The 20th Ship for World Youth Post-Program Activities Promotion Programs

 

Sayoko Tanaka

Organizational Management Division Chief

International Youth Exchange Organization of Japan (IYEO)

 

            Three representatives of the International Youth Exchange Organization of Japan (IYEO), Yuka Teranishi (Vice-President of Shiga IYEO), Atsushi Tokuno (staff of Tokyo Conference for the ex-Participating Youth of the Ship for World Youth), and I were sent to join the 20th Ship for World Youth Program from February 20th to 27th, 2008 to conduct the Post-Program Activities Promotion Programs.

            The session was implemented with the following goals in mind:

  • To have the participating youth of the SWY20 deepen their understanding of the international youth exchange and the IYEO programs operated by the SWY Alumni Association (SWYAA) and Cabinet Office;
  • To present examples of domestic and international post-program activities and activism, so that participants will also engage in various endeavors that contribute to society, through the SWYAA after they disembark.
  • To communicate the importance of developing activism that best utilizes and links various networks, such as the SWYAA and organizations to which the participants already belong (e.g., NPOs, etc.)
  • During the final stages of the program, to exchange ideas with the participating youth as IYEO representatives, to hear the opinions of as many participants as possible, and to get suggestions regarding ideas that can be realized in the final ten days of the program, the conclusion of the program etc.


Post-Program Activities Session:  Day 1

(Saturday, February 23rd, 2008)


            The first Post-Program Activities session was held immediately after departing from the port-of-call in India.  With the port-of-call activities completed and with approximately ten days remaining in the program, it served as the first step in getting each and every participant to reflect on the program.  In recent years, alumni in each country refer to post-program activities during the pre-departure training and participating youth can see for themselves the cooperation of alumni at port-of-call activities, such as in Oman or India.  Thus, there are a greater proportion of people who express an understanding or interest in post-program activities.  Consequently, the participating youth were assertive and took initiative, creating a positive atmosphere for the session.

            For the session, unlike the usual Letter Groups (14 in total), participants were divided into twenty new groups.  This allowed people to engage with participants that they may have had little to no interaction with.  Thus, they were able to experience, think about and understand the post-program activities network directly. 

The session began with an ice breaker.  Because it was a competition between groups, the activity served as a team-building exercise as well since the group had to peruse the distributed material or post-program activities report and work together as a team.  It proved to be very animated.  As the same time, it also gave us the impression that there were a number of participating youth who already had considerable knowledge of post-program activities, more than we had expected.

            Next, we gave a PowerPoint presentation on the details of the various international youth exchange programs that are managed by the SWYAA and the Cabinet Office, along with the specific examples from SWYAA in various countries around the world, focusing mainly on social contribution.  During the presentation, we briefly introduced the alumni who were on board as advisors, national leaders and administrative staff.  Thus, the participants became aware of the different ways in which ex-participants were contributing to the program.

            Workshops followed the presentation.  This was intended to facilitate clarification of activities after the program by encouraging participants to learn about themselves and their friends, think about their life after the program, and to articulate practical steps regarding what they wished to do.  After independently responding to the four questions on the worksheet, they shared their responses.

Questions 

1. The motivation behind participating in the program (Reason for applying) 
2. Before you boarded, your thoughts regarding what you wished to achieve while  on board

3. Since boarding the ship, what activity left the strongest impression on you?  (successes, failures, etc.)
4. What would you like to do/achieve after the program?

The second worksheet was then distributed.  The intention was to allow participants to probe the details of their response to question (4) above, and in doing so to recognize to what extent onefs ideas were feasible and could be realized.  Also, the participating youth responded to another set of four questions listed in Worksheet 2.  They later shared their thoughts and exchanged their ideas with others in groups of six or seven.


Question
1. At the moment, what percentage of what you hope to achieve has already been completed?  What are the specific elements that have already been achieved?
2. To achieve your goals, what else remains to be realized? 
3. When would you like to complete your plans by? 
4. In order to reach your goals, what initial step can you take right now, before disembarking?



Post-Program Activities Session:  Day 2

(Saturday, February 25th, 2008)

            The second Post-Program Activities session began with presentations by three ex-participating youths, in order for the SWY 20 participants to clarify their own plans and goals.

Presenters
Yuka Teranishi, Vice-President, Shiga International Youth Exchange Organization (Shiga IYEO).
Yuka shared various concrete examples, such as receiving the Cabinet Officefs International Youth Exchange Programs that operates out of Shiga IYEO, study tours, multicultural festivals, guest talks at elementary schools, or Japanese language classes.  In doing so, she communicated the importance of not only acting globally, but also the significance of focusing locally and being committed to local endeavors.


Nadia Almeraisi, the National Leader from Bahrain

Nadia represented a particularly active alumni association.  Bahrain's post-program activity record is exemplary, despite the fact that it has only been ten years since Bahrain began participating in the program and is therefore a relatively new association.   Nadia talked about the solidarity and activism of their association, and communicated that cooperation is possible between participating youth and alumni, both prior to and after the program.  In doing so, she served to inspire a number of countries.  She also demonstrated to all of the participating youth, the importance of not only engaging in activities that contribute to society, but also nurturing connections with the Japanese Embassy or various Japan related organizations.

