異文化理解サロン「セネガルにおけるイスラム文化及びその国政への影響 – Intercultural Understanding Seminar “Islamic culture in Senegal and its influence on national politics”

Alice from KPIC!

SenegalOn March 28th, I organized an intercultural understanding salon about Senegal.
Papa Saliou Sarr, originally from Senegal and currently a researcher at Kyoto University, told us about Islamic culture and its influence on national politics.
The topic seems daunting at first but Papa’s explanations made it quite easy to understand. We got to learn about the different ethnic tribes in Senegal, and the difference in their practice of Islam. The main tribes are the Wolof, Al-pular, Serers, Jola and Soninke. The Wolof people represent 45% of the population and are found in almost all regions. Wolof language is spoken by most people, making it the national language, the official language being French.


Religion in Senegal is dominated by Islam with 94% of the total population practicing it. Only 5% of Senegalese people are Christians and 1% are considered as animists.
Islam basically evolved into two branches after the Prophet Mohamed: Sunni and Shia. Sunni is the biggest group within Muslims, which is itself split into other groups, one of them being the Maliki School. Islamic Sufi, which is the main form of Islam in Senegal, is deemed part of the Maliki School and focuses on direct inner experience of God.


SenegalIslam in Senegal is mostly Sufi due to historical figures that had contributed to spread it in the country. In Senegal, during elections, Sufi group leaders often play the role of facilitators and are involved in solving any political tension that may exist between opponent groups; including political party leaders. This specificity has contributed to the development of a very peaceful environment during elections in Senegal since its independence, making Senegal one of the most democratic countries in Africa.


It was a very interesting talk, especially hearing an insider’s viewpoint into topics we don’t usually get to be familiar with.
Participants had many questions and took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Africa, Islam, and about Papa’s experience in Japan.
I will be planning more intercultural salons so look forward to them!


World Festa in Kameoka - 亀岡ワールドフェスタ

Hi everyone! It’s Eric, the Kameoka CIR! Last month we held Kameoka’s largest international event,  the World Festa at Galleria Kameoka. This year’s theme is traditional fashion from around the world focusing on multiculturalism in everyday life. We had many exciting events including a fashion show, world snack booths and a world games corner. At the end of the event all participants got up to do the zumba.



The world snack booth was the most popular with snacks from 11 different countries including Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and France. The cookies from France and Austria were very popular and ran out really quickly. The participants had the opportunity to enjoy tasting and seeing something different while speaking to people from different countries in the booths.

世界のおやつブースは大変人気であり、コリア、インドネシア、ベトナム・フランスなど11カ国のおやつと、日本やコリアのお茶を提供しました。フランスやオーストリアのお菓子はクッキーであっという間に無くなるほどの人気がありました。いつもとは味や見た目の違うおやつを食べて、ブースの中の外国出身の人たちとも話し、世界の味を楽しんだようです。IMG_7513 (5)

This year’s World Festa’s main focus is about learning about traditional dresses and costumes from around the world with the purpose of finding a method to live peacefully with people from different cultures. I hope this event created an opportunity to think about diversity in Japan.


海・空・ひろがる舞鶴 ~「海の京都」で暮らした1年~ Through the sea and sky, the charms of Maizuru ~My year living on Kyoto’s seaside

Sai aisatsu平成26年度舞鶴市国際交流員・崔銘哲より
From Cui Mingzhe, CIR for Maizuru (2014)

One year might feel like a short moment in a lifetime but for me, this one year spent in Maizuru was very intense and felt like fireworks, whose colors are now deeply entrenched in the sea of my memories.

与保呂小学校「インターナショナル与保呂フェスティバル」 Yohoro International Festival at Yohoro Elementary School

舞鶴市民綱引き大会に参加したナホトカ少年団 Students from Nakhodka participating in a citizen’s tug of war

Maizuru is an international city with its inhabitants very keen to engage in international exchange. Maizuru’s sister cities are Nakhodka in Russia, Dalian in China and Portsmouth in England. Only Dalian city sends a coordinator for international relations like myself, but various other international exchange programs exist with the other sister cities, such as exchange between wrestling associations from Nakhodka and young students here in Maizuru, or students interested in learning English experiencing home stays in Portsmouth for example. Lessons with international exchange as the theme are often held in elementary schools and junior and high schools are well, inviting a foreign teacher to talk about their culture and their native country’s history.

