JET Program CIR Report

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CIR Report from Kanazawa (20)

By Sophie Bocklandt
(Coordinator for International Relations)

 

Dear readers,

The time has come for me to say goodbye. My five years as a Coordinator for International Relations at Kanazawa City Hall will come to an end on August 6th. The lovely Marlies Holvoet, another graduate from the Japanese Department of Ghent University, will take over from me. I wish her all the best and can only hope she will enjoy her job and life in Kanazawa as much as I did!

For five years I have written here page after page about my Kanazawa life, all the professional challenges I faced, all the events I participated in, the numerous trips I made, the good friends I spent my free time with. The last months have been as busy as usual, but more hectic and chaotic.

The last months I have been looking intensely for a new job in Tokyo, I was invited for several interviews, but so far nothing has come up. The job hunt will hopefully go smoother when I will actually be in the area from the beginning of August.

With the end of my contract in sight a lot of final work requests came pouring in, mainly for a final cooking class or a final speech on Belgium. This resulted in a record week of three cooking classes in two days and two evening presentations. Luckily I have five years of experience to fall back upon, so recipes were quickly chosen, preparations could be kept to a minimum. One of the most fun events the past months was a waffle class at a kindergarten for a bunch of 3-to-5-year-olds and their…dads. A special effort of the kindergarten to have Japanese fathers spend more time with their children, which for me was heartwarming to see. I’ve done some final interpretations in French and English, I did one last middle school visit, I presented a Belgian picture book to children at the newly opened Umi Mirai Library and during my last radio interview my four CIR colleagues moved me with their lovely messages on my behalf. The mayor of Kanazawa handed me a certificate of appreciation and a few articles were written about me in the local newspapers, as I am still the first Kanazawa City CIR who stayed five years!

After five years my desk is filled to the brim with files, books and brochures, and cleaning all that up and reorganizing my files for my successor is quite intense. But nothing compared with preparing to move out after five years… I am just amazed at how much stuff one gathers over the years! I regularly got rid of things that I don’t use, but still I will move out with four big boxes and three suitcases, a total of more than 140 kg! A large part of it consists of books and DVDs, but there’s a kimono set (proud to say that I passed my kimono test!), winter and summer clothes and especially a whole box with gifts I have received from friends in Kanazawa over the years. A lot of them I got at weddings, where it is custom to overload the guest with gifts as a return for the considerable amount of money that guest pays to attend the wedding. I also received some of them at funerals, where it is also a custom for the person who attends the funeral to offer some money, and part of that money comes back in the form of a gift certificate. My birthday was another occasion to receive presents, because in the midst of all preparations to leave, I actually turned 30! I treated myself on a final trip, this time to the lavender fields of Furano in beautiful and delicious Hokkaido.

But of course my going away is the ultimate reason to give me traditional gifts as to remember Kanazawa and the many friends I’ve made here. In fact I have been having farewell parties since June, but the last weeks of July I actually have one every day, no more need to cook myself. I am very grateful that I was able to develop such great working relations with all my colleagues at city hall and KIEF and my fellow JETs and to become close friends with many Japanese people as well. I am so lucky to have been part of the JET Programme and to have been able to make friends from all over the world. I will treasure those friendships forever and I hope that one day we will meet again, whether that will be in Japan, Belgium or somewhere else in the world. My wonderful friends and colleagues, I will miss you all and hope that you will stay in touch!!

Dear readers, thank you very much for having read my numerous reports. It was my pleasure to have shared my life in Japan with you through words and pictures. Please spread the word about the JET Programme, help promoting the beautiful city of Kanazawa and come visit Japan when you have the chance!

Sophie

 

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