The Ship for World Youth Post-Program Activities Promotion Programs

(19th to 27th of February, 2007)

 

Sayoko Tanaka

Organizational Management Division Chief of International Youth Exchange Organization of Japan (IYEO)

 

@    Three representatives of the International Youth Exchange Organization of Japan (IYEO), Mr. Minoru Yaguchi (Public Relations Division Chief), Ms. Miyuki Ise (Vice President IYEOMiyagi), and myself, were sent to join the 19th Ship for World Youth program from February 19th to 27th, 2007 to conduct the Post-Program Activities Promotion Programs.  Specifically, our missions were:

·        To show to the Participating Youths of the SWY19 (hereafter referred as PYs) examples of concrete activities they could take part in after the program, and to inform them of the importance of utilizing our worldwide network and possibility of various activities that can be conducted using such a network.

·        To provide information, opinions and advice for PYs, as the representatives of the IYEO upon which our post-program activities are based; to explain how we initially attempted to broaden our range of activities when we were PYs and how we actually put into practice our ideas for post-program activities.

·        To inform the PYs what kinds of activities can be done after the program and how crucial our network can be, before the program comes to its end; to assist PYs to spend the last ten days on the ship more meaningful, including facilitating an easier implementation of the post-program activities the PYs have planned while on board.

@For the Japanese PYs, the following point was additionally made:

·           To explain the IYEO, which is the Alumni Association of ex-JPYs, and encourage them to explore what they could do or would like to achieve as members of the organization; to explain how the ex-PYs have been able to build networks across regions and batches, how they actually utilize the network in conducting activities, etc.; to inform about how to best utilize the networks across batches, or even with ex-PYs of the other international youth exchange programs implemented by the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan in developing and implementing activities.

 

Post Program Activities Session: Day 1 (Thursday, 22nd of February)

Prior to the first Post-Program Activities Session, the PYs had already interacted with ex-PYs who offered their support for port of call activities in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, the PYs already had a general idea of what the Ship for World Youth Alumni Associations (SWYAA) were like, and were eager to welcome us.  Our program was received with such eagerness, a clear sign of interest on the part of the PYs.

We started the program by introducing the official video of the Ship for World Youth (SWY) program, which will be used in promoting the program to the general public. In the workshop 1, under the theme of gLooking Back at Your Past,h we grouped the PYs in pairs and asked them to write down and share with their partner why they joined the program and what were two international exchange experiences that influenced their SWY participation.  This was effective not only in making them remember their previous international exchange experience but also in building an easy communication with their fellow PYs and in making them ponder which direction they wish to go in the future.  We arranged them in such a way that the more laid back PYs are paired together and they appreciated it as an opportunity to make new friends.

Thereafter, we used a slide show (PowerPoint) to present the various international youth exchange programs implemented by the Cabinet Office of Japan, other than the SWY program.  We also showed the triangular relationship among the Cabinet Office, the Japanese Government, the Center for International Youth Exchange (CENTERYE), and the IYEO, the history of the SWY program, the initiatives taken by respective SWYAAs, and others.  Because we included some quizzes related to the SWYAA, we were successful in catching PYsf attentions.  More PYs than we had expected were prepared, probably they studied the materials or learned about their own AAs in advance so there was a high percentage of correct answers.

 

Post-Program Activities Session: Day 2 (Sunday, 25th of February)

The second Post-Program Activities Session opened with an introduction of 26 ex-PYs including three representatives of the IYEO onboard the ship. The program started in a relaxed atmosphere, thanks to the energetic performance of the ex-PY national leaders and advisors. In the workshop 2, we focused on deepening the PYsf understanding and the ideas they raised on Day 1.  We played an interview game using the two questions that were given to them in advance.

Question 1:  On which project/event/activity did you mostly focus on during the SWY19?

Question 2:  Based on your answer on Q1, what related activity do you think you can do after the program?