ポーツマス訪問団と舞鶴市長 Delegation from Portsmouth with Maizuru mayor

Delegation from Portsmouth with Maizuru mayor



与保呂小学校「インターナショナル与保呂フェスティバル」 Yohoro International Festival at Yohoro Elementary School

Yohoro International Festival at Yohoro Elementary School

As you know, Maizuru is surrounded by the sea. 15 cruise boats visited Maizuru in 2014. It was a heartwarming sight to see Maizuru citizens do their best to talk in foreign languages with visitors from various parts of the world. Many boats are scheduled to visit in 2015 as well so please come if you can.

The beaches in Maizuru are also very pretty. When the blistering heat of summer comes, I think many people in Kyoto city long to spend some time in the sea. I hope you can come enjoy our pretty beaches and get soothed by the sound of the waves.

Maizuru is a perfect city to live in, with a pretty sky, pure air and delicious sea food. Walk along the streets, find a fancy shop to enter, enjoy a deep roasted coffee while listening to jazz music, look onto the never-ending sea and sky, and you forget where you are, living in the moment for a while.

In 2015 the new Jukan Expressway will be completed so Maizuru will be closer for people living in Kyoto city. Maizuru, as part of Kyoto’s coastline, still has a wealth of hidden potential so please support it!

I will be going back to China with a heart full of wonderful memories. I hope my fellow CIRs in Kyoto Prefecture will keep doing their best too!

クルーズ客船のお客さんたちと市民ガイド Local guides with cruise boat passengers

Local guides with cruise boat passengers





All the best for you! これからも頑張ってね、崔さん!

All the best for you!

School visit and Panel Discussion about Love and Marriage in Kyotango – 京丹後市での高校訪問と恋愛・結婚観のパネルディスカッション

Mineyama High School Visit – 峰山高校訪問

Alice from KPIC!

In February I had the opportunity to visit Kyotango in the North of Kyoto Prefecture twice for events linked to international exchange and multiculturalism.


I first went to Mineyama High School as part of an international exchange event held every year. It was my first time visiting this school and after a few email exchanges with the students beforehand I was really eager to meet them all.
4 Kyoto Prefecture Friendship Ambassadors went with me, originally from Hungary, Indonesia, Ukraine and Thailand so we were representing 5 countries in total.


We first met with all the 1st year students (more than 200!) in the school gymnasium for a brief introduction of our native countries.
We had only 5 minutes for this introduction, so I introduced basic facts about France and spoke about French overseas departments and French-speaking countries. I also showed various pictures about French tourist places, natural landscapes, cuisine and cultural events.


Mineyama HSWe then split into classes for further exchange. When I entered the class, all the students welcomed me with perfect French, which almost brought tears to my eyes. I really felt welcomed.

Students first introduced the Tango area to me, with its legends, food and local speech. They put a lot of humor into their speeches and it was really a lot of fun.

I then spoke in more details about France, such as immigrants, high school life, culture and a bit of French language. Exchange afterwards was really meaningful as well, with students asking questions such as “what cultural aspect of France are you proud of?”, “what do you think Japan needs in this globalized world?” and “what is your motto in life?” for example.



I love exchanging with students because they are the ones building tomorrow’s society and having such discussions about different cultural backgrounds and habits is really important for both sides.
I hope I can visit again!


Panel discussion about love and marriage –

2 weeks later I took part in a panel discussion about love and marriage in Kyotango, together with two Japanese, a Colombian lady and a Polish man.

Panel tangoWe were first asked to talk about marriage and love values in our respective countries.
I spoke about the various kinds of unions existing in France first. Indeed, on top of traditional marriage, we also have “PACS”, which is a simpler form of marriage that can easily be concluded and dissolved. Originally created for same-sex couples, it is nowadays very popular with young couples looking for stability but still wishing to keep a certain degree of independence through marriage.
Same-sex marriage was also legalized in France in May 2013 so I talked about the background before the law was passed and the different viewpoints about this topic in France.


I then briefly introduced common views about love and marriage in France. Preserving one’s independence within the couple is really important. Therefore, both people tend to work and housewives are quite rare. Keeping love going on and still being lovers after years have passed and children get into the equation is equally important.
For French couples, preserving a good balance between work, love and parenthood is at the center of a happy relationship.


