This is a guest blog by Becca Williams, an arts undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia with a passion for storytelling and the environment. She is a Young Reporters for the Environment alumni and won first place in the international video category in 2011.She is one of three young reporters currently in Japan covering a UNESCO conference.

I arrived last night at the hotel in Nagoya at 11:30 p.m. with maybe five hours of sleep in me, but I refused to go to bed until I had some sushi.

The first morning of the conference started with the opening ceremonies, which included a wonderful traditional Japanese theatrical dance piece followed by a very interesting welcoming speech from the Crown Prince of Japan himself. Speaking of royalty, our keynote speaker was the Princess of Morocco, Lalla Hasnaa, who also happens to be the President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (which is super rad indeed).

After the opening ceremonies came the real work – our assigned stories for the day.

Each of us young reporters were assigned to cover an event, workshop, panel discussion or speech from the day and to get our piece in to the Editor-in-Chief by 2 p.m. I covered the section of presentations on “Looking Beyond the UN Decade of ESD”, during which a panel of five ministers from different countries from around the world spoke about their country’s current and planned initiatives for sustainable development through education, post-DESD (Decade of Education for Sustainable Development). With the notion of thinking locally and acting globally, each speaker stressed the importance of starting small and focused when attempting to gain mass participation and implement change, in order for a project to grow.

Our articles have been published!  You can read them here.

After we completed our articles and sent them in for editing, we attended the daily press conference, and after that, the welcome reception.  The reception was wonderful and full of educational bits of traditional Japanese culture everywhere you turned. One minute, I was served with a mug of hand-whisked matcha green tea, and the next, I was posing for a photo with a set of ‘samurais’. Though, my favourite part had to be the endless amount of cucumber maki rolls.

It was a great first day overall! Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get to explore the city a bit so I can actually get a sense of where in the world I am.

Goodnight friends! I mean, Oyasuminasai.

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