Hello everyone! It’s
me, Gavyn, the CIR from Seika Town.
This past July, I took part in a Chikyukko Lecture event held by our local international exchange and support group Seika Global Net (SGN). The Chikyukko (Japanese for “small world”) Lecture is a series of talks held a few times a year usually focused on multiculturalism and cultural understanding. This time, the event challenged attendants, both local and foreign residents, to consider not the differences between their respective cultures, but the similarities.
Hello everyone! This is an update from your Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Kyotanabe City, Mary Ho.
On Saturday May 25th, I ran the event 2019 Kyotanabe International Exchange Association Annual Anniversary Event: Let’s enjoy Taiwanese Culture! Every year, the association selects a theme and this year it was chosen to be Taiwan. This year the event featured Taiwanese cultural talk and Taiwanese martial arts performances.
As the speaker for the Taiwanese cultural talk session, I talked about Taiwanese people’s personalities and communication style as well as a brief introduction on Taiwanese history. It was the first time that many of our participants listen to such content and everyone was very curious. At the end of my talk, I had a quiz session with prizes. The participants actively raised their hands and people who answered the correct answers got Taiwan-related goods as prizes. It was exciting to see the participants enjoyed the talk so much. Everyone had fun during the quiz session too.
Then we had Mr.Wang and Mr.Chen perform Taiwanese martial arts for us. The lead performer – Mr.Wang is currently teaches at the Osaka Chinese School for various traditional martial arts such as swords arts and Tai Chi. During the event, not only did they perform the martial arts on stage but they also arranged a practice session with the participants. The participants got to learn the basic moves of Tai Chi and how it can be practiced for daily exercise. Everyone was amazed by the performances and enjoyed learning Tai Chi with the performers. The two hour event went in a blink and I was very happy to see the participants learn about Taiwanese culture in an enjoyable atmosphere. It was a wonderful day filled with the wonders of Taiwanese culture.
Hi! It’s me, Michelle, the Kameoka City CIR. I will be finishing up my term here at the end of June. When I think back on all the valuable experiences I’ve accumulated here, my heart becomes filled with deep gratitude. Thanks to all the people who looked out for me, I was able to lead a truly fruitful, fulfilling and blissful life in Kameoka.
The time I spent here is an irreplaceable treasure to me. I got to learn a little bit of calligraphy, traditional Japanese dance and kimono dressing. Work-wise, I did more than I ever thought possible and it has led to close friendships with amazing colleagues, fellow foreigners, citizens from sister and friendship cities and last but not least, kind local people. When I received my placement notice 4 years ago in May, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would come to love Kameoka this much and that I would be so blessed in both my professional and personal life.
I also love Kameoka city
itself. It is blessed with beautiful nature (Sakura Park during cherry blossom
season and Kuwayama Shrine during fall), delicious food, and a great location.
I remain ever so grateful and amazed that I got to enjoy gorgeous rural scenery
on bike rides, hiking at the breathtaking Hozu valley, eating delicious
traditional cuisine and cozy cafes (my favorite café in the world is Limone!)
while being only a stone’s throw away from the famous Kyoto city.
Volunteering as a
facilitator for the Powwow English Conversation session run by local citizen
group Kyo-cro-cul was especially rewarding when I saw how enthusiastic and
interested participants were to use and learn English. Learning about calligraphy,
Japanese dance and kimono dressing allowed me to experience traditional
Japanese culture up close and deepen my understanding of the intricacies behind
Creating, planning and facilitating the Global Café sessions (organized by KIEA) brought me immense work satisfaction when I saw how happy participants and foreign guests were when interacting and exchanging cultures. I was initially intimidated and overwhelmed at first with business trips abroad. However, not only did I increase my professional competency once I overcame various challenges, I also formed close bonds with some wonderful and interesting people I met in the countries I visited.
Through my position at Kameoka City Hall and
Kameoka International Exchange Association, I was given many chances to be
actively involved in a variety of work from official visits and exchanges
between sister and friendship cities, 2020 Tokyo Olympics related Host Town
initiatives, to projects and newsletter editing work to promote international
understanding amongst local citizens. Neither words nor pictures are enough to
convey the diversity of experiences I was blessed with, so allow me to
introduce some of these many experiences via the video below!
Thank you all for
making me the person I am today. My next step takes me to Tokyo where I will be
challenging myself on an entirely different stage. However, I hope to make
similar connections in my new community by making full use of my experience as
a CIR and to continue engaging in international exchange activities as I move
My name is Gavyn Guigui and I am the new Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Seika Town starting August 2018. Although I am new to Seika, I am not new to the CIR position as I was previously the CIR for Kizugawa City (a neighboring municipality) for two years before coming to Seika. For a more detailed self-introduction, please check out my introduction page!
There are a number of events coming up in Seika Town that I would like to report in the coming days, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I would like to talk about some school visits I made towards the end of my tenure at Kizugawa City.
My stage for the day at Saganaka Elementary School
In my last month as the CIR for Kizugawa, I visited a few elementary schools and one of the city’s junior high schools to present about some interesting things from my hometown Hawaii such as the food, sights, and its cultural differences with Japan. Since the grade levels for which I asked to present to were so disparate, I decided to make two different presentations, one for the elementary schools and another for the junior high schools.
