanmar (Burma), Modaser in Afghanistan, and Josephine Nachebe in South Sudan. The letters will be translated into each child’s native language and delivered directly by AAR staff in each country. They will then write letters back to the Japanese children.

“I hope we can play together in Japan some day”: The participants write letters to children living in Myanmar (Burma), Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

Potato chips from Tajikistan and bean rice from Myanmar (Burma) are particularly popular among the participants.

We asked the participants for their thoughts on the event:

ž   “I enjoyed watching videos and hearing people’s voices.” (Grade 6 boy)
ž   “It was fun to carry water overhead.” (Grade 3 girl)
ž   “I want to know more about other countries, too.” (Grade 4 girl and grade 3 boy)
ž   “I think introducing children who are the same age as the participants made our children feel closer to these countries. It’s a nice idea to send letters to children abroad.” (Parent in her 40s)
ž   “Mr. SAWAUCHI’s story about national flags was very interesting. I was surprised that there are such deep meanings to their colors and designs.” (Parent in his 40s)
ž   “I'd like to have the same lecture at my school someday.” (Parent in her 40s)
ž   “The children seemed to be very interested in today's topic. These are things that can’t be taught in school textbooks, so even we adults had fun.” (Parent in her 30s)
We offer our thanks to everyone who attended the event in spite of the hot weather. We also thank the students from Shoei Girls' Jr. & Sr. High School for volunteering to help run the event.