“Boston Boys and Girls Club/BEYOND Tomorrow Kesennuma Program”Post-event Report

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On the 24th to 25th of February 2012, the “Boston Boys and Girls Club/BEYOND Tomorrow Kesennuma Program” was held in Kesennuma City of Miyagi Prefecture with the aim of enabling exchange between Japan and the United States in the disaster areas. Under this program 11 high school students who have been studying Japanese language and culture in Boston, the United States, made a visit to the disaster areas with Japanese students from the area. The students heard testimonies direct from the local people, and walked through the disaster areas with high school students from Kesennuma, discussing the future form that is hoped for Tohoku.

Participants

Eleven students visiting Japan from the “Boston Boys and Girls Club” in Boston, the United States, and eight Japanese high school students affected by the disaster who are from the Kesennuma area.

Concept

  1. First-hand Experience
    The American high school students received a guided tour through the disaster areas by local high school students from Kesennuma, and were able to see with their own eyes the effects of the tsunami and heard personal stories of the local students – such as “the remaining marks of where my house used to stand before it was washed away by the tsunami”, and “the road I ran down trying to escape on the 11th March”. In doing this the students were able to relive the terrible effects the Great East Japan Earthquake has exerted.
  2. Dialogue
    In tackling the issues at hand together, the American high school students deepened mutual understanding through the keyword of “earthquake disaster”, and created the opportunity for training ideas that transcend regional boundaries and race.
  3. Communication
    At the end of the program all the students developed presentations on “what we want the world to know about Tohoku disaster areas”.

Program Overview

24th February (Friday)
  • Breakfast at a local coffee shop and conversation with the owner leading the local economic reconstruction activities
  • Presentation about the disaster by a local business leaders
  • Lunch
  • Visit to Toryo High School
  • Cross-cultural leadership activities
  • Welcome dinner
25th February (Saturday)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit to the disaster areas (Students were split into teams, and made visits to the actual locations in which the remains of houses of BEYOND Tomorrow students and the roads on which they escaped from the tsunami could be seen)
  • Preparation and execution of presentations,
  • Lunch
  • “HOPE” Recording/Promotional video shooting
    *”HOPE” is a duet produced by the British musicians Julian Lennon and Nick Wood, dedicated to the children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The students participating in this program provided the back-chorus for the piano arrangement of “HOPE” performed by Tetsuya Komuro. This was recorded and filmed over the course of this program, and released on iTunes from the 8th March. Click here for video

Key learning

“First and foremost, what we want America to know is that we do not want people to forget about this tragic event”
“While it is important to learn the fact that the disaster afflicted the tens of thousands of victimsr, it is extremely important to hear the individual stories behind that fact” “When I actually walked through the disaster area, I could feel the grief the disaster caused people”
“I was really surprised by the strength of Japan’s local communities”
“The land hit by the tsunami still has the foundations of many washed-away houses left behind. Within these physical squares of blank space people’s houses, lives and dreams existed. Just with the words ‘square space’ this can’t be expressed” “Eleven months have passed since the disaster, and now the local people are working hard towards recovery and to once more re-establish the area. That memory is something I shall never forget”
“In the U.S., you hear lots of information through the news, but it doesn’t provide the chance to actually really perceive the situation. Through this program I was able to learn so much through seeing things in person” “Financial support is important, but I also learnt about the importance of supporting the people by taking action together”

About Boston Boys and Girls Club

The Boston Boys and Girls club is a 501(c)3 based in Boston, Massachusetts, whose mission is to help young people build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. (Website:http://www.bgcb.org

Media Coverage

Television
Higashi Nippon Broadcasting “Super J Channel Miyagi”
The Yomiuri Shimbun(25th February) sanriku shimpo(26th February) The Kahoku Shimpo(1st March)

Supporting and Cooperation Businesses and Organizations:

  • The Tokyo Itoi Shigesato Office
  • The Fish Family Foundation
  • Syn