Initiative to Feel Closer to Africa and South America in Japan

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“Is it possible to feel closer to countries in Africa and Latin America while being in Japan?”

In order to answer this question, the special spring event “Let’s feel the world closer with the five senses” was held in Japan on the last week of our temporary return from Africa. It was the first time event sponsored by the global learning center “3L-Miel”. The first day was the Mozambique and the second day was the Chile. Despite the last-minute announcement, thanks to the support of many people, the both events were full, and promoted learning experience for both participants and organizers.

📺⬇️Here is a 2-minute introductory video about Global Learning Center “3L-Miel” ⬇️📺

Planning and preparation

When our family return to Japan in the summer of 2024, we intend to start 3L-Miel activities, and the idea for this event before that time was born as we wanted to experiment with some of the activities while looking for a base.

The venue was the first floor of a former dressmaking school in Sumiyoshi, Kobe (the second floor was a residence with a kitchen, where we stay during our temporary return to Japan). In order to revitalize the space that had been used as a storage for over 10 years, we intensively worked to clean and organized around the clock for 2 weeks. Once we had prospect to create a world representing space to invite people, we started announcing the event (10 days before the events). It was the last minutes notice especially in Japan, where everything tends to be prepared well in advance.

We put up flyers at local restaurants, vegetable shops, dentists, bulletin boards in town, etc., and thanks to the help of various people through social media and word of mouth, both days were full (people of all ages and genders)! Even after closing, we received many applications, and due to space constraints, we politely rejected them with the note of prioritization to the next events.

For the Mozambique edition, we contacted the representative of Mozambican embassy in Japan and received informal support to send local people. For the Chilean version, we received help from the owner of one of Japan’s two Chilean restaurants, as well as Chilean locals in Japan.

We have tried to deliver world cuisine to people with dietary restrictions such as vegetarians, but we faced some regional issues such as lack of ingredients and high prices.

We also wanted to contribute to reducing food waste, so we posted a message on the wall that read, “Please help us reduce food waste by having a buffet style where we provide enough food but only take what you can eat.”

Implementation

We didn’t have enough time to prepare, but we were able to make it through thanks to the help of volunteers for prep/serving/cleaning and our daughter’s grandfather as a babysitter.

The following was the general content of the program:

  1. Ice-breaking (world map game, music game, relationship building between facilitator-participants and among participants)
  2. Pre-test (the degree to which they know and feel close to the world and the country)
  3. Introduction to the Global Learning Centre 3L – Miel
  4. Country introduction and hands-on activities (touch and smell local food ingredients, experience part of meal preparation)
  5. Introduction to food from around the world
  6. Introducing the country’s circumstances, stories, videos and performances (music/dance), and briefly practicing them.
  7. Q&A
  8. Post-test (same as pre-test)

🇲🇿Photos_Mozambique day 🇲🇿
(photo credit © 3L © 28 ©たま子岸田)

Interaction between facilitator and participants

Interaction among participants

Cheers to Mozambican drinks in Portuguese “Saude!” 

Local cuisine from Mozambique

Local people in Japan also attended

———-🇨🇱Photos_Chile day 🇨🇱———-
(credit © 3L © 井爪麻樹)

Interaction among participants

Experience of local food preparation

Local cuisine from Chile

Buffet with the note of “please serve the amount you can eat” to contribute to No Food Waste

World Picture Book Library

We have also set up a world picture book library. About two years ago, we started collecting picture books from all over the world. Even if we don’t understand the language, illustration will show some stories, which might lead to a unique opportunity to open the door to a new world!!

With the help of friends, we have collected about 80 books in 30 languages, and we will keep looking for more.

(We are always accepting donations of picture books from around the world in other languages or about different cultures around the world🙏).

world picture book library

World Products

The souvenirs and magnets collected from around the world. There is also a 3L knitted keyholder.

Learning of the participants

According to pre- and post-interviews conducted in real time with approximately 40 participants in the 2 day events, the average score of those who answered “I feel close to that country” rose significantly throughout the event (on a scale of 1-5, from 1.7 to 4.2 for Mozambique and from 1.7 to 3.5 for Chile), as shown in the below.

In addition, according to a post-event survey, 100% of the participants answered that they had learned something from the event.

Some of the specific comments from the survey are as follows:

🌍I was able to learn about the country with my 5 senses, not with theory / logic.

🌍I became interested in the country, its culture, and its language. I want to go.

🌍Participation of local people made the learning even deeper.

🌍It was hands-on, and I learned a lot about the flow of events and learning, and the participants were very excited.

🌍I’m glad I was able to connect with the participants.

🌍I want to make a lot of friends by learning other languages.

🌍It made me think about diversity.

🌍I liked that it was not just a food event, but aimed at making it fun and connected to learning.

🌍Efforts have been made to reduce food waste, which also contributes to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

🌍This event was held on a grassroots basis with a small number of people, but it was very meaningful as a place to learn about different cultures and importance of having fun, and think about how mutual understanding is a step toward “peace.”

Although the events were just 2.5h long for each day, it was possible for participants to feel closer to countries of Africa and South America through the five senses and promote learning.

Learning of the organizer

For organizer side, there were also lessons learned from the implementation and points for improvement based on feedback from participants, which include below:

🌍

🌍We could reduce the number of participants to allow for a variety of activities.

🌍There was one sudden cancellation, but we were didn’t take measurement to avoid that risk.

🌍No matter which country to choose to feature, bringing local people will deepen the learning like this time.

🌍The world picture book library could attract school librarians as well as serve for library training.

🌍The space may have been a little small considering the number of participants, so I think it would be a good idea to rent a space and expand the event on a large scale.

🌍I’d like to see more people speaking the local language, even just a toast, greeting or small game.

🌍There was a diversity in participants, so it would be even better if there was more interaction between them.

🌍I couldn’t take notes because it was difficult to see the text on the screen from behind.

🌍There was also an impression of being busy and focusing on taste. Various activities were connected to the five senses, so it would be a good idea to verbalize things a little more so that people can be more aware of those.

🌍I also want to learn more about education in specialized fields.

🌍Flyers can be just one instead of two. The announcement could be done earlier.

🌍Create a balance between the amount of food you eat and your activities (this will also be included in the questions in the post-survey).

🌍If we increase the number of interactive activities, we will need more time.

🌍Incorporating instruments, games, plays, etc. from around the world is also an option.

🌍There was a lack of explanation and stories about product sales.

🌍Involving the embassy and local people can add value and to access to local ingredients.

🌍Volunteers and collaborators are essential for future expansion.

Summary of Learning

Although we were not sure whether to conduct them or not, there was a lot of learning from these 3L pre-events. This finding reaffirmed that the best way to learn is to try something. We would like to take advantage of these learnings for continuous improvement.

Please support us in this long journey to promote diversity and holistic learning by seeing the world then ourselves. We will start small for the big goal.

Thank you for reading this article. Have a great learning!

MD

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