UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference — Volunteer Training
The UN Conference in Sendai is getting closer and closer. Of course, the city and its residents are gearing up for that momentous week. For one thing, there have been events throughout the city recently introducing some of the many activities that will take place at that time. For example, a few weekends ago in one of the main event centers there was a concert, where the mayor came and spoke.
In addition to all that, volunteers have undergone a year’s worth of training. That instruction was given by a private company and also by the Sendai City government.
She told me that one of the key points, which was stressed throughout, was to promote Japan in general, and Sendai specifically. In order to do that, the participants had to undergo a wide variety of areas of training.
Here is a detailed list of the topics they studied.
First, of course, was orientation. This was to provide general information. It included such things as the UN’s role in disaster risk reduction, the importance of this particular conference, the types of visitors expected, and so on.
Third, the volunteers were taken to tsunami-affected areas. One of those included a damaged elementary school in Arahama, on the coast near Sendai City. The community has turned the school into a memorial so that the experiences and lessons of 03/11 will never be forgotten. The volunteers also heard real-life stories of survivors, one of whom was swept away by the tsunami, but managed to come out alive through that horrendous event. The school and stories of survivors will be part of the UN study tour for visitors.
After visiting those emotion-filled places, the volunteers’ next lesson involved going to pleasant sightseeing spots in and near Sendai.
In the next session, they were given detailed statistics about Sendai and the Tohoku region of Japan.
A few weeks before the conference begins, volunteers will be told their specific duties. No one is sure why this information is being given so late in the training. But one idea is that by not knowing, the participants would stay open to everything that was being taught.
Just before the opening of the conference, the volunteers will get a final pep talk to energize and motivate them to do their best.