The Faculty of International Studies at Tenri University invited Ms. Mayumi Mukuno to give a lecture in order to raise awareness of international cooperation among students. Ms. Mukuno had recently come back after engaging in the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s Youth Overseas Cooperation Volunteers program.
Upon graduating from Ritsumeikan University, Ms. Mukuno started working for a company. Then in 2008 and 2009, she took part in projects for the International Participation Project organized by the International Center for Regional Studies at Tenri University. Ms. Mukuno decided to pursue the path of international cooperation after engaging in education support for developing countries in Asia.
After passing the entrance exam to join the JICA’s Youth Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, she was dispatched to Peki Tsame Elementary and Junior High School in the southern state of Volta, Ghana. Despite the fact that information education by using computers became mandatory at schools in Ghana five years ago, no instructors were available at that school at that time. Thus, she not only helped children gain a basic knowledge of computers and learn how to use them, but also put efforts into training teachers.
After speaking about the culture, environment, and national character of Ghana, she explained what she had done during the JICA’s program. “In class, children just copied what was written on the board and, after class, they folded the pages where they had taken notes into paper airplanes. I realized that first of all it was essential to explain why education was useful in their lives,” said Ms. Mukuno. She also shared her experience of helping teachers improve their skills in preparing class materials by using a computer.
Furthermore, immediately after the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan last March, Ms. Mukuno asked the Ghanaian children for help, saying, “I would like you to encourage the children who were affected by those disasters in Japan.” Then, she received messages from them saying, for example, “You can get over this! Japan is a strong country.” She sent those messages to elementary schools in Sendai City, Japan. Lastly, Ms. Mukuno said: “There were many difficult times. However, thanks to those children’s smiles, I was able to continue to teach them. I hope that I can somehow keep engaging in international cooperation in the future.”