For the elementary school presentation, I talked about basic information regarding Hawaii like how many islands there are in the main island chain, and the delicious foods you can eat only in Hawaii. The children were enthusiastic in their reaction and were very interested in hearing things they didn’t know about Hawaii. Some classes prepared questions to ask at the end of my presentation, and a few of them even asked in English!
The middle school presentation consisted of similar topics, but I added a few slides about the differences between American and Japanese schools. The topics that surprised them the most were perhaps the quality of American school lunches and the lack of cleaning time allotted in the school day. Lastly, I taught them about the Hawaiian alphabet, vocabulary, and how to do a short self-introduction in Hawaiian.
Visiting the schools was a great learning experience on how to tailor educational content for different audiences of varying ages that keeps them interested and engaged. Also, since I don’t teach at schools on a daily basis, it was interesting to see the Japanese student and teacher dynamic in real time. I hope I get to visit many more schools during my time as Seika Town’s CIR!
(Posted by Maia Hall, Kyoto Prefectural Office CIR)
On the 22nd November, 2017, I had the opportunity to go visit the Kyoto Higashigaoka High School to take part in their annual English Village Hello Week. I, and two Kyoto Friendship Ambassadors spoke to a group of about thirty high school students about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We were all from past hosts of the Games: I from the United Kindgom, and the other two from China and the United States respectively. Our talks and discussion ranged widely from the breakdown of the Games, the meanings of the symbols and mascots that were used, the Opening Ceremonies, Olympic legacies, what a country can learn from hosting the Olympic Games, and what Tokyo and Japan do in 2020.
Understanding that these students were a similar age to mine when the London 2012 Games took place, I wanted them to get a feel of how important a step the Olympic Games can be to internationalisation, and the things they can contribute to these changes in the next few years.
The students seemed to enjoy themselves, asked many questions and had excellent English. We hung around for almost half an hour after it was over to speak in both Japanese and English to those who were more keen. I hope their brief but intensive encounter with some outside opinions about the Olympics managed to inspire them to action, or at least think about how Japan can become more accepting and open to diversity!
An international culture-exchange event is held once a month. The theme is either a seasonal event originating from overseas, baking, or an event designed around the interests/talents of one of the city’s AETs(We sometimes have AETs from surrounding areas cooperate in our events but it is usually the AETs stationed in Miyazu City). There are two major types of events: events where foreigners introduce their culture to Japanese residents and events where Japanese residents introduce their culture to the foreign residents. As examples of the first type, since I have started participating, there has been a Halloween party, an Easter egg hunt, a St. Patrick’s Day painting event, A kickball tournament, baking events (cookies, cakes(several)) etc. As examples of the second type, there has been a Japanese New year’s games event, a traditional Japanese dance experience, and a guided tour of the different shrines and temples during the setsubun festival.
IOHMIYAZU is also working on another project that involves training volunteer English tour guides. Volunteers who have interest in English are trained in pronunciation etc of English explanations of famous cultural sites or culture of the area. The volunteers practice both together at the sessions and at home until they are able to guide foreigners in English while referencing the document. One purpose of this activity is for the Japanese volunteers to rediscover Japanese culture and the culture of Miyazu by studying the famous historical sites and culture of the area more deeply and of course, to then be able to convey this newfound knowledge in both English and Japanese. The first trial was held at Seirinji Temple in Miyazu and the theme was Zazen meditation. Volunteers both experienced Zazen meditation for themselves and did desk work where they studied the significance, methods, etc of Zazen meditation. On October 17 several members of a gospel choir from New Zealand and the UK agreed to participate in the Zazen meditation during their stay in Miyazu in accordance with the 40th anniversary of the Miyazu-Nelson sister city connection. It was the chance the members had been waiting for and although it was their first time to actually guide visitors, they did very well. Sessions have also been held on origami and paper crafts and the Old Mikamike House (a historically significant building once used as a sake brewery)but there haven’t been any chances for the volunteers to actually try guiding visitors yet.
Lastly, I am doing a monthly lecture on American culture in order to try to improve the citizens’ awareness of foreign culture. This lecture has been held four times thus far on the topics of the American election system, guns, Easy to identify with topics(drinking age, smoking age, and other age limits; driving; and the school system), and discrimination. The aims of these lectures are to raise citizens’ awareness of foreign affairs and to foster a sense of global awareness and broaden their horizons by learning about foreign cultures as well as to gain a deeper understanding of their own culture by learning the differences that it has with foreign culture. In addition, I am always hoping that through learning the differences with other cultures that the participants will also be able to grasp the similarities that their culture shares with other cultures and by doing so learn to communicate more effectively with people of different cultures and gain a deeper perspective to be able to think of things from many different angles and perspectives. Many international activities, not restricted to my town, target people who are interested in studying and learning English and so only a small portion of the community can participate. I think this is a big problem that needs improvement so I conduct these lectures all in Japanese so that more people can participate easily.