Aichi letter swaps deepen ties with Philippine kids

Chunichi Shimbun

Students in Aichi Prefecture are exchanging letters and pictures with children in the Philippines as part of a mutual understanding project led by a Nagoya-based nonprofit organization working in the impoverished nation.

The International Children’s Action Network, based in Naka Ward, launched the project seven years ago to help children in the two countries, deepen their understanding of each other and their vastly different cultures.

This year, ICAN expects some 4,500 letters to be exchanged between the two countries.

In the beginning, only a few schools in the prefecture took part in the project, but that has since grown to 20 elementary, junior high and high schools.

ICAN sets a different theme for the letter exchange each year. This year’s theme is “My Image of Peace.”

The NPO collected 1,800 letters from the Philippines submitted by children from a variety of backgrounds, including those from indigenous ethnic groups and those living in garbage mountains or areas plagued by typhoons or internal conflict.

Included are hand-drawn pictures of their families — people holding earth in their hands, rainbows, nature scenes — their images of peace.

ICAN plans to send 2,700 letters from Japan.

Schools in Aichi participating in the project display the letters in their hallways and use them as study materials in classes and school fairs to deepen cultural understanding.

At Meito Senior High School in Meito Ward, students in the Global English Major Course post the letters on classroom walls and offer their thoughts about them to the rest of the class in English.

“As this year marks the 70th anniversary since the end of World War II, I hope this project can inspire the children to create a peaceful world together,” said Yumiko Nakamura, 33, a staff member at ICAN’s office in Nagoya.

For inquiries, call the office at 052-253-7299.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Nov. 22.

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