文化の壁を打ち砕き、永遠の絆を築く Breaking Cultural Barriers and Building Lifelong Connections

This past March, I accompanied a group of American high school students and chaperones on a visit to Seika Minami Junior High School. The purpose of this visit was to provide the Japanese students with a chance to communicate and connect with peers from overseas.


The event was kicked off in the school gymnasium with a self-introduction by the 12 students and 4 teacher-chaperones from Peoria Christian School, a private school located in Illinois. After a short presentation where they told the Seika Minami students about their school and the surrounding area, everyone broke into groups for game time.


Students from Peoria Christian School lining up to introduce themselves

The first two games tasked students with getting to know one another. Using a worksheet, they asked each other questions in both English and Japanese, such as their favorite color or school subject. The language barrier was difficult to overcome, but, through a liberal use of gestures and simple words, it was eventually conquered as small whispers turned into lively conversations.


Getting to know each other using prepared phrases in Japanese and English

After getting to know each other, they separated into boy groups and girl groups to play “Human Knot” and “Through the Hoop.” The groups used both their best English and Japanese words to help untangle themselves out of a messy knot, and be the group with the most passes through a hula hoop.


The Human Knot game proved to be quite a challenge for some groups!

Following game time, the Seika Minami students sang two classic Japanese songs for their new American friends; their wonderful performance was met with roaring cheers and applause. The event was brought to a close after a few words of thanks from a Seika Minami student representative, and a short question and answer session.


A student conductor from Seika Minami Junior High leads the class in a song

I was initially worried that the students would have a hard time connecting with each other due to a 4-5 year age difference between the American students (who were older) and the Japanese students (who were younger). That uncertainty was wiped away after seeing both groups thoroughly enjoy their time together from start to finish. I hope this experience becomes a cherished memory for everyone involved and an impetus for the students of both schools to build lifelong international friendships.


A picture perfect end!

国際理解講座と写真展示会への誘い Invitation to a picture exhibition and seminar

「心の故郷、京都へ ~5年間を振り返り、京都と日本の国際化を考える~」

Picture exhibition and seminar
“Kyoto, my second home: an insight into 5 years of life and local areas’ internationalization”

cir omoide banner7月末に任務を終えるため、京都府国際センターの国際交流員ボナミ・アリスの最後のイベントと講演会となります。皆さん、ぜひ、ご参加ください!

This is the last event and seminar by the CIR in Kyoto Prefectural International Center, Alice, who will leave at the end of July.
Please come!


alice2● 名前: ボナミ アリス
● 出身: フランス、ボルドー市

● ストーリー:  中学生の時、ジブリにはまり、日本に一目惚れ。大学で日本語を勉強し、1年間屋台と豚カツの国(福岡)へ留学。異文化理解を専攻し、大学院を卒業。 2011年に京都府国際交流員として入洛。そこで、京都にさらに一目惚れする。5年の間、異文化理解・国際交流イベント、フランス自治体との交流事業など を担当し、京都府の国際化と多文化共生に幅広く関わる。


alice3alice4★ 写真パネル展示会
おおきに、心の故郷、京都 ~笑、涙、感動、冒険の混ざった5年間~
6月15日(水)~20日(月) 10:00~18:00
※ 申し込み不要

★ 講演会
そして、京都と出会った ~外国人府民としての想い、地域の国際化を考える~
6月18日(土) 14:30~16:30
※ 要申込、フランスのお菓子付き
※ 本講座は日本語で行われます

★ 場所: 京都府国際センター(京都駅ビル9F)

★ 定員: 45名(先着順) (講演会のみ)



A Spring Dance Party – 親子deレッツ・ダンス~春のダンス・パーティ~

Hi guys! It’s Brian, the CIR of Kizugawa.

To enhance the international exchange of the three municipalities of Kansai Science City in Kyoto, Polly (Kyotanabe CIR), Jake (Seika CIR), and I hold 2 to 3 joint events together every year. And this time, we had a spring dance party.


In recent years only few dance fads have made it to Japan. We wanted to share some of the popular dances in the US with the locals, and we asked our participants to come with their family to dance together at this event.


Our Spring Dance Party took place on March 26. First we talked briefly about the dance culture in the US and the UK. There are school dances in both countries, and also people dance at weddings and other ceremonies. Then we started with the simple and old-school. We did the Macarena. It was easy so we played with the speed of the song and had all of us either rushing or in super slow-motion. The kids really liked it.




Next we introduced the Cha-cha Slide. After we went through the surprise moves like the Charlie Brown and Hands-On-Your-Knees, we had a great time doing the listen-and-move (watch-and-move for us at this event) number.


Body Transformers

Body Transformers ボディ・トランスフォーマー

We then played Body Transformers, which is simply team charades. We challenged the participating families with difficult questions such as conveyor belt sushi and electric fan. We were very impressed with the creativity we saw, and had a good time joining the children in charades.


We finished the event with Watch Me, the song and accompanying dance that went viral in 2015. The moves were confusing at first. After a couple of rounds, everybody was doing the whip, the nae-nae, and the stanky leg perfectly.


Brian dance (3)As our last 3-municipality joint event, I had a great time. Dance is a way of expression, and has long been a tool of social exchange. Plus, it is a lot of fun! With the popularity of SNS such as Youtube and Twitter, hopefully more fun dances will emerge around the world. I hope I can see you on the dance floor someday!



Starting 2016: thoughts from the Miyazu CIR – 2016年を迎える:宮津市国際交流員から

Hi everyone! It’s Jessica, the CIR in Miyazu.

