JET Program CIR Report
CIR Report from Kanazawa (1)
(Coordinator for International Relations)
Hello everyone！As Sophie said goodbye in her last report, it is now my turn to say hello for the first time :) Let me introduce myself: My name is Marlies and as of August this year, I am the new Belgian CIR in Kanazawa… or to use the favorite introduction line of the Japanese here: “I am the new Sophie” (just goes to show how much of an icon my predecessor is) :)
Click image to enlarge With Sophie
I’ve been in Kanazawa for about three months now, three months filled with a ton of small and big adventures. What follows is a recount of some of the highlights :)
I arrived in Japan on August 1st, for a two-day Tokyo Orientation together with the rest of this year’s fresh batch of JET’s (short for Japan Exchange and Teaching Program); All in all about 1500 of them, from all corners of the world. Being the only Belgian made me a bit of a rarity :) The Orientation was intense but exciting; lots of information, lots of new faces (in the picture there is me and my Italian roommate Anna, who went to Nagasaki), and lots of tips and advice on how to get by.
Click image to enlarge JET Orientation
On the 3rd I got on the plane with my Ishikawa colleagues and we set off to Komatsu, Ishikawa. There our ways parted and everyone left for their respective cities. I had my own welcoming committee waiting, my supervisor Iwata-san and the boss Shimaura-kachōsan. We had a very busy day ahead of us to get me settled in; paperwork, office introductions, more paperwork, necessary shopping, etc. The next day I would officially start work and my first challenge would be a visit to the mayor’s office. Despite my nerves, I somehow got through that visit, and thus my working life began.
Click image to enlarge Neighbourhood Way to work
The first days were calm, with only a bit of translating work from and to Ghent, Kanazawa’s sister city… but things picked up rapidly after that:
Click image to enlarge Belgian Booth
My first big event was the Kanazawa International Friendship Festival on October 1st and 2nd, which was basically a big international party, with food, dance and music from all over the world! My four CIR colleagues (French, American, Korean and Chinese) and I had to present on stage, dressed in traditional national costumes (I ended up in Russian dress and Indian sari), organize games from our home country for the kids and give a country introduction for the adults. It was great fun!
Click image to enlarge Int'l Friendship Festival
With the new school semester well underway in October, we had our fair share of school and kids events as well. There was an event at the Kanazawa Sister City Park, where elementary school sixth graders introduced Kanazawa culture to us and we in turn presented our home countries and Kanazawa’s respective sister cities to them. Only a few weeks later we were received like celebrities at another elementary school for a similar exchange of culture presentations. For a somewhat younger audience, my Korean colleague Yulim Lee and I were invited to perform a puppet play, sing Korean songs and play Belgian games, and to top it off, read a picture book in English and Japanese at the library.
But in between all that work, there still has been time to play too. There were a number of welcome parties in my honor (I learned that the Japanese love welcome parties :) ), and during the first weeks of my arrival I got to see some amazing fireworks at the riverbank, and went to join a local bon-odori festival (Japanese dance festival).
Click image to enlarge Welcome Party
At the end of the month I also got a visit from my parents, their first time in Japan! We were able to do some sightseeing together, and they got to meet everyone at work as well. Having seen that my new living place was very welcoming and nice, they could return home a bit more reassured.
Click image to enlarge Nara With Parents Natadera
After my parents left, one of my friends from university passed through Kanazawa… on her honeymoon! I got to steal her away from her new hubbie for a while to go discover new corners of Kanazawa together, while catching up on our girltalk :)
Click image to enlarge With Friend
And after the honeymooners had left, three exchange students from Ghent came to take their place, so that I would not be the only Belgian in Kanazawa for a while :)
One of my biggest adventures so far has been without a doubt climbing one of Japan’s holy mountains Tateyama, with a bunch of my colleagues! Beautiful autumn colors, breathtaking views at the top, and a bit of a snowstorm during the descent, quite the adventure it was indeed :)
Click image to enlarge Tateyama & the climb
And now, at the beginning of November, there’s a whole schedule of new adventures awaiting me,… but to find out how they will turn out, you’ll have to check my next report in a few months! ;)
Groetjes uit Kanazawa!
(Photos by Marlies)