This week we hosted our first face to face (via Zoom) meeting with Professor Eiji Tsuda and his students from the Kobe University in Japan.

Using the e-conferencing equipment at The People First Conference Centre, Members of the Carlisle Self Advocacy Group got together with a cohort of Japan-based students who have Learning Difficulties.

Sharing views. Asking questions. Finding out about each others’ culture. The session was the first of five virtual discussions that will explore the lives, experiences, culture and history of people with learning disabilities and/or autism in the UK and Japan.

Over the next few months, the self-advocates and students will meet four more times and in doing so will share their life experiences and the general conditions of their respective countries. This project will allow us to work together and look at what a good life looks like for people with Learning Difficulties and/or autism in UK and Japan.

Explaining the aim of the sessions, Professor Eiji Tsuda, said: ‘I thought it could be a very good opportunity to learn for my students to face the difficulties and try to find the solution to mediate between people with learning difficulties in UK and those in Japan”

This exciting opportunity is the product of a connection between Professor Tsuda and Dr Rohhss Chapman (People First Director of Education Research and Inclusion) who met over 15 years ago through the Open University. Since then Rohhss and Eiji have kept in contact and worked together on a range of projects. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, we have spoken about setting up remote contact to share experiences of the pandemic.

About the upcoming sessions, People First Learner, Tom, said “I would like to know how different things are for people with Learning Difficulties living in Japan. I am looking forward to our meetings.”

People First Education Manager said: “We are pleased and excited to connect with Professor Tsuda and his students to share experiences, find common themes and investigate any difference in opportunities across our two countries.’

We are looking forward to our next session which is due to take place in November.