Hello Asia: A summer event for elementary school students

Tokyo was connected with Myanmar and Afghanistan through Skype

On August 21st, 2013, AAR Japan held a summer event aimed at elementary school students called Hello Asia. Through this event, local AAR Japan office staff in both Yangon (Myanmar) and Kabul (Afghanistan) directly communicated with the participating children online using Skype. The event was held over two sessions, a Myanmar session and an Afghanistan session Thirty-three elementary school students and thirteen parents attended.

After a short introductory video by the local staff members, Takashi SAWAUCHI, previously a high school Social Studies teacher for thirty-eight years (currently a lecturer at the Faculty of International Studies at Bunkyo University), introduced the flags and the living environments of the countries using fun quizzes and bingo games. Afterwards, the children were split up into groups where they came up with questions they wanted to ask regarding life in each of the countries, such as the climate, the culture, work and school.

A video call with the AAR Japan office in Yangon. Local staff member Thinza (right on the screen) and Japanese staff Namiko MOTOKAWA (left on the screen). The MC for the event, Takehiro HOZUMI, is pictured front-right. (August 21st2013)

Each group came up with unique questions such as “What is considered the most gourmet food in Afghanistan?” and “I heard that in some countries overseas they study in English and not their mother tongue. Is this the case in Myanmar?” Both local staff members Thinza (Myanmar) and Yama HAKAMI (Afghanistan) happily answered the questions, and gave thoughtful responses to some surprising questions.

At the end of the sessions, the children greeted the local staff by saying a loud “Goodbye!” in the local language. The children faced the Skype cameras and waved goodbye.

Learning general knowledge about Myanmar and Afghanistan through Bingo and quizzes with lecturer Takashi SAWAUCHI (right). It was a fun learning environment as the children laughed at SAWAUCHI’s jokes.
With the help of local Myanmar restaurant “May,” located near the AAR Japan office, the children were able to try some traditional sweets of Myanmar. 

Each group came up with questions in line with different themes such as: Family, Hobbies and Games, Clothes and Food. While a little embarrassed, the children came up with a wide variety of questions.
While excited nerves built up before the Skype connection was established, once connected, the children happily greeted Afghani local staff Yama HAKAMI (pictured on the screen) with the greeting they had just learnt, “Asalam Walaikum (Hello)”, and began to ask the questions.
While the children were coming up with the questions, SAWAUCHI conducted a small lecture for the parents. He spoke about the meaning behind the flags of the world and how to promote international understanding at home.
At the end of the event, the children wrote letters to the local staff members they had just spoken with over Skype. These will be translated and will be delivered. 
Now we will introduce some comments from the participants:

The Myanmar Session
  • I was surprised that there are only three seasons in Myanmar. I was happy to have learnt three words in Burmese: Mingalarpar (Hello), Thwa dau (Goodbye) and Kyeizu tin ba de (Thank you). (Grade 3, Female)
  • I have always wanted to know more about the world, and today I got to learn about Myanmar. I was very happy. Please teach me more things. (Grade 3, Female)
  • It was very meaningful, as there are few chances to interact with the other cultures and languages of Asia. (Parent)
  • As it is difficult to interact with people from developing countries at home, this was an invaluable experience. (Parent)

The Afghanistan Session
  • I learnt a lot about Afghanistan. There were things that were similar to and different from Japan. (Grade 6, Male)
  • Thanks to Yama, today I learnt a lot about Afghanistan. I want to research more about Afghanistan. (Grade 5, Female)
  • I thought it was great that we could speak directly with a local. This will probably be very useful for the children’s summer newspaper writing project. My views on Afghanistan have also changed. (Parent)
  • Great memories were made as Yama worked hard to try and answer the children’s questions. Mr. SAWAUCHI’s world flag lecture was also very informative; I hope to share this with my children as well. (Parent)

The total of 25,600 yen that was collected through attendance fees, charity goods sales, and donations on the day will be used for assistance activities conducted by AAR Japan.

Natsuki MATSUMOTO, Tokyo Office

From April 2012, MATSUMOTO has been responsible for public relations at the Tokyo Office. While completing her post-graduate studies she interned at an international organization. After completing her post-graduate studies, she began her work at AAR Japan.