MICROKOZMOS - A Little Change From Here

"Try to find solutions to a global society at your own level from your own neighborhood -- and in your own microcosmos." - Manu Chao

This is where I keep a track of my inspirations to remind myself of the different colors in the world. Just for me to brainstorm and keep writing.

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Posts tagged "Education"

A remarkable speech made by Severn Suzuki at a UN conference in which she addressed the global environment. She has become a well-known environmental activist. 

Severn Cullis Suzuki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severn_Cullis-Suzuki


"Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. - The Environmental Children’s organization.

We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.

I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day - vanishing forever.In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions.I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you!

You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians - but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles - and all of you are somebody’s child.

I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil - borders and governments will never change that.I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter - we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection.”

If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy? I can’t stop thinking that these children are my age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the Favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:

not to fight with others,to work things out,to respect others,to clean up our mess,not to hurt other creaturesto share - not be greedyThen why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for - we are your own children.

You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everything’s going to be alright’, “we’re doing the best we can” and “it’s not the end of the world”.But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say.”

Well, what you do makes me cry at night. you grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you for listening.”

"The New Public" - A film by Jyillian Gunther

An exciting documentary about a new public high school in Brooklyn, New York. The new teachers are uncommon and engaging to inspire students who are to serve the community. 

 In Los Angeles, elementary school art programs may soon disappear altogether. The result is that students are missing out on the opportunity to, in Duncan’s words, "experience the arts in deep and meaningful ways and to make curricular connections with math, science, and the humanities."  

Los Angeles magnet school teacher Robin Wynne-Davis says her third-graders, a “naturally curious bunch,” have become more observant and descriptive since participating in Inner-City Arts. "They’re paying more attention to detail, and their critical thinking and creativity is blossoming," she says. "They’re opening their eyes to the world around them."







An iconic building in Mumbai, India, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, was among the places that were inflicted with the simultaneous terrorist attacks in 2008. During the attack, something remarkable had happened at the hotel : All of the employees remained in the hotel with the guests during the siege - none had left to flee for their lives.

This article tries to explain it by how the employees are recruited and trained with immediate rewarding system to enhance their ethical behaviors.

On recruitment, the hotel employers emphasizes on the character of the candidate, mostly on the level of respect and empathy, rather than the grades in school.

Also, when the employees have done something remarkable, they are immediately complimented and rewarded for the desired behavior - which is psychologically an effective way to encourage their ethical behavior.




エジプト情勢 : フィフィ・重信メイ (Political Situation in Egypt : Fifi, May Shigenobu)

I don’t know which part I should quote out of this discussion…. Quite interesting!

This is a discussion with a group of Japanese people and Fifi (an Egyptian-Japanese popular TV talent/musician) and May Shigenobu (a Palestine-Japanese journalist) about the Arab Spring, media literacy (especially Aljazeera), political consciousness among Japanese youths. - Pretty intense and direct to the point. 

Also, May Shigenobu emphasizes on the relativity of language and media : “A satellite channel like Aljazeera has been widespread because it is broadcasted in Arabic, a common language spoken in 22 Arab nations. On the other hand, Japanese wouldn’t have the same effect - Japanese is spoken only in Japan, so it probably wouldn’t infiltrate in other countries as much. Today English has become more commonly learned in Japan, and more people are aware that it is an powerful tool of communication.” (like in CNN effect)

Fifi says, “Many Japanese young people are steering away from TV and shifting to internet - now on facebook and twitter. Some of those who used to tweet like “I’m in Shibuya now” are finally realizing that, in the other side of the world, internet is used as means to talk about politics, to make a movement in the country, and to communication to connect with the rest of the world. The young people are very flexible and open-minded. They have been stimulated by such observation through internet. With some support by the government, they have much potential to grow.”



北代 色

"My family was poor, so I did not go to school.So I never learned how to write.

Now, I have been taking a literacy class and learned most of kana characters.

I have always asked someone to write my name when I went to see a doctor, but the other day I did it on my own. The nurse called my name, “Kitashiro-san,” so I was very happy.

I never thought the sunset was so beautiful, but now I have come to realize that because I’ve learned how to write. 