In the game the PYs were asked to pair with someone other than their partner on Day 1, and to switch roles between (i.e. interviewer and interviewee).  The interviewers were allowed to ask questions other than the prepared ones to deepen the discussion and they took notes during the interviews so they could keep track of their ideas. The conversations between the PYs went smoothly, perhaps because they found the first question easy to answer. After the interviews by pair, we asked three pairs to form one group, so each pair could report to the other pairs what they talked.

 After the interview game, the ex-PYs gave their presentations.  The presenters were Ms. Polyxeni Koutentaki, Advisor for Intercultural Understanding Course and an ex-PY of the SWY10 from Greece; Mr. John Rucynski Jr., Advisor for Education Course and an ex-PY of the SWY14 from USA; Mr. Jose Sano Takahashi, Facilitator for the Information & Media Course, ex-PY of the SWY11 and National Leader of Peru for the SWY16; and, Ms. Miyuki Ise, Vice President of IYEO Miyagi and ex-PY of the SWY13.

Ms. Koutentaki introduced the collaborative social contribution project between SWYAA Greece and SWYAA Sri Lanka entitled gOne More Child Goes to Schoo.lh  The project was initiated by SWYAA Sri Lanka with the purpose of providing school supplies and tuition fee support to as many children as possible. Ms. Koutentaki learned of this project by email, agreed to the idea, and contacted her NGO, ANCE, for the possibility of sponsoring the project.  The sense of fellowship and trust she had in the SWY alumni allowed her to communicate merely by e-mail with someone she had never met, and she explained with passion this is actually how the project developed. The project is still ongoing, and it made an impact to the SWY19 PYs.

Mr. Rucynski Jr. shared his experience of teaching English in Japan, and stressed the importance of learning the cultures that underlie the languages.  He also informed that he still keeps in touch with Japanese friends after five years, and that he is involved in many volunteer activities based on his SWY experience.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jose Sano Takahashi presented his involvements in the SWY program, first as a PY in 1999, then as National Leader and facilitator.  He also introduced the activities of SWYAA Peru and its partnership with Nikkei communities.

Ms. Ise introduced her organization, the IYEO Miyagi, which often hosts local programs not only for the SWY program but also for the other international youth exchange programs.  She touched on how to organize and launch planning committees, the challenges and difficulties along the way, and how to keep local youths and members motivated.

 At the end of the program, we divided the PYs by country for a sort of delegation meeting.  We asked them to fill up the questionnaire on Alumni Association which we prepared.  We also requested each delegation to appoint a batch representative for the SWY19, and to discuss what activities can be done after the program.  This provided the PYs an opportunity to talk specifically about post-program activities with their fellow delegates onboard.

Apart from the two official programs, we also launched onboard the SWY Café (informal opinion-exchange meetings) during the free time.  The topics varied from questions and feedbacks on the official programs, the current Course Discussion themes, and concrete post-program activities, among others.  The PYsf eagerness to initiate post-program activities and willingness to implement them were very strong.  The PYs commented that the cozy atmosphere to discuss matters with a few friends allowed them to talk freely, unlike in a large group.

Furthermore, we prepared and set up the SWYAA Bulletin Board.  To get the interest of the PYs, we displayed items that included reports on the SWY19 program in Japan, reports from individual SWY Alumni Associations or from the Tokyo Conference of the Ex-Participants of the SWY Program, and materials related to social contribution projects by the AAs.  Since the Bulletin Board was set near the Dining Hall entrance, PYs could stop by the board and browse on the materials on their way to meals.

The gFuture Posth project was also introduced, in continuation of what was started last year. The project aims to encourage PYs to write letters to their friends, relatives or themselves one year later as a way to look back or reconnect with friends or relatives.

I believe that the aims and objectives of the Post-Program Activities Promotion Programs were almost fully achieved.  This is based on the PYsf reactions when I met and talked with them again on the 8th of March, at the last day of the SWY19 program, and from e-mail exchanges after the program.  Through these activities, I feel that the PYs learned to appreciate our international network and are willing to broaden the areas of their post-program activities.  However, the most crucial proof is yet to come, where the experiences from the SWY program will develop into practical and sustainable projects.