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Qatar Friendship Fund Project News Letter

1.       A day in the life of a child at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL
 
MORIUMIUS LUSAIL is a modern sustainable learning complex using a restored 93-year-old elementary school, supported by a grant from the Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF), in Ogatsu-cho of Miyagi, Fukushima. With rich forests and the ocean right beside the facility, children can learn from longstanding life traditions handed down through generations in the area. Children are the main actors at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL, and with the help of adults, they tackle various challenges in the woods, at sea, and in the fields. On this particular day, children went out early in the morning with local fishermen to catch salmon that came back to lay eggs at the rivers where they were born. Around noon, the children and fishermen came back with a salmon larger than the arms holding it. The children quickly took on their next challenge: taking out the salmon roe.
 
(A boy cuts a fresh salmon’s belly to take out shiny, red eggs.)
 
The staff at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL know that the children are the main actors. The staff guide the children using real material, such as the salmon, to learn practical things and ask themselves various questions, such as: How do we use knives? How do we cut fish? Why do salmon come back to the rivers they were born in? And why do humans take the lives of fish and other animals?
 
Meals at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL are also great opportunities for learning. The children and staff eat three meals together each day, sharing the great food made from local produce, and enjoying conversations. These talks are sometimes in English, in addition to Japanese, when supporting staff from overseas are staying at the facility. In addition, alumni of the elementary school, restored and used as MORIUMIUS LUSAIL, frequently join the staff. They are very happy to see their old school transformed into a new learning facility for children, and to see the place lively with visitors from all over the world. 
 
The countless experiences made at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL will stay in the children’s minds forever and become their life-long treasures.
 
MORIUMIUS LUSAIL provides many plans to spend the summer by experiencing Ogatsu’s rich forests, sea, paddies and fields, outdoor cooking, exchange with locals, handcrafts, and English programs. Summer seasons plans are currently open for those who would like to experience the nature and people of Ogatsu as if you are living there. For details, please visit http://www.moriumius.jp/modelplan/ (stay plans are for primary and secondary school children only).  
 
(One dinner at MORIUMIUS LUSAIL: dark sleeper (called “donko”), a deep-sea fish hard to catch in waters near large cities, fresh whelk (shellfish), and octopus caught in the morning from traps.)
 
2.SENDAI for Startups! 2016 gathers entrepreneurs from the region
 
SENDAI for Startups! 2016, hosted by the City of Sendai, was held on 24 January 2016 at the Kawauchi Hagi Hall of Tohoku University. The hosts were concerned about heavy snowfall during the night before, but the conference day was blessed with good weather, gathering 757 participants (actually more than the previous year’s turnout) all with strong startup spirits.
QFF, which supports entrepreneurs through the INILAQ Tohoku Innovation Center, had set up a booth at SENDAI for Startups! 2016 to promote its activities.
 
(Many aspiring entrepreneurs stopped by the booth to inquire about INTILAQ’s services, fees, and facilities.)

Sendai is known as the second most attractive city for startups in Japan(*), with solid public-private partnership initiatives set up to actively support future CEOs with new ideas. Sendai city hosted this lively event which featured well-known businesspeople as keynote speakers and panel participants. The experiences shared by these entrepreneurs, who took a leap of faith to start their successful ventures, were very inspiring and participants learned a lot in one day.
(*)Source: Entry rates of Small and Midsize Enterprises (SME) by Prefecture, 2015
 
One speaker had started his business after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Though the disaster caused much damage to people, it also served as an eye-opener. The disaster made the entrepreneur realize that there is only one life, and therefore it is important to pursue one’s dreams immediately.

This speech concluded with advice that gave courage to Tohoku: with the experience of disaster, the people of Tohoku can become the source of new power.
 
INTILAQ Tohoku Innovation Center provides useful trainings to hone skills necessary for starting businesses, such as global communication and design thinking, as well as mentor programs to guide entrepreneurs. The center supports startups not only with software but also with hardware such as a meeting room (30-50 pax) that can be used for training or seminars, and a co-working space for members. For details, please visit http://www.intilaq.jp/
 
(Speakers, faces beaming with confidence, line up for a photo shoot.)
 
