On March 10th 2013 41 speakers of Japanese gave up their Sunday to come to the Japan Foundation London and help translate newspaper articles from the Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun; a newspaper created by the children that reports the current activities in their city. Ishinomaki is a city in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, and is one of the areas that suffered severe damage due to the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The children created their newspaper one year after the disaster, and now, on the second anniversary since the tsunami, the children aim to tell Ishinomaki’s story to people all over the world.
The event began with a screening of DVD “Ishinomaki to shinsai” (about the quake-hit Ishinomaki) and an explanation about the project by Hiroyuki Takeuchi, Executive Administrator of Ishinomaki Hibi Shinbun and director of Ishinomaki NEWSée, via video conferencing software. This was followed with an introduction about the newspaper by two of the young journalists, Takuto Chiba (2nd Year at Higashi Matsushima High School) and Momoka Saito (3rd Year at Hebita Junior High School). Takuto and Momoka were fantastic speakers and overcame their nerves to speak and ask questions to participants on the other side of the world.
Lastly, the volunteer translators broke into groups and translated several articles from Japanese into English. If you would like to find out more about the Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun,you can visit their website here (in Japanese). We hope to publish English versions of the articles soon.
Almost all the participants mentioned that they really enjoyed interacting with the organisers and with the children themselves. One participant, Judith Reynolds mentioned that “the Skype link-up with Ishinomaki was fantastic; it gives a real personal link and is great motivation!” At the end of the event, the Japan foundation collected some messages for the children of Ishinomaki. Here is a selection of these messages:
- “I am so impressed with your newspaper project! It was a pleasure talking with you and helping you to convey your articles to speakers of English. Keep working hard and maintain your positive attitude. Good luck!” - Kevin Squibb
- “Thank you for this chance to work together. I pray that the newspaper will encourage many people and help with the rebuilding of Japan. またよろしくね (I look forward to seeing you again)” - Levi Booth
- “世界の人々が石巻のことにまだ興味があると思います。新聞を読むのを楽しみにしています。” (I think that the people of the world will be interested to hear about Ishinomaki. I am looking forward to reading your articles.) - Kerry Williams
- “Your activities are very inspiring. I wish you all at the Ishinomaki Children’s Newspaper the very best for the future.”- Jennifer Hikari Dixon