Uesile Wesley Talaimanu, the National Leader from New Zealand

Uesile presented on the support that the New Zealand Alumni Association provides to the port-of-call activities for the Ship for World Youth program and on other activities that contribute to society.  In addition, in recent years, the association has taken feedback from alumni in order to strengthen their organization.  In doing so, Uesile shared examples of activism as well strategies for expanding their association.

After the three presentations, batch representatives for each country were introduced.  This was followed by presentations of the discussion outcomes of delegation meetings that were held the previous day, specifically the short-term and long-term goals that were identified in order to achieve the action plan that each delegation hoped to implement.  It was explained to the participants that by naming a batch representative that was not their national leader, the network within each batch is strengthened and each batch representative stands as a leader in sustaining lateral connections between each country.

            Following the presentations by each country, regional meetings and presentations were held.  The overseas participants were divided into five regions:  Africa, US and South America, Europe, Middle East, and Oceania.  This was the first time that regional meetings had been held as a formal part of the post-program activities session.  It served as a chance for newly developing associations to solicit advice from those organizations that were already well established and active in their community, and for connecting with and making plans for joint ventures with nearby countries.  The meeting proved to be a lively exchange of ideas directed towards praxis.  The Japanese participating youth also divided into the eight IYEO regions.  The various regions differed in their numbers, but the youths earnestly discussed events and projects that would highlight the characteristics of their respective areas.  During the course of these discussions, the three staff members who were responsible for the Post-Program Activity Promotion programs provided practical examples of activism both in Japan and in various countries around the world.  The participating youth took these examples into consideration in trying to come up with their own projects.  After these meetings, the overseas and Japanese participatomg youth together outlined and presented their short-term and long-term goals.  In doing so, they were able to organize what items could be achieved immediately and identify steps that need to be taken to accomplish aims that require more time.

            In addition to the formal post-program activities session, a number of other voluntary activities were also organized, aside from the time allotted for delegation meetings that were held on the 24th to discuss post-program activities.

            At the delegation meetings, the overseas participating youth were given pre departure training and post-program reports for each country, and a survey about connections with the Japanese embassy.  In addition to having each country respond to and submit this survey, the participants discussed what activities they would like to engage in after the program, the outcomes of which were shared during the Post-Program Activities session 2 on the 25th. 

            Furthermore, a batch representatives meeting was held on the evening of the 24th.  This gathering served as a way for each countryfs batch leaders to meet, to strengthen ties within onefs country, and also build a network that spanned national borders.  The importance of sustaining, with the assistance of National Leaders, the solidarity between members of their respective alumni associations and the continuity of batch networks was explained.


Other new and on-going activities include the following:


SWY Café
(informal opinion-exchange meeting)

This served as a chance to discuss items that could not be shared in detail during the Post-Program Activities session, to exchange ideas with small groups of participating youth, and to answer questions.


SWY AA Bulletin Board

This Bulletin Board displayed the Report of the 20th Ship for World Youth Japan program, the Annual Report prepared by each countryfs alumni association, the Report from the Tokyo Conference for the Ex-Participant Youth of the Ship for World Youth, and materials related to various social work organized by each countryfs alumni association.  It was intended as a way to promote understanding among the participants.  In part because the Board was displayed in front of the Dining Hall on the second floor, numerous participants were seen looking at the board, before or after their meal and, intently looking at the material displayed. Material that was free to take, such as Country Reports, was all gone by the end of our time on board.  It suggested to us that the participants had a heightened understanding and interest about post-program activities.


Future Post Project

            This project, which began with the 13th Ship for World Youth program and has continued since, involves sending yourself, a friend or acquaintance a letter that arrives one year later.  Writing a letter that captures onefs frame of mind while on board, or the self that one imagines in the future, not only allows individuals to reflect on what they are feeling in that moment, but also makes it possible for individuals to see how much this state of being has changed in a year, upon receiving the letter.  Another aim of this project is to maintain interaction between friends and acquaintances. 


            This particular assignment required sharing considerable information with participants in a limited period of time.  By increasing the time spent in preparing for the program, the session was implemented smoothly.  While on board, we received the cooperation and support of ex-PY Administrative staff and the rest of the Administrative staff, allowing for the Post-Program Activities session to be easily integrated into the on-board activities program.  Thus, we were able to provide a session that was linked to the Participation of Youth in Society (Towards Social Contribution) Course Discussion theme.  We heard a number of participants say that through the session, they were able to see how their participation in the 20th Ship for World Youth program was but a starting point, and how important it is for them to utilize this network that spanned the globe and to take on new challenges.  Based on this feedback, we believe that in subsequent years, the Post-Program Activities session should be held immediately after the end of the port-of-call activities, when the end of the program is approaching, in order to facilitate participants shifting gears and looking towards post-program activities.

            The form that the plans presented by participants will take, and whether the youths will, in cooperation with other ex-PYs, develop and energize the alumni associations in various countries, depend solely on individual will and commitment.  The Post-Program Activities Promotion programs are not limited to raising awareness among the participating youth of post-program activities.  More importantly, the participants will come to understand the value of the network that they themselves helped to create, will realize various activities and frequently share this with one another.

            Lastly, in order for the Japanese International Youth Exchange Organization of Japan, which includes the SWYAA, to continue to develop as an organization whose strength is its networks, it is important that executive members and other people central to such associations examine the different characteristics and needs of various regions, share ideas with new and existing members, and engage in activities together, be they local or global.