Three years ago, a horrific tsunami wreaked unimaginable tragedy on the northeastern region of Japan. Today, despite that disaster’s after-effects, some of the most inspiring people in the region are the hope-filled, optimistic teens from Tohoku High School. These kids don’t just dream of changing the world. They’re making their mark on it now.
I was honored to meet some of Tohoku’s teens on April 4th when nearly 100 high school students (many of whom traveled more than 10 hours to be at the event), gathered at the House of Councilors’ Members Office Building in Tokyo for the Tohoku High School Students Future Meeting.
The students were there to discuss and create manifestos on serious social issues such as education and employment in the tsunami-affected areas. By meeting in a government building, they showed the nation’s leaders that Japan’s youth can re-imagine the future, the event’s main topic, and bring forth a new era.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe endorsed the event and sent a video message in which he told the students, “No revitalization or future of Japan exists without revitalization of Tohoku.” Guest speakers included Japan’s First Lady, Akie Abe, State Minister Masako Mori and other government officials.
Qualcomm Wireless Reach™ and one of its education project collaborators, Renaissance Academy, co-sponsored the event. The tsunami destroyed schools and the local economy, ruining many students’ dreams of attending college and leaving them unable to imagine their future careers. I had the pleasure, along with a representative from Renaissance Academy, of helping a teen facilitator guide an inspiring and emotionally moving, small-group discussion about how to help child survivors of the tsunami redesign their futures.
I’m so impressed with how the students in my facilitation group collaborated on an idea to create an e-mentoring program in which adults throughout Tohoku and the rest of the nation could share their job and career experiences with child survivors via online social networking services, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The program also called for adults to visit Tohoku and talk with students in person.
These teens understand the power that mobile broadband has to improve people’s lives.
Through my work at Qualcomm, I have already seen how this idea can come to life through our 3G Smartphone and Tablet x Digital Textbook project. The project uses mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) with built-in 3G/LTE mobile connectivity and mobile educational content to help hundreds of Japanese students obtain their diplomas.
Many of the students in the 3G Smartphone and Tablet x Digital Textbook project are trying to attain their diplomas while also holding jobs. This mLearning project allows them the flexibility to complete their coursework, study, take tests, collaborate with each other and access their teachers online whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for them.
I so admire both the Tohoku High School teens and those students at Renaissance Academy who are pursuing diplomas and their determination to prevail.