On September 13th 2012, Skype connected a school in Japan with a British explorer, Mark Wood. Kesennuma Omose Elementary School of Miyagi Prefecture, is a school famous for its enthusiastic efforts to tackle environmental issues. Mark is a world-renowned polar explorer, educator and speaker who is devoted to working on awareness activities regarding climate change. The two were connected via a Skype video call to conduct an interactive class about the earth’s environment.
In the spring of 2012, Mark became the first person in history to ski solo to both the South and North Poles. He is planning his next expedition to Mount Everest in May 2013, and is currently in Nepal training at the Mount Everest Base Camp. On the day of the interactive class, Mark called the students from Namche Bazaar – a village in Nepal’s Khumbu District known as the gateway to the Himalayas.
Mark has lectured at schools and to thousands of students in 40 different countries around the world to bring environmental issues closer to home, but this was his first interaction with students in Japan.
These students in particular appreciated hearing Mark’s thoughts because the school suffered extensive damage by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th, 2011. Mark provided words of encouragement to everyone at Kesennuma Omose Elementary School: “I heard that with the disaster and tsunami, you all are facing a very difficult time. Everyone in the world is paying notice to what is happening. But I’m sure there are things that you would know only if you have gone through the disaster yourself. When terrible things happen, people can become stronger. Please stay positive in overcoming this obstacle. I will remember our conversation today as I continue with my expedition. And I would very much like to visit you in Japan and meet you someday in the future. “
Mark explained the changes he has seen from the North and South Poles in a way that was easy for the students to understand. “Global warning is most prominent in the South Pole, where the shoreline is getting warmer and iceberg is melting into the ocean. It is also affecting the animals and people living in the North Pole. The phenomenon seen in the North and South Poles are affecting the entire world.”
He also introduced the scenery and local students in Namche through the video call, where students in both countries were able to greet each other.
A total of 83 students, 3 sixth grade classes, at Kesennuma Omose Elementary School participated in the Skype call. They asked various questions to Mark and listened attentively as Mark shared his story: “How much of the effects of global warning can you see in the North and South Poles?” “What was tough during your expedition? What was fun?” “How did you secure food and water?” “How did you dispose trash? How did you go to the bathroom?” “Are there certain rules that you abide by as an explorer?”
We are so glad to be able to connect Mark Wood and the Nepalese students with the students at Kesennuma Omose Elementary School. The Japanese students have been through a great deal, but they appear to be getting through each day with much energy. Skype would like to thank Mark Wood, and to continue supporting everyone at Kesennuma Omose Elementary School.
If you are interested in learning more about how Skype supports inter-cultural cooperation and global citizennship through education, please check out our Skype for Peace initiative.