When I recognize some letters in the street signs on walking, it makes me happy. 

Now I know the numbers too, so I look forward to going to the Thursdays special at supermarkets.

Also, I learned how to read the numbers of ryokan (hotel) rooms, so I no longer embarrass myself.

I’d like to learn mo and more.

I’d like to live ten more years longer.

February 28th, 1973.

Iro Kitashiro”

(A very first letter written by Ms. Iro Kitashiro at the age of 70, when she finally learned how to read characters in a literacy class. It shows how literacy is such an empowerment in life. With the feeling of hope, she is enlightened and sees more beauty in life - even in usual things like sunset!)  

Some issues to think about regarding having a bi-cultural background and/or internationally educated. These are the stories I often hear and discuss with friends who have lived in more than 2 countries and seen things from outsider’s point of view. 

One of the reasons why fewer students are going abroad, apparently, is because domestic companies do not like hiring them. When they come back, they are too Westernized and cannot be molded into the Japanese young-graduate fix. They have an opinion, think for themselves, come with ideas to improve long-standing practices and, most appallingly, want work-life balance!

Clearly, these are not the kind of people that the domestic Japanese business world is looking for. They want people who conform, execute orders without questioning them and, most importantly, sit in the office until the boss has left. True commitment to the job is working long hours!

That reminds me of a question. Why is it that, in Japan, it is harder to find a job if you are fresh out of college with no previous career experience? In the U.S., it is totally opposite. Fresh graduates often complain, “How do they expect us to have a job experience, when no body is letting us find a first one?” 

The reason? Japanese companies wants young ones with no imprint of previous experience and habit of questioning. American companies want to hire ones with skills that needs no training. A big difference.

If Japanese schools are such a great option, why do kids need to cram?

Agreed. Some people believe Japanese schools are the best, but I doubt it. How can the people taught not to argue or critically question teach their students to do otherwise? Cramming seems what all Japanese children do nowadays, but think how uncompetitive they are in the world! Japanese universities don’t even count as the world’s top 10, sadly!

Also, life for most of the “halfs” (ridiculous name, by the way) isn’t easy. Japanese still regards them as gaijin. If you live in a small town, having a Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend as a “half” is almost mission impossible. I have met a lot of halfs that have decided to be Japanese, and most of them complain about discrimination, difficulties in finding work (not all of them become celebrities), relationships, marriages. My question is, why should they choose to stay here and be discriminated against and lose their second citizenship?

Canada Thrills Uganda With Little League Tour
The dream of a young Ugandan team to become the first African squad to play in the Little League World Series was dashed when their entry visas to the US were denied due to improper documents. In response, the Canadian national team, which was scheduled to play against the Ugandans in the first round, raised money and flew to Africa on a goodwill tour. During their visit, the Canadians have donated equipment, held training sessions and helped turn wasteland into baseball diamonds. Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb reports from Mpigi in Uganda.
Wow this is great! I love this kind of youth cultural exchange experiences. These young boys from both Ugandan and Canadian teams not only get to play with a foreign national team but also learn some important assets to think of such problem in the society. Not many of us have had such experience when we were at their age, so good for them!



"Sesame Square" is a Nigerian take on “Sesame Street,” which retains the spirit of the original program in inspiring children in many countries by addressing the critical developmental issues, such as AIDS and Malaria in the case of Nigeria.

Sesame Street is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. President Barack Obama’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 

Although only 1/4 households in Nigeria are said to own TV, which limits the reach of the educational program, Sesame Workshop has been developing educational materials in order to reach for more diverse groups of children.


("Whiteness Studies," an interdisciplinary course that has been taught at some colleges and universities in USA now) argues that white privilege still exists, thanks largely to structural and institutional racism, and that the playing field isn’t level, and whites benefit from it. 

In the past, detractors have said the field itself demonizes people who identify as white.

Other academics who study what they see as America’s racial hierarchy say they struggle to teach that racial inequality remains a problem, and that it must be addressed. 

“For many people, it’s hard to raise these questions, because it’s like ancient history. But Obama did not run on a racial justice platform. Had he, he would not have been elected.”


