10th Ambassadors of Peace Network(APN) Report
What is Ambassador of Peace Network?
[Click here for more information about the background of APN]
What we are hoping to achieve at the 10th APN?
- For past participants, especially children, where they can confirm their growth and set higher goals.
- The event is seen as the next step after EIC (Increased in level and depth) & participants who can take own initiative.
- Networking & Reunion more towards strengthening.
Brief description of the event
APN is an annual gathering event mainly for past Kumon English Immersion Camp (EIC) participants, Camp Leaders and Staff. This year a total of 200 people attended the event which was held on Sunday 25th March at Kumon Headquarters in Shin Osaka. The event started at 10:30 am and ended at 17:00 pm. It was streamed live and 185 people watched it from all over the world. This year’s APN offered a place for past participants especially children to confirm their growth, set higher goals, and challenge themselves through different activities while continuing to update with one another through EIC network. This year’s event was organized together with the collaboration and cooperation of the EIC Café KANSAI members (OBOG of past English Immersion Camp (EIC) ) who also proposed the theme of ‘Globalization’. Under this theme several new activities were carried out such as ‘Speech Contest’, ‘Panel Discussion’, ‘Exchange activity with Kumon Thai students’ and ‘UNESCO – Special guest appearance’. This year’s event was focused mainly on the participants where guests and visitors, including parents, were mainly observing and listening throughout the event.
Basic event information:
Countries & regions of APN leaders & staff: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Malawi
This year marks the 10th year of APN since it was held in 2007 in Ichigaya, Tokyo Kumon office. As we continue to make progress and try out several new things in all our English related activities, this year’s 10th APN too had several activities that were introduced for the first time.
1. EIC Cafe (OBOG) at Kansai took on new challenges
First of all, this year 10th APN was a special one because it was organized not only by the Global Network Team (GNT) office but with the collaboration and co-operation from the past EIC participants known as EIC Café@KANSAI. The event was injected with lively discussion and active communication for the participants to enjoy the day through some fun-learning activities. Not only the EIC Café @KANSAI members (9 in total) planned and executed the activities, they also challenged themselves by doing the overall MCs throughout the event from the opening, 10:30 till the closing at 17:00.
“I understood what I had to do through preparation in cafe and I was able to make a lot of opinions and suggestions. English was used a lot in the preparation so I think I have gained confidence in using English even though it was not that much” [From one of the newest member of EIC Cafe@Kansai]
There were 4 activities all together carefully planned and carried out by the EIC Café members. Through the process of planning and executing the activities, the EIC Café members were able to learn and grow in various ways. Not only were they calm when sudden changes have to be made from the original plan but also managed to coordinate well among themselves and with GNT staff members.
This time APN was a big challenge for EIC Cafe members, 5 of 9 people participated for the first time. They were interested in EIC Cafe after joining last year’s APN and was involved in the operation of APN this time. Through this experience, each member has gained confidence and further expanded their potential and possibilities. From now on they felt that they have the desire to challenge a bigger stage. All of us at GNT hope that as the EIC Café KANSAI members move on to try and challenge more things, the rest of EIC OBOG will follow their footsteps, or support and learn from each other.
2. Taking English skills into the next level after EIC
Besides the EIC Café KANSAI members, there were other EIC OBOG who took on the challenge of giving a speech in the ‘speech contest’ and in the ‘panel discussion’ as a panelist. These are two new programs conducted in APN.
‘SPEECH CONTEST’ with a different purpose
The ‘Speech Contest’ activity was held for the very first time in APN. It was divided into two categories; for elementary and junior-high school students. It was conducted simultaneously in two different places. There were 5 applicants for elementary school level and 4 for the junior-high school level. Even though the name ‘contest’ was included, contestants were aware that it is not all about how well they can make their speech but how much they have shown improvement and self-reflect throughout the whole process of preparation till the rehearsal and actual event day.
The contestants were assigned with one advisor each who acted as their mentor. The mentors gave advice and encouraged their mentees through skype session. Even though at the end only the best speaker was chosen from each category, it was clear that all the contestants were winners in their own way. Seeing those giving impressive and compelling speeches in regards to topics of Globalization on the actual day of APN was inspirational and motivational not only for the audiences but also for the contestants to strive and challenge for higher goals. It was indeed a valuable experience which has spurred their confidence level to a new height.
“I learned quite a bit. I was happy that the advisor was polite and kindly taught me what I did not understand. Because I got a chance to talk, I was scared of speaking English until now (I ran away), I began to think about challenging a little. Also, all the participants were incredible and it got a good stimulation.” [Comment from one of the speech contestant]
“Although she has participated in the APN several times, but could not participate very actively every time. After the entry and creating the speech including kind advice from the mentor, she was able to practice again and again, and I felt that in the process I was able to see more and more confidence from her. Even at the rehearsal day, from the support she received and enough practices, watching a worried child sleeps well, I felt relief and thought that she has really grown. I think there was a big confidence in her when she did well in front of so many people on the event day. This was what she said “It was really nice to join this time, it was fun so I enjoyed it, so I wanted to challenge again.” Through this speech contest opportunity and took the challenge, besides the finely support, she was able to gain confident. Am glad she joined this APN. Not only we can actively participate in the speech contest but also in other programs and will return home with a sense of accomplishment quite different from the previous APN.” [Comment from a speech contestant’s parent]
We all will be anxiously looking forward to the growth and further development of each individual who took part in this year’s speech contest!
