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Conversations between Ghanian and Japanese Children

Conversations between Ghanian and Japanese Children


Written by: Mayumi Saito, Japan

This is a story of a small group of Japanese children and their friends in Ghana, who for the past two years have built a strong relationship through collaboration and mutual respect for other cultures.

Our journey began when we were inspired by the2021-2022 Voices of EsF programme. A small group of Japanese elementary children had gathered to have conversations online.Yoshiko Konno and I were the facilitators of the group, the listeners of the children. We regularly met and kept on talking about multiple topics from community-building to their recent matters.

The core of my work has always been to create a child-centred environment which can be done anywhere, for anyone. The mission of Voices of EsF gave me the opportunity to meet these children who are very creative, brave, and thoughtful but did not have much chance to put their thoughts into words. I wanted to let them know that their unheard voices are very important in our society. The pressure of academic achievement can deprive children of having original ideas or chances to speak up to make a change in their community. Once, a child said to me that sometimes she feels it is nouse to share her opinion because no one would listen to her.

The experience of having conversations and being encouraged to speak their mind while others respectfully listen in silence made them realize two important things. One is that they are allowed to talk about anything, and the other is that having a conversation is a peaceful way to solve problems.

After the programme, the children wished to expand their activity as to connect with children in another community to discuss more about the importance of the conversation and share this with a wider community.


Ghanian and Japanese Students

The experience of the children in Ghana also started during Voices of EsF 2021 - 2022 when they served as the focus group for Abigail Dogbe inGhana. Being given the opportunity to freely express their views on global issues as 5th graders without any restrictions was an experience they never wanted to end. There were, therefore, very excited about the opportunity to continue their discussion with children in Japan. The children from Japan were introduced to the children in 5th grade from the McEli Montessori School in Ghana to do their global interaction. What started as a simple discussion last year has now grown into a community and family of children who are always waiting for the next opportunity to share ideas.

Once their first interaction date was set inNovember 2022, the children started off by introducing themselves, which led them to reflect on their own culture. The children realized that they have such a rich culture. The beautiful landscapes, a traditional livelihood in harmony with nature, delicate and thoughtful designs of craftsmanship, gifts from our ancestors. The children thoughtfully picked some pictures of what they think represents their culture and made a short video of it. 

They also sent each other a list of questions. This experience gave children another point of view. The children did not only think about the answers but also the background of the given questions. Ghana and Japan are culturally and geographically different in many ways. The children gradually understood that our interests and concerns are strongly influenced by the society that we live in. At the same time, when they talked to each other, they felt that they are simply all children around the same age. In January, 2024,a session was dedicated to recreation, and the children just played and sang for each other.

In February of 2024, another session was dedicated to having a conversation on “climate change.”The topic was selected by the children. The children spent some time to learn about and discuss this topic before the session.

During their conversation, the children possessed highly delicate observational abilities and passionate curiosity to learn about others and social events.

The Ghanaian children talked about:

- "We need to build factories away from human settlement to reduce of pollution risk to humans."

- "We want to enforce policies that protect the environment."

- "I will educate my friends and people about climate change." "We should educate people to reduce the use of plastics."

- "We will contribute our parts as children to reduce the effects of climate change."


The Japanese children talked about:

- “Losing seasons means losing the diversity of all living things”

- “The governmental initiative is not enough for the prevention of the cause while the small unity such as organizations, schools, cities, and companies are putting efforts”

- “I am an environmental activist and I organize clean ups and events to call for people’s awareness.”

- “I talk about environmental issues with my family. I also visit activists and specialists to learn more about the problem.”“I want to clean earth."


At the end of the conversation, one girl suggested that they take the same action in both countries and exchange the outcome. One suggestion was a beach clean-up, and we will further discuss how we can implement this plan.

After their interaction, the children had the following reflections:

- "The bond that we created for the past two years meant a lot, and I felt comfortable to talk about such issues with my overseas friends."

- "Before the interaction, I mainly learned from books, but now I realize that asking directly and listening to their words is very valuable."

- "I felt that we reached to an age when we are ready to talk about global issues with peers internationally as the young people to lead the next generation."

Their process of mutual understanding began from knowing their identity, opening their minds, accepting the difference and finding the common.When a community meets another, it is the connection between the people in there. It strengthens global unity. The interaction among these children was truly sowing seeds of peace in their minds.


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