When the 9/11 attack in the USA happened, I was 21 years old, a new graduate, and working in Tokyo. It was a shock to my system which had grown up in the peace-numbed Japanese society. I had been blissfully unaware and ignorant of what was happening around the world. The attack seriously made me think of the question: “what is peace, and how can we create a better world?” Through looking for answers to such seemingly naïve questions, I met some people, joined some grassroots peace/alternative movements, and came across powerful movies and books. One of the movies was called “Promise, ”which is a 2001 documentary film that examines the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the perspectives of seven children living in Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Israeli neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. The children shared such simple yet profound messages. I cried and cried during and after the movie. This movie made me aware how we underestimate the wisdom of the younger people. Without politics nor a status-conscious lense, children see through things to the simple truth. I dreamed of creating /holding a space where children would be listened to.
When I shared this thought with my friends, one of them invited me to lead a workshop in a youth camp which was held in Okinawa, the southern island of Japan. There, on the most beautiful remote beach, under the starry sky, I held a “Talking Stone” circle.
I had 11-18-year-olds in my circle sitting around a fire. After I explained that the key element of ‘Talking Stone’ was not about talking, but listening wholeheartedly, without judgement, I asked them one simple question: “What is the most important thing in your life?” I expected some children would say “Gameboy” or other materialistic things as an answer. However, to my surprise, everyone gave the most sincere answers to the question. One said, “It is my life. I enjoy my life so much. So I appreciate my parents to have given birth to me.” The other said, “It is my family. Without them, I cannot exist in the way I am.” Another said, “I love nature. I feel good being in nature, and it provides us so much.” I was taken aback by all the deep answers, because, during the day, they were just children who joke, giggle and fool around with silly things. But in that sacred space of Talking Stone, they were individuals who shared sage words. It was such a simple workshop, yet, it was said by the children to be the most memorable out
of all the workshops that happened during the camp. They were so empowered simply by being listened to. This experience made me decide that I would one day work with children professionally, and I would be someone who would hold a space for them to be listened to. But before doing so, I wanted to gain a lot more life experience, so that I would have more depth in myself and I could be as genuine and authentic as possible in front of children.
Two year later, I took a Permaculture Design course which demonstrated to me how human beings can be caretakers of the land, not just destructors. Permaculture brought me to Aotearoa to practice and learn more about how to work with land. I met my ex-husband in the West coast of South Island, and we lived a basic lifestyle in which we had no electricity nor running water. The sun was our source of light and heat, and rain was our water. I cooked over an open fire everyday and raised my first daughter there until she was 4. This life experience gave me the great sense of stability; I could live happily in any condition as long as I have nature to support me. I trained to become a primary school teacher and taught an Ecological Literacy programme in a private primary school in Ōtautahi/Christchurch where I first met Katie. As I became more aware of the significant importance of Early Childhood Education to a human development, I retrained myself to be an ECE teacher and worked at an Enviroschool preschool. When I started Forest School Leader training in 2018, Katie invited me to join her
journey to start Bush Farm Education. Now I am privileged to teach Little Guardian programme, sharing my passion for empowering tamariki through developing a deep sense of connection with nature and through simply being listened to.