JICA-volunteer Tomoaki Hirano, who worked as a math teacher at George B. Harris Elementary School in Koror until he was recalled to Japan this past March, shared with the Palau Media a letter of gratitude to the Palauan community for teaching him “cooperation”.

 Hirano had been teaching at an elementary school in Japan for 5 years before coming to Palau in July 2018. In his letter, he explained some of the things he taught and learned in his two-year experience at George B. Harris. While explaining his methods of using concrete materials and images to help build a sense of numbers in his students, he explained that communicating wasn’t always easy.

“At times I wasn’t able to deliver my messages well,” he said. “My colleagues [often] translated my messages into Palauan for my students . . . I also thank my students who listened to my lessons with their smiles and tried hard to understand my explanation.”

Although the COVID pandemic forced Hirano to leave Palau earlier than anticipated, he promised to return as soon as flights resume to “return the favor” to the Palauan community.

“I learned that ‘cooperation’ means helping each other, with respect,” he said. “Actually, there were many times when I was helped more than I helped. Thank you George B. Harris Elementary School, my host family, and everyone in Palau for supporting my life in Palau.”

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