[Volunteer’s voice] To speech Gon-chan’s dream in her own words [English]

Ben-san, who is participating in Canayell 2017 as volunteer called “Empower”, reports his activity in team Tokyo Green and how he is supporting a teenage speech-maker, Gon-chan.

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My name is Ben Strauss, and I am the Manager of the Tokyo Green team for 2017 Canayell. I am American and was raised in Michigan. I have spent 4 years in the early 1990s in Tokyo studying and then working for a Japanese company. More recently, I returned to Japan in 2006, and now live in Tokyo with my wife and three children. I currently work for the Japan subsidiary of a US-based software company, Oracle Corporation.

This is the second consecutive year that I have participated in the Canayell program. To be honest, last year’s participation was challenging for me. Of course there were many enjoyable moments working with the Canayell student as well as with my Empower teammates; however, not being a native Japanese speaker and not having grown up in Japan, I did struggle to keep up at times.  That said, with a year under my belt, I really expect to be able to make a bigger contribution this year!

Our Empower team is supporting a student whose nickname is Gon-chan.  We began our activities at the end of February where we first met and were assigned to our teams during a half-day orientation.

Gon-chan is 17 years old and became a high school senior from the beginning of April.  As we found out at orientation, she has already thought quite a bit about her future and has decided she wants to work in the hotel industry.

At this point, we are still coming together as a team – learning about each others hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc., but we have an overnight trip at the end of March where we will spend more time together and I am very much looking forward to learning more detail about Gon-chan’s dream to work in the hotel industry.



Recently, the Empower team and one member of the Bridge 4 Smile Administrative team visited Gon-chan’s home.  We were able to speak with one of the caregivers and hear more about Gon-chan’s day-to-day life.

We learned that Gon-chan is very busy with school, club activities, and her part-time job.  I realize that adding the Speech Contest preparation on top of this will be a challenge for her. 

Over the next 4 months, myself and the rest of the Tokyo Green Empower team are going to do our best to support Gon-chan to develop a speech that allows her to explain her dream in her own words.


To those that are reading this:  Please come and support the children at the Speech Contest in July! (1st for Yokohama, 8th for Tokyo)
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Caneyell 2017 speech contest is held at following dates and sites.

Canayell Yokohama 2017 : July 1st 2017 (Sat) at Yokohama Tsurumi Koukaido

Canayell Tokyo 2017 : July 8th 2017 (Sat) at Nissho Hall

Ticket is released on  April 10th on this website.

Read more about Canayell
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