On May 10th 2014, the Japan Foundation London held a second translation event with the Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun; a newspaper created by Japanese schoolchildren 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, three years on from the tsunami, the children aim to tell Ishinomaki’s story to people all over the world. To bring this goal to fruition, 32 volunteers spent their Saturday morning translating articles from the newspaper into English.
The event began with a screening of the DVD “Ishinomaki to shinsai- sono ato” (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 Skype. This was followed by a talk about the newspaper by some of its young journalists, including Momoka Saito (2nd year at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School), Hiroki Matsubayashi (1st year at Hebita Junior High School), and Riko Sakai (6th year at Kadonowaki Elementary school). All were fantastic speakers, overcoming their nerves to ask and answer questions from participants on the other side of the world, and even showed off their English language skills for us.
Lastly, the volunteer translators broke into groups and translated several of the newspaper’s 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). English translations of articles from last year’s event can be found here; this year’s translations will be available soon.
Almost all the participants mentioned that they really enjoyed interacting with the organisers and with the children themselves. As participant Robert Henderson states, “It was great to be able to have the live conversation over Skype with the children in Ishinomaki.” At the end of the event, the Japan Foundation collected some messages for the children of Ishinomaki. Here are just a few of them:
“I hope the children of Ishinomaki can fulfil their dreams and become stronger from their experiences. がんばって！(Keep at it!)” – Charlie Marshall
“I really enjoyed talking to you about the tsunami and life afterwards. It was also great to hear about your impressions of the UK. Good luck to you in all your future endeavours.”- Edward Scourfield
“We learned a lot through our article about things we never considered before, such as how the salt water has affected the vegetation after the tsunami. Keep up the good work!”- Claire Thompson
「夜遅い時間に、遠いイギリスの私たちのために、こういう機会を設けてくれてありがとうございます。皆さんのおはなしを、これからも新聞を通して聞けることを楽しみにしています。ありがとう」(“Thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak to you from far away in England, even though it was late at night for you. I look forward to hearing all of your stories through the newspaper. Thanks!”) - Miki Kojima
We would like to thank all volunteers for giving up their time on this project, and to the organisers and children at Ishinomaki for their very genki participation!
Photos from the event can be viewed on our Facebook page here.