Panel TangoThe other panelists then introduced how love is viewed in their native countries.
I discovered together with the other participants that divorce is almost unheard of in Colombia because of the very strong Catholic values, and that family is all important and usually placed above private couple matters in Poland.


We then had a discussion with all the panelists, with Japanese people talking about their thoughts on love in Colombia, Poland and France, and answering questions about what Japanese men and women look for in a relationship, as well as the changes currently occurring in Japanese society on this level.

The Colombian and Polish panelists then talked about how they met their spouses, both of them being married to a Japanese person and living in Japan.



The Polish person talked about how he tries to spend as much time as possible with his family and stressed the importance of creating quality time together. To him, it was hard to understand how most Japanese fathers are still mostly absent from their homes.

The Colombian lady told us how she wished that Japanese people spoke more openly about their feelings, especially to their partner. Indeed, and especially in the case of international marriage, no understanding can be reached without proper communication.



The panelists and organizers パネリストと主催者

The panelists and organizers

In spite of the differences in marriage and values surrounding love in our respective countries, the three of us agreed on one point: we do not understand “konkatsu”, the Japanese practice of going to special meetings or events with the aim of marrying somebody met there. For us, thoughts of marriage occur after meeting someone one loves and after spending a few years dating him / her. But the purpose of “konkatsu” turns this whole logical concept around: one meets someone because they want to get married. It sounds like getting married for the sake of getting married and not because you want to spend your life with that particular person.


I realized that no matter how long you have lived in a country and how well integrated you are, some fundamental values do not change. However, this should not be the cause for cultural clashes but rather raise interesting discussions enriching one’s view on the world. For successful cultural integration in a foreign country, holding onto one’s fundamental values while understanding different ones and adapting, up to a certain extent, is necessary. Achieving such a balance can be challenging but very rewarding.


No matter how different our values are, we are all human and all want to experience beautiful love. Fear of cultural differences should not prevent us to build relationships with somebody we like. In the end, we regret the things we didn’t do and not the ones we did, so go on and open your heart next time you meet that special someone!


Nantan Kids Carnival 2015 – なんたにあんキッズカーニバル2015年

Alice from KPIC!

On the 7th of February I participated for the 4th time in the Nantan Kids Carnival, an event held every year. This year’s theme was “children’s games around the world” so I prepared activities based on French school festivals for my booth.


Nanta 2015

Face painting on the New Zealand booth ニュージーランドブースでのフェイスペインティング

This year we had a hundred people participating and booths from 7 countries: England, Jamaica, Philippines, New Zealand, Peru, Germany and France. Children first roamed freely in the room, exploring the different booths and chatting with the people from each nationality holding them.

They could enjoy tea and butter cookies at the English booth, various games at the Filipino and Peruvian booths, reggae dance at the Jamaican booth, face painting at the New Zealand booth and eating potato and jam pancakes at the German booth.



Ball game on the French booth - フランスブースでのボールゲーム

Ball game on the French booth – フランスブースでのボールゲーム

I had prepared 3 activities for the French booth: a paper plate game, a ball game and a craft activity. Every time children won a game, they could eat French candies. No need to say that they tried their best!

For the paper plate game, children needed to throw a tennis ball on to paper plates laid on the floor.

For the second game, I fixed some ropes to the wall and children had to make a ball roll on those up to the appropriate place before letting it drop in a basket. It was a really popular game with children lining up to enjoy it again and again.

The last activity was a small craft, where I taught children how to make a tricolor pompom with the colors of France (blue, white and red). They could then fix it to their bag, clothes etc. Some of them even used them as necklaces!





Fun times !  楽しい時間!

Fun times !

It was then time for the general game time. I had prepared a game called “the fishes and the fishermen” where pairs of 2 people (the fishermen) each form a “net” by joining their hands while the other people (the fishes) run around between the nets. The fishermen secretly decide a number between themselves and count aloud, subsequently dropping their hands when they reach their predetermined number, catching anyone who is passing through at the time. Children running around and laughing trying not to get caught was really fun.

We also played a game using colors’ names in English, a dodge ball game and ended the day with a reggae dance from Jamaica.



It was a really nice day spent playing with children and teaching them games I had played in France as a child. The children seemed to enjoy themselves a lot as well, trying new tastes with the German pancakes and getting to know other cultural backgrounds.