‘PANEL DISCUSSION’ opened up more views
One of the objectives of this year’s APN is to see it as the next step after EIC where participants will be able to engage in more interactive communication and have in depth understanding of the topics or activities discussed in APN. We hope that the participants will be able to broaden their worldview and continue to take own initiative not only after EIC but also after this event. In this regard, by trying out an activity such as ‘Panel Discussion’ would achieve our objective. As in the speech contest, panel discussion activity was divided into two groups; the elementary to junior high school students and the other is university students and above.
Panelist for elementary and junior-high school
It was conducted simultaneously where the panelists shared about their school experiences (domestic and overseas), volunteer involvement, world conference or summit participation, challenges and finally their future goals. What was unique about this panel discussion was that the facilitators and panelists were either camp leaders or children from various past EICs.
It was remarkable to be able to see them grown so much since the last time they participated in EIC 8 or 16 years ago. Even though there was less participation from the audiences in sharing their own experiences too, this activity has created a path for further exposure and challenge into much bigger stage such as international conferences or discussion; as some of them have been involved in events such as ‘World Youth Forum’,
‘One Young World’, ‘International Development Youth Forum’. We are looking forward to many more EIC OBOG active in the world arena.
“I personally had an interest in international activities and things, so I thought it was good to hear various stories abroad at the panel discussion.” [Comments from the audience]
“I have been participating in this APN continuously for many years, but again, every time I meet many people (or meet again), I felt stimulated by everyone’s efforts and results. Especially this year, even though I participated in the panel discussion as one of the panelist, but I was able to listen to what kind of activities my colleagues who discussed and shared about the school and individual, so it was a really good learning experience.” [Comment from one of the panelist for junior-high school group]
3. Exposing to international exchange forum & Networking
International exchange activity with students from Kumon Thailand, Chiangmai – Learning from each other through international networking
One way in getting the participants to have further exposure in an international arena, an exchange activity between Kumon students from Thailand (Chiangmai) and Japan (APN participants) was carried out for the first time through live video conference technology. Both participants were very excited and thrilled by the international connection opportunity to communicate and learned from one another. Both sides had a chance to share individually about their challenges and their goals to one another. From this activity and the feedback received, the Thai students were more outgoing and outspoken which may have sparked the motivation of Japanese audiences to study English even harder. We hope that through this activity, both sides will be inspired and motivated to continue to have a positive and healthy discussion among themselves after this event and also continue to keep this newly established network. When asked this question [“Do you want to join this kind of event again in the future?”] to the Thai students, almost all of them answered “Yes” and they wanted to do more activities with the Japanese participants.
“Thank you very much for giving this opportunity to Thai students. We’ve heard from Khun Aoy that we could achieve the objectives of this student exchange activity. All Thai students were very nice and did try a lot to make effort to communicate in English. The knowledge which was shared by a keynote speaker from UNESCO could broaden Thai students’ perspective that to be able to achieve World Peace in the end they should learn how to think and care about the others, including respecting gender equality, keep thinking about what we can do to help reduce global warming, etc.
Also, both Japanese and Thai students truly enjoyed learning from each other while all Camp Leaders were very energetic to encourage Thai students here. In addition, all the parents liked this activity very much and are looking forward to joining this kind of activity again in the future.
Thank you again for your support to encourage Thai students to overcome the challenges here.”
[Feedback from the Kumon staff in Thailand]
4. Learning from the professional about UNESCO SDG
Finally following the aforementioned activity, we welcomed for the first time in APN a staff from Bangkok UNESCO to give a talk on UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through this activity participants were made aware about SDGs and their meaning. Participants from both Thailand and Japan sides were divided into smaller groups and had a discussion among their group members.
At the end of the discussions both sides exchanged opinions on what they can do to help to achieve the goals. With this newly established international connection and a forum for exchanging ideas, we hope there will be more of such opportunities for both sides to express their thoughts and learn from each other.
“I am delighted that not only learning materials but also learning on a worldwide scale can not be done at school. Children came to think about the environment after finishing EIC camp.” [Comment from one of the parent]
“Actually listening to the UNESCO officer was a chance to broaden one’s horizons to the world. My daughter entered a public junior high school and I saw her fully occupied doing her daily activities everyday. Today at APN it was a really good opportunity to think about what is going on in the world more widely, as a global person.” [From one of the junior high school parent]
Moving on from here …
10th APN marks the beginning of new direction
While APN is used as a platform in giving participants a broader exposure to international stage at the same time we are looking forward to seeing each individual growth after each GNT event especially EIC and continue to develop their understanding about the world. Through these encounters, discussions, talks, connections and networks we also hope we have nurtured and foster sound and capable individuals in the past and continue to do that and support individuals who can take initiative in all aspects positively and contribute to the global society now and in the future.
“I emphatize with so many program undertaken by GNT which always conscious of what’s there in using English. I thought this time the program of UNESCO is also wonderful. Moreover, I think that it is a place where you can experience the meaning where people and people are connected using English and from each camp leaders who were enthusiastically and warmly engaging with each one of the children. I think that there are not many places where you can have such experiences in Japan. From now on I definitely hope that the activities of GNT for children will expand.”