3 Children and students have fun at various workshops held at Qatar Science Campus
 
Qatar Science Campus (QSC), built with QFF’s 200-million-yen grant, is organizing highly relevant workshops on a monthly basis to give children and students a chance to learn more about scientific research and engineering.
 
Last January, children made traditional kites that are indispensable during the Japanese New Year celebrations. With the help of a local kite association “Sendai Tako no Kai”, a squid-kite called “surume tembata” was conceived.
 
Children learned about the history of kites, as well as how the kites fly so high, before creating their own. A kite must have good balance on both sides to fly well, so the children spent 1.5 hours carefully building their own kite. After the kites were made, they went outdoors to fly them. The sky surrounding the local mountain, Mt. Aoba, was filled with colorful, one-of-a-kind kites.
 
(Children coloring their kites using their original designs.)
 
In February, children built their own helicopters with the help of engineers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries – a company that actually manufactures helicopters. The group started by making rotors, which give the helicopters their lifting power, and experimented with the blades, seeing how the lift power changes when the blades were twisted or cut short. After the helicopters were made, the group went for a test flight. Participants enjoyed learning about the ideas and the technology used in these experiments and indeed building their own helicopter. 
 
(Kids working hard on building helicopter rotors)
 
In March, a workshop entitled “Find the secrets of electricity! Make your own electricity” was held with the support of Tohoku Electric Power. In the first session, children learned how electricity is made and brought to each home, and later enjoyed making their own electricity using a hand generator.
 
(Children focusing on how electricity is made)
 
 Yamaha Motor supported the April workshop entitled “Make a wind car and see it run into the wind”. A total of 80 elementary school students had fun building a wind car, which interestingly runs forward into the winds blown right into its faces. A pilot run using the wind cars built by the children was held at a 3-meter long wind tunnel test system. The young engineers tested their ideas through many trial-and-error innovations in order to make their wind cars run in 6 seconds, which was as fast as a wind car built by an adult.   
 
(Small changes make the difference. Children try their ideas to make their cars faster.)
 
The Qatar Science Campus is located in the School of Engineering of Tohoku University and equipped with 3D printers, 270-degrees panoramic screen systems, and other special facilities. Its mission focuses on enabling science experiments not feasible in schools and providing greater opportunities to learn about cutting-edge research. These experiences will help nurture future engineers and scientists who will create new industries. Furthermore, through the exchange between local universities and businesses, the children will understand and become more attached to their hometowns. In turn, this will increase the number of people working in reconstructing the communities. More than 10,000 children and students from local elementary, middle, and high schools have already taken part in science activities at QSC. QSC plans to expand its activities, and promote the participation of children from other prefectures.
 
4 Movie on Onagawa entitled “Beyond the Tsunami” released
 
On 7 May, the last Saturday of the Golden week holidays, a documentary titled “Beyond the Tsunami – Onagawa, Hearts Connected” was shown at Yurakucho, Tokyo, before its nation-wide release. The movie features the small town of Onagawa, Miyagi, and documents its reconstruction efforts. MASKAR, the multifunctional fish processing plant built with the assistance of QFF, together with Mr. Youetsu Ishimori, Vice Chief Director of Onagawa Fishery Cooperative, is featured in the film.
 
Mr. Ishimori, who greeted the crowd before the screening, answered to the question “what was on your mind when you were working to build MASKAR after the disaster?” … “We just wanted a chance to think about the future. We had nothing, really nothing. It was devastating. We wanted to make something big, big enough to be able to start moving forward again, something we can have dreams and hopes about. Then QFF came along with the funding, and we were able to build MASKAR. MASKAR really helped the town move forward.”
 
Her Imperial Highness, Princess Mako of Akishino, was also present at this screening. The Princess had participated anonymously as a volunteer in Tohoku after the disaster, and is a strong supporter of reconstruction efforts. After the screening, Her Highness commented that “the movie, with the people of Onagawa living positively, gave us a lot of courage. I would like to recommend the movie to my family and friends”.
 
The film is scheduled to be shown in 14 theaters as a road-show. For details, please refer to the following:
http://onagawamovie.com/
 

 

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