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January 11, 2022

50th Anniversary of JOCV Program in Malawi - A Piece of Memory "Connect! Malawi and Japanese High School Students!"

Name: Asumi Tomita
Batch: FY2017-1 (4 July 2017-21 March 2019)
Technical Field: Science Education
Host Organization: Mangochi Secondary School, Nalikule College of Education
Hometown in Japan: Kashiwa City, Chiba

A Piece of Memory "Connect! Malawi and Japanese High School Students!"

Republic of Malawi was where I was appointed as an in-service high school teacher and a member of JOCV. What I wanted to do while I stayed here was to "connect the high school students of Malawi and Japan." How do the high school students on the other side of the planet live, and what are they thinking? I wanted this to be a chance for students to widen their perspective and find dreams by learning about the wide world.

The project was carried out via "video call" with the support of my colleagues in Malawi and Japan. However, there were many difficulties. As an example, there was the problem of "electricity." Will we able to charge the computers in this country where power outages often occur? Can we use the projector without charging function? Moreover, will the unstable "radio waves" reach the same day? Now that I am back in Japan, looking back at this project, things were as difficult as tightrope walking.

And the day arrived. There was the last problem. As they refer to their sense of time as "Malawian time," the people of Malawi do not have a habit of being punctual. Due to the time difference, students in Malawi needed to arrive by 7 a.m. I remember I could not sleep the night before with anxiety, thinking "what if no one arrives tomorrow morning…," since the slogan of Japanese students are "sitting (in their seats) five minutes in advance." With anxiety and impatience, I quickly passed through the quiet school yard and headed for the venue…

Photo

They are here!!!!

Students arrived before me and were waiting. At the same time, as I was feeling guilty for being skeptical, I remember feeling reassured as if the event had concluded.

And then, the video call started successfully. The students introduced each other about their favorite food, school life, and culture. They were all interested and leaned eagerly toward the computer screen to talk. Finally, the students in Malawi performed their favorite song and dance, and the call ended with great excitement.

After that, Japanese students wrote letters to each student in Malawi. Some students wrote in Chewa, the local language of Malawi, and some students sent pictures of Japan. The students of Malawi also wrote letters and replied to each student in Japan.

During my stay in Malawi, I did similar projects in several schools. Among them, there were various reactions such as a student from Japan who participated in this project visiting Malawi after becoming a university student, and a Japanese colleague saying, "I want to join the JOCV." Also, an English teacher said, "I felt the necessity of teaching English to Japanese students so that they can ‘communicate.'" It was a valuable activity that gave many opportunities and learning experience not only to students but also to teachers.

Next will be Tokutake Nohara (Community Development) from batch FY2016-3, who is currently living in Malawi and is deeply integrated into the country.

PhotoLetter from a Japanese student to a Malawi student

PhotoSome Japanese student wrote in Chewa (local language) !

PhotoReply from a Malawi student to a Japanese student

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