As President Obama is about to announce the first 10 states that have qualified for exemption from basic elements of No Child Left Behind education law, the concerns still remain for those ”advocates for minority and special education students” who are concerned that such students will be ignored.

学力が学年相当より低くても進学させなくてはいけない、というのがNo Child Left Behindという法律。(日本語では「落ちこぼれゼロ法」?)ブッシュ政権の時に制定され、それから何年も物議をかもしだしていた。だって、それってつまり移民の子供達とか、英語が理解できない事が理由で授業に付いていけないのにそれでも無理矢理進級させられて、どんどん遅れを取っていくんではないかという心配があったから。

確かに、実際、教員が超不足しているからそれぞれに個別指導をするのはとても困難。そういう子供達は「Title I」と呼ばれて政府から助成金を受け、補習講座などでTAやチューターの指導を受けて学力向上を目指す形になる。でも、それで大きな改善が見られるのはラッキーなケース。皆が皆、学力向上に最適な条件で補習を受けれるわけでない。



例えば私が指導していた、幼稚園レベルの英語力の4年生、4年生レベルの中学校2年生も、No Child Left Behindがあったからこそ同年齢の他の生徒と机を並べる事が出来た。そこで周囲に追いつきたいという気持ちが学習意欲に繋がっていたとも思う。だから、どうなるんだろう、この法律。どう影響を与えて行くのか本当に気になる。


“I define multicultural education as an anti-racist education that is firmly related to student learning and permeates all areas of schooling. It is a hopeful way to confront the widespread and entrenched inequality in U.S. schools because its premise is that students of all backgrounds and…

Sand Mining to Pay For School in Uganda

Children in Uganda mine sand from the bed of the River Nile to earn enough for school books. They do get free primary education, but overwhelming poverty means they can not always afford the extras. Many of them continue to work to help their families and to get an education. Al Jazeera’s as Malcolm Webb reports from Uganda.



“It’s Okay to be Neither,” By Melissa Bollow Tempel

Alie arrived at our 1st-grade classroom wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. I asked her to take off her hood, and she refused. I thought she was just being difficult and ignored it. After breakfast we got in line for art, and I noticed that she still had not removed her hood. When we arrived at the art room, I said: “Allie, I’m not playing. It’s time for art. The rule is no hoods or hats in school.”

She looked up with tears in her eyes and I realized there was something wrong. Her classmates went into the art room and we moved to the art storage area so her classmates wouldn’t hear our conversation. I softened my tone and asked her if she’d like to tell me what was wrong.

“My ponytail,” she cried.

“Can I see?” I asked.

She nodded and pulled down her hood. Allie’s braids had come undone overnight and there hadn’t been time to redo them in the morning, so they had to be put back in a ponytail. It was high up on the back of her head like those of many girls in our class, but I could see that to Allie it just felt wrong. With Allie’s permission, I took the elastic out and re-braided her hair so it could hang down.

“How’s that?” I asked.

She smiled. “Good,” she said and skipped off to join her friends in art.

‘Why Do You Look Like a Boy?’

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This story is so inspiring! This man, Mr Fred Swaniker,  created the African Leadership Academy (ALA), because he believes that education is the best way to make a change in social injustice. His program prepares the young students, age 15-19,  in leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. 

Also, this is an empowering story because he basically financed himself all through the establishment of this academy by talking about his passion to people and building a strong network to support him. It is the power of believing in the right thing and the passion to make a difference for the better future.

Even the academy’s tuition is fair and inclusive: 85% of students come from under-previledged background and given “forgivable loans” - full scholarship with a condition to repay if not working in Africa by age 25. 

His academy has students from 48 different countries all over Africa. After graduating, they step up to higher education in foreign countries but comes back to Africa to help to change it for the better. 

"What drives me is the passion to make a difference. The return that I get from the African Leadership Academy is the impact that I see on these young leaders that we are developing and what they are going to do for Africa. And that gives me much more satisfaction than any money I could have." 

As much as he inspires the students, he takes inspirations from them as well. And this attitude is what inspires many more - not only his students but also all his supporters in networks and new followers like me.