I returned from Seoul on 17th, and after spending a few busy days in Japan, I came to Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates（UAE）on 22nd in the afternoon. Approximately 15 Nobel laureates have participated in a conference called "Festival of Thinkers." I have been at the Dubai airport many times but this is the first time I am coming outside the airport. Coordinator of Japan delegation was Dr. Cassim, President of the Asian Pacific University.
On 21st late afternoon, I moved from Haneda to Kansai International Airport. In the lounge, I met Dr. Nassrine Azimi, who is joining us this time and we departed by a midnight flight. She is the director of UNITAR in Hiroshima. She is an intellectual cosmopolitan of many accomplishments, a native of Iran, and has completed her education in Switzerland. 3 years ago, soon after she assumed the office, I went to Hiroshima to attend a seminar (blog: Oct. 21, 2004). A storm was approaching then and there were a big earthquakes known as Chuetsu Earthquake in mid Nigata prefecture.
So it was nice to meet her after a long time and I really enjoyed talking with her about various topics. We also discussed about the panel at the conference and I introduced Professor Miyagawa of MIT by e-mail. Dr. Miyagawa is a member of the team which planned the Open Course Ware of MIT, and recently he has started a fantastic program called Visualizing Cultures with Professor John Dowers, a Pulitzer Prizes winner and the author of "Embracing defeat." I have a feeling that something wonderful will come out from the collaboration of Professor Miyagawa and Dr. Azimi. By the way, Professor Miyagawa is staying in Japan this year so I invited him to the National Institute for Policy Studies to give a speech to high school students of Musashi Gakuen. I will write about it in some other occasion(blog: Jan. 4, 2005）.
After arriving Dubai airport I traveled towards Abu Dhabi by car for about 90 minutes. There were many new constructions springing out from desert, and everything was very energetic. There was a feeling of "money can do anything." I heard that 60% of the cranes from all over the world were brought here. Leaving the suburbs behind, the car ran and ran through the highway in desert, and as we approached towards Abu Dhabi, trees and greens increased. So I was relaxed. It was also because some of the views reminded me of southern California. The green view s a result of the efforts of Zeid, late great emperor of Abu Dhabi who has taken initiative in tree plantation campaign of "green desert, green country." This is a great achievement.
I reached Abu Dhabi early in the afternoon and stayed at the Emirates Palace Hotel (for details, refer http://virtual-emiratespalace-uk.com/). The hotel was huge just like a Palace, with beautiful private beach. I hear that former Prime Minister Abe and many people from the business world had stayed here in the beginning of this year. I heard some stories about it, too. During my stay of three days, I could not understand the structural design of the hotel. I was tired just by walking inside the hotel.
Photo3: Dr. Cassim and Dr. Ishikura
On the same day, I went to the Japanese school in the afternoon, as His Excellency Hatano, the Ambassador invited me. There were approximately 50 to 60 students from kindergarten to 9th grade. I would like to express my appreciation to Principal Mr.Yoshizaki, teachers from Japan and all local assistants for their hard work. Under the suggestion of His Excellency Hatano, four local children were also admitted in the kindergarten. I was told that the school plans to increase the number of local children in each class and the children’s parents appreciate the disciplinary rules, same meals being provided to every children etc. in Japanese school. Such kind of small things will become foundation of building goodwill, exchange of ideas and mutual understanding.
My speech was for about half an hour and mothers of many students were there also. It is very difficult to interact with an audience consisting students from 3years old to the students in 9th grade. However, I told them that I think the Japanese schools are very much blessed as compared to times when I was in Los Angeles when the Japanese School system (a supplementary school which opened only on Saturdays) began to take shape and the returnee student admission system several years later. I also told them that to experience things that people usually can not experience could be very helpful in future global era and my expectations to the children who will live in global era.
"Among the schools you’ve seen, which school was good?" was a very difficult question. Therefore, I told an experience when I had visited last year to Olympic Primary School in Kibera Slum (Reference 1) of Nairobi (blog: Jun. 27, 2006). Children in this slum area face a very hard life, where there is no toilet in their narrow houses, no kitchen, no electricity, dirtiness all around and they are struggling to stay alive every day. All the classrooms overflowed with the students and everyday they commute to school by walking for more than 1 hour. However, I saw a spark in their eyes, they were studying sincerely even in such hard conditions and the teachers were confident too. This school is from grade 1 to 8 and is the top school in Kenya. I told them about my comment "The most moving experience in my life, I see the future of the nation" which I wrote in the guest book. I hope someone will read this comment in the future. I do not know when it will happen but I am waiting for the news.
I was happy to answer the wonderful questions from the students. Problems senior students were facing were, naturally, mainly about career options. They were worried about their future like whether to go to Japanese school or about career objectives. It is very difficult for the children and their parents also. There might be some problems specifically because it is a full time Japanese school and not an International School.
For example, a girl in ninth grade who came from Egypt. She has a good command on Japanese as well as Arabic; however, she was not sure about her future career options. I recommended that, thinking about the future world, unless she has a definite reason or objectives to go to Japan, she aim at English speaking countries or perhaps the schools having English as the main language.
I understood by looking into the eyes of those children that they have a great potential and fighting with the uncertainties/anxiety of being between Japan and foreign countries. I was impressed. I wish everyone a great future and great dreams.
Photo6: At the ambassador’s residence, with the Ambassador His Excellency Hatano and Ms. Maria Yogo, Assistant Director of Japanese kindergarten (Maria Yogo is a Japanese name. She has many doctors in her family.)
Photo7: Dr. Ishikura, Professor of Lindqvist and Director of Nobel Museum with his wife.
Photo8: Dr. Kary Mullis, the famous Nobel laureate in chemistry, inventor of common Gene amplification methods PCR and his friend; Dr. J Barbour, a "Physicist and Author" who writes books on light etc.
In the evening, I had dinner at ambassador’s residence and it was a beautiful moment to meet old friends, be acquainted with new people at the assembly reception.