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LongGAS2 Yesterday, December 4, marked the last day of the Global Agenda Seminar Series at Roppongi Academy Hills.  At the last session, 7 participants (whose report I selected out of all the participants) made a presentation and Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Professor Heizo Takenaka, of the Advisory Board, asked questions and made comments for each presentation. 

  After all the presentation, three of us selected three winners. We came to the decision quickly as we all agreed. The first prize winner was given the badge to participate in the East Asia Forum held in Jakarta in June, 2011. The two second prize winners were given the gift certificate from Mori Bldg. Corporation.

  The Global Agenda Seminar series began in January, 2010 and met every first Saturday of the month for three hours. We had five young leaders working for the global organizations to resolve some global issues such as hunger, climate change, etc. as our guest. We also had sessions with the members of the Advisory board, and the sessions on problem solving tools and case discussion. 

 For each session, the participants were given the assignment to read reference materials related to the topic in advance, and to write (and hand in) their view for the assignment questions.  At each session we had a guest, after the presentation by the guest, participants had discussion (based upon their written assignment) in breakout groups  and report back to the guest and the entire group. 

  As we conducted everything in English from the beginning, there was quite a bit of confusion and frustration.  The group discussion was not done as effectively and efficiently either.  The written assignment for each session must have been an overwhelming task for the participants who had regular job.

Gasopen1 We made some  adjustment instead of giving up these ideas  and announced the group assignment in advance so that the groups could collaborate before the session. As we proceeded with the seminar series, I could clearly see the progress in how they prepare their written assignment and how they conduct group discussion.

 In addition, each participant was required to select the topic, do research and develop recommendations since the beginning of February.   Until the  deadline for the final report at the end of November, I did counseling for each member, and for the group working on the same subject such as education, climate change etc.  Yesterday was the day of presentation for the final report.

  I know that majority of them spent enormous time and energy doing their  report.  Some got discouraged when they found out their initial hypothetical solution was not feasible when they tested with the people involved.  Others had to change the topic and/or the approach as they found out more about the topic.  I know as I have seen them work and suffer in the proccess.  So I was able to see how much of a progress they had made (though there are always room for improvement) and felt quite proud of their effort and persistence to continue until the last session.

  The series started with a simple idea almost 2 years ago. The original idea turned into something bigger and more ambitious as I received many insightful comments and constructive suggestions from the members of the Advisory board, staff at the Academy Hills and guest speakers.  We tried additional things such as weekly newsletter and group  counseling as we saw the need. 

  There were  many lessons learned for me from this attempt. It began with  my vision of developing young leaders with global perspective and ability to operate in the inter-connected world of the 21st century.  They include;  the need to stay with the idea such as doing everything in English and making written report as assignment, no matter how much complaints you get. You need to prevail when you are convinced of the value of the idea. Another lesson is if you find something additional to be done in the process, do it then, rather than wait until the next round. Good ideas need to be implemented then and there rather than later. 

  I also found out that young Japanese, though they are often criticized as being “inward looking” and not having high energy level, can do something creative and innovative if you yourself have a clear vision, do everything possible in your capacity to realize it with persistence.  They have enormous energy and respond to your vision and initiative if they see the value.  I feel I am the one that received a lot of energy and new spirit from working with them in the past 11 months.  I also thought that if you practice what you preach, with “Do as I do,” and not “Do as I say.”, many people respond to your vision and initiative. 

 I have made many requests in the process as I saw the need and wanted to try it.  I am sure it caused many headaches to the staff at the Academy Hills and probably to the participants who must have been surprised with “everything in English” “written report for every session” and “group counseling at 7:00 a.m.”etc. But they made every effort to make it happen.

  I am very proud that I now have a network of people who are dedicated.  This network is of a great value if we can continue energy, enthusiasm and passion. (Photo shows the books they prepared for me.  This will be one of “my favorite things.”)

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