Global video conference


At 8.00 am GMT, Bronward Education Communications Network (BECON) in Florida USA connected seven groups of children in six countries on five continents in the video-conference of the Millennium, “Sharing Peace and Culture Through Music” (click on names of schools to see photos):

1. Azidaini Primary School, Japan (17.00 local time)
2. Bairnsdale Secondary School, Australia (23.00 local time)
3. Treklang Choir, Tromso, Norway(9.00 local time)
4. Collegi Paidos, Sant Fruitos de Bages, Catalonia, Spain (9.00 local time).
5. BECON centre, Florida, USA (3.00 local time)
6. United Nations Centre, Nairobi, Kenya (10.00 local time)
7. Arakawa Primary School, Japan (17.00 local time)

Each group sang the Millennium Song in their own language, and the global celebration ended with everyone singing the song together in English. We think this is the first time that children from five continents have sung together in this way.
The idea was born at the I*EARN conference in Beijing in July 2000, and was coordinated in Japan by Yoko Tanagi (see the Teleclass Project) and Michael Greenacre in Catalonia, Spain. Here is Michael’s letter written to participants afterwards, describing the event. Kazuko Okamoto has also set up a web page about the event, which includes photographic and video material.

Dear Friends in Japan, Australia, Norway, USA, Kenya and Spain

An amazing experience, it was bewildering, magical, fantastic, surprising, mind-boggling, entertaining and… well just incredible. Was it all a dream???

We started on time and finished on time, although it was clear it was difficult to pull ourselves away from that screen at the end. Once you get used to speaking and seeing friends on the other side of the world, it becomes addictive! BECON, what a slick technical job you did, Yoko, what great programming you made, and everyone: what a show!

Japan! Costumes, traditional dances, orchestras, new musical arrangements, what can I say??? If you have recordings of the solo played on that beautiful stringed instrument, and of the orchestrated version of the Millennium Song, I could put it on the web page. Is that possible? Did you record it? Can you send me MP3 files? Thanks to the mayor for his presence and introduction of Azidaini primary school. And thanks to the organizers of the events at both Azidaini and Arakawa schools for very entertaining shows, moving from music to dancing to singing. You surprised us all!

Australia! Four girls produced a whole variety show! Each one was wonderful. From sensitive rendition of the song to musical performance to tourist information about Bairnsdale – you should form a company and go on tour!

Norway! I didn’t mention that Tromso was in the Arctic circle. So everyone should know that our friends there do not have sunlight again until the end of January!! In spite of this their sunshine spirit came shining through in their performance of the song, thanks thanks thanks to Julie for training the choir, to all the girls for their participation, to Inger and Nora for facilitating, and to Jan-Hugo for managing the technical side. I will be up in Tromso again, maybe at the end of January, and I would like to meet you all.

Spain! That is, Catalunya! You all worked together so well, and it was so significant that you sang the song in Catalan, Spanish and English. Thanks to Anna-Maria and all your time preparing, to little Gisela dressed in traditional Catalan dress and holding the flag, and to Denso, the Japanese company in the village of Sant Fruitos de Bages who let us use their video-conference room. Great Japanese-Catalan cooperation!

BECON in USA! We loved your rap version of the Millennium Song. My daughter Gloudina, who is a hip-hop and funky dancer, almost jumped up and danced! We want a recording of this as well, if possible, for the web page. What a concept! What a great arrangement! Give that cool musical director another hug from me! Time..has..come-to-change… I can still hear it.

Kenya! Another “Small is Beautiful” group. We take your messages about conservation to heart. Treasure your water, don’t use so many plastic bags, keep your environment clean… We loved your songs and your teacher is such a lovely person, thanks for joining in (two days ago??) to represent the continent of Africa. Today it is also Reconciliation Day in South Africa, where I come from, we were timed perfectly to sing the Millennium Song on this day (“Forgive the past”).

I can’t say how much we enjoyed this 90 minutes together. It was a very precious experience and we have made a video over here of our view of it all. Also a TV camera was here filming so it should be on our local TV station soon, I will try to get copies of the footage. I hope that many of you also took some photos and video of your experiences. I was worried about Florida having to stay up till 3.00 am, but it sounds like you guys had a great party, barbecue and all beforehand. Hey, next time we want to take the early morning slot, OK?? We’re envious!

Yoko, are you going to present the whole experience at the I*EARN conference in Cape Town? I hope so, and then we can all send all documentary material to Yoko.

Again, to BECON, to MaryAnn and Joy. I had been nervous about the technical side, never having done this before. But not a single hitch! What a success!! Perfect coordination between sites, good sound and visuals, as I said before this is addictive, I want to see you all again! Tomorrow! MaryAnn, if you can send me some .jpg files of images from the video recording, I could put them on the web page too.

Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved, have a happy Christmas, and carry the message of the Millennium Song and your experience today to all around you and into the next 1000 years!!!!


We will bring you more news about this unique global event, as well as more photos, soon.