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August 21, 2018

Crown Prince and Crown Princess Grant Audience to Returned JOCVs

Eight representatives of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) who finished their two-year assignments in developing countries and have returned to Japan were granted an audience with Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at the Crown Prince's Palace on July 26.

Since 1999, Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess have succeeded their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan in the practice of meeting with representatives of returned JOCVs, giving them the precious opportunity to report on their activities abroad.

Eight JOCVs who were sent to Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Africa met the Crown Prince and Crown Princess this time.

photoIn the front row from left are Tomomi Kotoda, Miya Katayama, Maki Usui and Haruka Yunokizono. In the back row from left are Toru Sasabe, Tomohisa Shirakawa, Director General of the Secretariat of JOCV Mika Yamamoto, Toshiaki Sakamoto and Shinta Suwa.

'It's OK for everyone to be different.' Promoting children's understanding of cultural differences

photoPerforming the song "Soran Bushi" with her students at the One World Festival. Wearing the green happi coat in the center is Miya Katayama.

Miya Katayama taught classes in Japanese culture, English and math to about 100 children ages 3 to 16 who are either orphans or are living apart from their parents due to family circumstances. This work was done at the NGO SOS Children's Village in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. She also participated in the Art Mile Project to teach aesthetic sensibility, and held seminars in sports, making things by hand and Hiroshima peace studies at a summer camp.

Enlarging the market for traditional handicrafts while supporting independence

photoExchanging weave pattern ideas with textile producers. Tomomi Kotoda is on the left.

Tomomi Kotoda was assigned to the Industrial Promotion Bureau of Sainyabuli Province in northwest Laos. She worked on opening markets for specialty products, improving product quality and new product development. The producers she supported won a prize in a specialty goods contest sponsored by Japan External Trade Organization two years in a row and participated in a tour of Japan. She tripled the sales turnover, raised the ambitions of producers and provided support for them to continue the activities independently.

Advising on improving the finances of a nationally managed market, and contributing to composting

photoRaising awareness of the need to separate trash with a co-worker at the market where he was stationed. Toshiaki Sakamoto is third from right.

Toshiaki Sakamoto was assigned to Auki Central Market, Malaita Province, the Solomon Islands, where he worked to improve the accounting process, finances and management awareness. He made a big contribution to improving the market's finances by being thorough about collecting market use fees and was praised by the governor of Malaita Province. His work gave rise to a partnership in which the vegetable waste created in the market was composted at an agricultural occupational training school where another JOCV was stationed, and he succeeded in getting this on track.

Managing milk cow breeding and encouraging the use of data analysis to improve medical examinations

photoAn obstetric examination of a cow. A hand is placed inside the cow's rectum to examine its uterus and ovaries by touch. Shinta Suwa is at center.

Shinta Suwa was sent to the Animal Husbandry Department of Ecuador's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries, which is in the inland Chimborazo Province. He mainly went around with young veterinarians and animal husbandry engineers giving advice to manufacturers on managing cattle breeding. He contributed to increasing the knowledge of producers by summarizing data from breeding medical examinations and holding classes in which he explained issues facing Ecuador's stockraising industry and coping strategies.

Teaching up to 33 classes per week and advising the recorder club

photoHaruka Yunokizono holds a hand sign to teach musical scales to first-graders at the school she was assigned to. Ms. Yunokizono is standing at left.

Haruka Yunokizono established music classes at a large elementary school in Orange Walk District, Belize. She also organized a recorder club and coached the students after school to prepare for local music festivals and school events. By holding workshops for fellow teachers to teach them how to teach music classes, show them the fun of teaching music and motivate them, she paved the way for the school to hold music classes on its own.

Offering various educational opportunities to students by partnering with JOCVs in other professions

photoMaki Usui conducts classes in sign language with co-workers for parents of students at the school for the people with hearing impairments where she worked.

Maki Usui worked at a school for the people with hearing impairments established by the NGO Fair Children/Youth Foundation in Nyange Sector, Musanze District, Northern Province, Rwanda. At the school, she taught the students how to cultivate aesthetic sensibilities and provided assistance with school management. She also assisted with a survey of the people with hearing impairments in the community and supported student job seekers. To increase the range of activity of the students, she taught sign language to their families and local schools and worked to connect persons with disabilities with their community.

Working on a project to re-evaluate the wage structure at the national level

photoWith co-workers at his workplace. Tomohisa Shirakawa is at right.

Tomohisa Shirakawa was sent to the Public Service Reforms Unit, Public Service Agency, Office of the President, in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. He investigated the wage structures of public servants in other countries (mainly developed countries), including Japan, and while comparing them with the wage structure of public servants in Botswana, greatly contributed to the drafting of wage structures by occupation for new public servants.

Holding an athletic meet at a teacher training school and appealing for more widespread physical education

photoTeaching the finer points of the running high jump to students in practical skills training. Toru Sasabe is at center.

At a teacher training school in the Thiès region of Senegal, Toru Sasabe (occupation elementary education, age 33, from Tokyo) introduced practical skills and a student self-evaluation system into a teacher training curriculum in which all students were being taught simultaneously using a lecture model, and he trained students to be ready to begin working in the classroom. At a teacher practice school, he used special activities such as an athletic meet as a tool to set objectives and instituted ongoing classes in physical education, music and arts and crafts, subjects that were almost never taught before.

During the meeting, each JOCV reported to Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako on the status of their volunteer post and related issues, their cooperation with other people involved in the work, the process and outcomes. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess listened attentively as the JOCVs also reported on differences they noticed during their work between their host countries and Japan, and how their work relates to their employment and studies since returning to Japan.

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