This is my first blog entry on CUBE. Just like you, I’m new to this site. And I’m excited about all the new stuff that is happening. And I can’t wait for all the changes next year.
The long hot summer is behind us now. One boiling hot day I remember going with Brent (Prof. Brent Jones) to visit the CUBE building-site. It was incredible to go up to the 9th floor, in a lift outside the building, wearing safety helmets, and look all around Nishinomiya from the top of our big building. Up high, it still didn’t have any glass in its windows at that time. There was a breeze on the 9th floor of the building that cooled you off a bit, but as you came down towards street level it got hotter and hotter. It also got more interesting, because a lot of the building was already painted and finished on the ground floor, and yes, there was already glass in the windows. I think we’re all going to love the views, and the layout and concept of the building will amaze a lot of people. I’m sure it will be a really good place to be and to belong to and have a real c ommunity feeling
Did you read Brent’s blog entry about volunteering in the Philippines? Well, I’m also active as a volunteer for Teachers Helping Teachers, and we went on a trip to Vietnam in June to help with development through education. The destination was a city called Hue, which some of you may have heard of: it has beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for example.
Teachers from all over Vietnam came to attend our weekend seminar. Many of them had very long and uncomfortable journeys from small rural villages without basic facilities. Unlike Japan, many of their students in schools do not have enough books, do not have TV, and have never used a computer, and have probably never met a native-speaking teacher of English. When some of the teachers learnt that I was from England, they tried to imitate my accent!
Here are a couple of pictures of me in a workshop with some of the participants. This room was in the university in Hue, so the facilities were good. But it was extremely hot so we were all suffering in there!
One thing we try to do in countries like Vietnam is to take the seminar or conference to the people, but not to ask for anything in return. The participants attend in their own country, and they do not have to buy books or anything like that. We use our own computers, and make our own copies before we leave Japan. Most of the teachers who went to Hue gave books to the library, and our group collected money and gave it as a scholarship for some students to study at the university.
The experience of leading workshops and talking to others who are interested in education is more than enough reward for going there, and all of us were touched by the people of Vietnam who we met. Of course, we would like to do much more, and I think there are many other projects in business as well as education that CUBE students might find valuable in the future. What we have found is that without international languages like English, it is hard for people in places like Hue to develop their economies and improve their standard of living, health care and overall quality of life. It is nice to dream that perhaps one day development can take place from the modest efforts of a group of volunteers!