Taichi Ichikawa is the co-founder of World Road Inc. and the director of World Dream Project, based in Japan. “Building the world into a single school” is the vision of himself and company. To achieve the vision, he is currently working on worldwide education book project called World Dream Project, which gathers 196 dreams with stories from 196 countries into one book promoting SDGs. The book will be published in 2021 and it’s planned to distribute schools all over Japan and also launch worldwide to become next-gen’s textbook.
[Below are some highlights from the interview that are edited for clarity.]
Motivation to start World Dream Project
Taichi: There are two reasons. Firstly, it was my childhood dream to see the world unites into one. You remember your time in school; you open textbook and you see the world map. Also in music class or your daily life, many songs sing about peace, one world, the world can be united things like that. But seeing world map or listening to these songs, I never thought there is something that proves that the world can be one in tangible form. So it was my dream to see the world as a whole really can be united as one.
Then back in 2014, I attended One Young World, so-called Young Davos. There were over 1000 people from over 190 countries in one hall. My impression was, what a tiny world there! And I thought this is it. It was the vision I wanted to chase. People from 190 countries in one place, telling their stories.
It took several years for me to realize I can integrate One Young World inspiration and my childhood dream. I met wonderful people who support me, like my business partner, and publisher, Iroha publishing. Now I’m doing this.
What is the most exciting thing about World Dream Project?
Taichi: There is so so much excitement. It super hard to pick some. But one of the tops is I’m super excited to see people’s dreams. At the same time, it’s heartbreaking for me to choose one person for one country, though. Second is meeting each co-author in the future and have a cup of coffee and talk. It will be under negotiation, but we are planning to create a documentary to visit co-authors and follow their story with a significant site visit.
And another excitement is that it is published worldwide so that it can help people to find their motivation for life. How to enjoy that book can be differed from one person to another, but one of the confidences I have about this book is there must be at least one favourite page for each reader. When you read a book, there is a famous sentence. It’s like that, and it’s the story version of it. You find a favourite person and story, and you learn from it. What’s great about this is, you learn from the world, not just only someone you are familiar with. I think it isn’t easy for many people to learn from other sides of the world, but through this book, it’s possible. I believe it will create a world where people can understand each other. That’s also my vision, so that’s my excitement.
You are also the founder of the company, World Road Inc. What motivates you to start a company?
Taichi: I want to create a world where people can learn from each other. So, the company vision is “building the world into a single school”, that’s the motivation and excitement. A couple of years ago, I had so many troubles came in together. I was mentally violated by people in the company, and I nearly lost a job. It was when I got married. Because of that stress, my mouth was utterly dried always. I was surprised that my body is reacting like that. So I went back to my hometown to recover somehow. At that moment, I didn’t want to do anything. Also, I thought about doing something to help people at that time. It didn’t need to be great. Later on, I realized that it was something you naturally do when you don’t want to do anything; that’s the time that you find what you actually want to do in your life. Then I met great people and shaped how I help people. I found the passion from inside of myself, building the world into a single school. When I have trouble, I go back to the question, ‘is this something I would do even when I don’t want to do anything?’ This is how I motivate myself.
How do you cope with your mental health issues?
Tachi: My first step was leaving Tokyo to find support from my family. I went back to my hometown. I talked to One Young World fellows who helped me in a way that I could find someone who I comfortably talked to. It is complicated to describe this experience. But, talking to people who really love me was my first step to get help.
Messages to young people
Taichi: I’m creating a book with a story. I’ve watched many stories on YouTube, and read the article of young professionals, and wonderful essays from outstanding applications from all over the world. I can say that I went through thousands of stories. Then I came into the realization that only one simple word makes those people inspiring. They use “want” more than “should” in the essays and speeches. I even counted the word, how many ‘should’ they use, how many ‘want’ they use. They use the word ‘want’ more often than ‘should’. You should ask yourself what you want for life, instead of what you should do for life. And you should ask yourself how you want to give back to society, instead of how you should give back to society. That’s my message.