How To Be an Actor of Social Change from Your Own Home – HelloWorld Hosts and SDGs

Hello! This is HelloWorld Host team. Today instead of introducing one single family, we have decided to share more on the importance and impact all our hosts have as an essential part of our program. Throughout their hosting experiences, we have been interviewing families and conveying their impressions of our program through our Host Voices series, that you can read here.

What we have noticed from all the experiences of our program, is how sharing your life with students for a short time can meaningfully impact both hosts and guests, and how as a host, anyone can be an actor of social change actively from their own home. Alesse Nunes, from the Ortolan-Nunes host family, shared in a past interview how anyone can any individual can create and develop SDGs – the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Through our interviews, we have seen how all our hosts as well have contributed to some of these – specifically 4 – Quality Education, 10 – Reduced Inequalities, and 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Let’s go through again some of their more meaningful experiences and find out more about this!

In recent years, inequality in children’s education has risen steeply as it is difficult for many kids to access opportunities for active participation in cultural exchange. Whether it is a gap between countries or within the country, the reality is that the disparity between high and low income families has created an educational gap difficult to manage. UN data shows that there is a 100 billion dollar financing gap in reaching educational goals, and the Covid-19 pandemic had made this gap even steeper.

HelloWorld’s mission to contribute to reducing this gap, translates to initiatives such as WorldClassroom and the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program, in order to provide accessible high-quality educational opportunities to all children regardless of their backgrounds.

In alignment with the nature of our program, many hosts have shared the beauty of experiencing cultural exchange from their own homes and being able to introduce their culture to young students. But in addition to that, many have also told us how beyond sharing their culture with the students, they have had the chance to learn from the guests as well. For all hosts, the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program is an opportunity for mutual cultural understanding and appreciation.

As our host, the Jensen Family, shared in a past interview,

It is really important to create this relationship and environment where you can get along and understand each other despite coming from different cultural backgrounds. […] I believe it’s a win-win program for all.

Through providing high-quality, practical real-life opportunity for English learning, the host families have also had the opportunity themselves to learn deeply about the community they are part of.

As Co-CEO Hikari Nonaka wrote in his editorial for the Okinawa Times, at HelloWorld we believe that the opposite of “war” is not “peace” but dialogue, a tool to respect and value each others’ diversity towards prosperous lives. To achieve this, it is necessary to foster a peaceful environment for meaningful dialogue, which, for example, can be found in a short cultural exchange homestay.

The Gurjar family also shared their perspective on this, and how respect, peace and mutual understanding represent important pillars of their culture while hosting:

In India, we believe in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning “the world is one family.” Our goal is to respect everyone and share cultures and goodness as much as possible, so we can understand the whole world from one place.

Sylvia, host mother in Okinawa, also shared how this experience has also allowed her kids to meaningfully interact with Japanese students without feeling any type of cultural or linguistic barrier. Even without mastering fully each other’s languages, the children found simple ways of connecting, whether it’d be video-games or baking together.

My son has been learning Japanese, so it’s really interesting to watch him interact with the guests, both learning different languages, and trying to interact with each other […] I get so surprised that he’s been more comfortable communicating in Japanese. 

Not only Sylvia, but many of our hosts report how a weekend experience has a long term impact on them. Another HelloWorld host, Leila, shared with us how she was moved by seeing her daughter actively interact with the guests, and feel part of the of community.

Hosts have had the chance of sharing positive images of their cultures, and despite the challenges of current society such as digitalization and COVID-19 impacting our social interactions, all of our hosts have reported being able to create meaningful bonds and connections through the peaceful dialogue fostered by HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program.

What is the HelloWorld Cultural Exchange Program?

HelloWorld provides educational experiences to connect international families living in Japan with locals who want to learn about diverse cultures. Through our Cultural Exchange Program, Japanese students who are unable to go abroad get to spend 24-48 hours at the homes of international families and get to experience the world in their own city.

So far, over 200+ host families have joined our program and 8000+ students have taken part in our cultural exchange.

Find more details on how to join us here!