Our Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake
Support for the English Conversation Class Project for Junior High School Students in the Town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture
Among the three prefectures that suffered the most damage as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture lies in the region that had the highest percentage of homes destroyed and the highest rate of population declined due to the tsunami. Roughly 50% of its elementary and junior high school population still lives in temporary housing.
Katariba, a certified non-profit organization that operates its afterschool "Collaborative School" in the disaster-stricken area, provides educational guidance and psychological care to children who lost their homes to the tsunami, resulting in a situation where they must live in temporary housing and no longer have a calm environment in which to study.
Mitsui & Co. provides long-term assistance to help overcome educational challenges faced by people in disaster-affected areas, endorses the Collaborative School initiative geared toward the development of future leaders who will play a role in reconstructing the Tohoku region, and has been supporting the English conversation class project for junior high school students since 2014.
Children at the Collaborative School are taught practical English through weekly Skype-based English conversation lessons, and furthermore broaden their horizons by taking part in short-term study abroad programs during their summer vacations.
In the career education class, another aspect of its curriculum, Mitsui & Co.'s employees who volunteer as teachers speak about their own overseas experiences and the things they discovered through their change of living environment. In this way, students were provided with opportunities to imagine how they can connect with the world through activities where teachers and students work together to imagine their own future, making use of English they have learned.