Designing the Future
World School Network held its annual International Symposium at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, Japan, where approximately 230 participants (including 85 elementary through high school students) attended. Participants joined from all over Japan and from as far as Alaska (12) and Israel (9).
During Part 1 of the symposium 4 groups from Japan and Israel made presentations on 2002 WSN activities. Tokyo Kokusai High School presented (in English) the effects of hormone use in meat production to humans. Yamashiro Junior High School introduced their search for local traditional foods and the results of a low energy contest using pictures and graphs. Students from Israel presented that approximately 5 square meters of rainforest disappears to make one hamburger and about pressing water scarcity issues. Momoyama Junior High School shared their interaction with groups from America and Israel in an impressive presentation about slow food. Hard work and the effectiveness of activity introductions were evident in each groups' elaborately prepared presentations.
Tying off the morning session was Russian Mission School's (Russian Mission, Alaska) performance of their traditional dance. Dressed in animal furs and traditional garment, students danced to unique drum rhythm and chant. Each of the dances represents a story of nature and people. Some children in the audience could be seen dancing along to the rhythm as well.
Kicking of Part 2 of the symposium was Russian Mission's presentation introducing life in their village, their self-subsistence camp, and the effects of borderless pollution. Following the presentation, each participant group presented the pride as well as troubles of their communities. Students' troubles included trash, environmental destruction, reduced consumption of rice (in Japan), problems with groups' own activities, and following discussion focused on thinking about solutions for changing the awareness of adults. "We should give coupons to adults if they collect trash," "Kids should give adults speeches," "Take the problem directly to city hall," and many other unique suggestions were shared amongst students. Once discussion concluded, students divided into groups for a joint problem solving session.
Part 3 of the symposium was an adult participatory panel discussion. Participants listened attentively as panelists shared ideas based on their experiences about the importance of the individual in a network society, maintaining critical perspective, and carrying out education that gives kids a sense that they are living.
Concluding the symposium was a session to present student summaries of work from their joint problem solving session. Using picture stories, skits and various other methods to give appeal to their ideas, students proposed ways to solve trash and river problems and a future world in which they wish to live.
The nervousness of students during the symposium disappeared when all children joined in in Russian Mission's dance at the post-symposium reception. It seems that students deepened their bonds together beyond region and national borders.
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