Starting in January, we started a new English conversation group called “Miyazu English Corner” in Miyazu. We host it every Wednesday through Friday and Sundays 2-4 pm. Starting in April we are planning to cancel Sundays. People of the community interested in English who are available between the hours of 2-4 come and try their bests to have simple English conversations with a native speaker. Miyazu’s ALTs also participate when their schedules allow.

Since the group is held in the afternoon participants consist mainly of housewives and elderly retired people. Levels range from people who can have somewhat smooth daily conversations to people who have trouble introducing themselves.

My future goals are to start new activities focused on conveying culture rather than teaching English. Starting next month in March I will be giving lectures once a month about American culture. I always want to work to further establish the duties of the CIR position in Miyazu and try to make it separate from those of the ALTs which I have yet been able to do. I also want to be more conscientious in leaving data and records for the next CIR.

Jessica new year2016年の1月をもって「英語交流広場」という英会話イベントを開設しました。毎週の水・木・金・日の14時から16時まで開設しています。4月以降は日曜日をなしにし平日だけとする予定です。英語に関心があり指定された時間帯に参加できる方を対象にしています。町の英語指導助手にも空いているときに参加していただき、なるべく日本語のない環境を作り市民の方々と簡単な英語でコミュニケーションを取り、参加者の英語力の向上を図っています。



Starting 2016: thoughts from the CIR in Kameoka – 2016年を迎える 亀岡市のCIRから

New year greetings from the CIRs have been late this year because we all have been pretty busy! We are going to upload a series of articles from each CIR of Kyoto Prefecture, introducing what they’ve been up to and what they want to achieve for 2016. Look forward to it!



Hello hello everyone! It’s Michelle again from Kameoka.

It’s been just over half a year since I first assumed my position as a CIR in Kameoka. There have been many ups and downs but it has been a wonderful, fulfilling experience so far!

Within a short span of half a year, I went on a business trip that took me back to North America, got my feet wet (if not thoroughly drenched) with translation and interpretation at major events like sister city anniversary celebrations and Kameoka’s 60th Anniversary, did write-ups, translated and designed monthly and quarterly newsletters, as well as planned, implemented and facilitated international exchange events.


Thoughts michelle (2)The most interesting and nerve-wracking experience for me during the past few months was the business trip to Stillwater, USA in commemoration of the 30th Sister City Anniversary between Stillwater and Kameoka. Not only was it my first business trip but it was also the first time where I had to heavily translate from English to Japanese. The fact that I was only 2 months into the job definitely did not help my nerves either. Despite the million and one anxieties, I was ultimately glad to have gone. The rest of the Kameoka official delegation and the people in Stillwater were considerate of my position which made the interpretation experience smoother than expected. The warm hospitality and welcome from the people of Stillwater left me with fond memories and new additions to my extended “family” network.


Thoughts michelle (1)It has been immensely challenging so far and I constantly thank my lucky stars to be blessed with such a variety of experiences. Not only did I acquire and honed more than a handful of skills, I also gained a deeper understanding of myself.


In fact, I realized that I tend to try and take on too much within too short a time. As such, my overall new year’s resolution, on both work and personal level, is to pace myself and really look before I leap. It is all about making meaningful baby steps!


Mantra for the year is to “Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize!”


Some examples of my work:


Kameoka International Times Newsletter 亀岡国際タイムズニュースレター:


Kirari Newsletter キラリ広報紙:


Easter Party ― イースターパーティー

Hey everyone! Jake from Seika here.

Easter event2On April 5th, Polly, Brian and I planned an Easter Party at the Mukunoki Center in Seika. We started our party with a Team Easter Egg hunt. Each egg had a challenge inside that the children had to complete before moving on to get the next egg. The difficulty of the challenge depended on the color of the egg, and harder challenges received more points than easier challenges. Some eggs had tasks that required a physical challenge, while others asked various questions about Easter. If a team could not complete a challenge they did not get the points from the egg. At the end we handed out candy based on how many points each team got, but all teams got candy so don’t worry.


Easter event34月5日(日)に私とポリーとブライアンが企画したイースターパーティー(復活祭)をむくのきセンターで行いました。パーティーはのたまご探しゲームで始まりました。各たまごの中に子どもが完成しないといけないチャレンジが入っていました。チャレンジの難しさはたまごの色によって、難しいチャレンジのほうが簡単なチャレンジよりポイントを与えました。体力に関わるものや、イースターについての質問型のものもありました。もしチームがチャレンジを完成できなかったら、ポイントをもらえませんでした。最後に子どもたちが得たポイントに応じキャンディーを配りましたが、全員がキャンディーをもらったので安心してください。

Easter eventAfter the Easter Egg hunt we learned a dance called the Bunny Hop where kids stood in 5 lines and followed set of hopping dance moves to music, competing to see which line could make it across the room faster. When the dancing was done, we played a game where kids passed the egg in a circle and when the music stopped, the last person holding the egg was out. Then we ran a race were the kids had to blow an Easter egg across the floor without using their hands. For each game we passed out candy as well!


I had a great time playing games with all the kids and teaching them a bit about one of the holidays I remember from my childhood. All of the kids seemed to have a lot of fun and it was amazing how much they remembered from our presentation at the beginning. I am excited to invite them all back again in the fall for our next event!



Easter event4Hey it’s Brian from Kizugawa City. The CIR collaboration event was a lot of fun this time as well! Being one of the most celebrated holidays in the US, Easter is still not that well-known in Japan. I was glad that we had the chance to introduce it to more people, while having a blast celebrating with the kids through dance and games. Join us at our next event! It will be a lot of fun.


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.