Hiroshima City International House Festival 2009
Broadening International Exchange in a Friendly Atmosphere



On November 1 (Sun), 2009, the International House Festival 2009 was held at the Hiroshima City International House. This is the main annual event of International House, and has as its aims to further exchange between Hiroshima City residents and foreign students and other non-Japanese living in Hiroshima, as well as providing foreign students with an opportunity to participate in the community. Around two thousand people participated (approximately 150 foreign students, 50 non-Japanese, and 1,800 Japanese citizens), which was lower than last year, due to the rainy weather on the day and the impact of the spreading swine flu that kept people away. Nonetheless it was a fun day for all involved. Sponsors: Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation International Affairs Department International House, Hiroshima Region International Student Organization Support and Exchange Council and Kojin District Council of Social Welfare.

  This was the ninth time that the festival has been held. As the number nine is pronounced like “Q” (“cue”) in Japanese, “Q” was selected as the theme of this year’s festival, in the hope that various questions would be asked during the exchange events, and that the event would achieve high quality content and quick sequence of events. Following on from last year, a Planning Committee was established by the resident foreign students, to ensure that the wishes of the foreign students were reflected in the festival, and eight committee meetings were held regarding the event items, methods of participation, publicity, implementation preparation work, etc. This resulted in a full festival program with a better balance of time allocation between the various festival events than last year.

Foreign students touring the Peace Museum at Hiroshima City Honkawa Elementary School

  The opening ceremony was held at the Exchange Lounge on the first floor at 10am. Ms. Yoko Nishimura, the Director of International House gave a speech, and the Chairperson of the Planning Committee, Suvannaphakdy Sithanonxay, made the opening statement. The festival then commenced in a relaxed atmosphere with a percussion performance by the Hiroshima City Harmony Wind Orchestra.

  In the area outside International House was the annual “National Specialty Cuisine World Food Stalls” event. Fourteen organizations from ten countries set up stalls (two of the stalls were set up in the Exchange Lounge), and despite the rain they were very popular, with the stalls competing with each other offering a great variety of national specialties (curry, steamed meat buns, Chinese dumplings in rice balls, Iranian cuisine, Thai-style ramen noodles, and more). However, unfortunately there were fewer participants overall compared with regular attendance at the Festival. The rain fell harder during the event, but the foreign students running the stalls continued to cook even as they got wet, and enjoyed themselves by exchanging food between the different stalls. As an environmental initiative, this year, too, we switched from plastic to paper food containers, and also worked to reduce the amount of garbage.

  In the hall on the second floor, the Japanese Speech Competition was held in the morning, with sixteen people from five countries participating, including those who regularly take the Japanese classes at the International House, and foreign students residing at the International House. There was even a participant who started crying while speaking of a hard experience at a part-time job. There are many city residents who look forward to this Speech Competition every year and there was such a good turnout that some people had to stand. In the afternoon, there was a mini-event held by seven groups of exchange students from five countries, where they performed folk dances from Thailand, Yunnan Province in China and Inner Mongolia, as well as a performance of the Japanese harp (koto) that they regularly practice and a TaiChi demonstration. The exchange students from Elizabeth University of Music Graduate School also excited the audience with a musical performance.

  At the Exchange Lounge on the first floor and the seminar rooms and foyer on the second floor, foreign students provided introductions to their home countries, in an event entitled, “WORLD EXPLORER”. This year, foreign students from twenty countries, as well as Hiroshima City Coordinators for International Relations, researchers and others, answered various questions as they mingled with citizens. There was also a stamp rally to collect signatures from the exchange students in their own languages, to encourage participants to speak with foreign students from as many countries as possible, and participants were guided around the venue effectively.

 
Members of the International House Choir demonstrate the results of their practice at the closing ceremony
  There were also the regular events of trying on Japanese Kimono or traditional dress of other countries, the free visa counseling for non-Japanese, an exhibition of the art works by foreign students majoring in art, and others.

  In addition, new events held this year included an exhibition of landscape and event photographs taken by exchange students and a section that was set up for making origami and eco-bags. The eco-bags made from old newspapers were especially popular among the Hiroshima citizens participating.
  At the closing ceremony held at 4pm in the hall on the second floor, there was a song performance by the International House Choir, which is made up of foreign student residents, as well as a performance of niko (Chinese string instrument) and piano by ‘HIDEHARU&KYOU’, who came from Tokyo, to close an enjoyable day. This year the foreign students were proactive in volunteering to help with preparation and cleaning up, to support the smooth operation of the festival. Please refer to http://www.hicat.ne.jp/home/ryugaku/ for details.

(Hiroshima City International House)

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e-mail: p-soumu@pcf.city.hiroshima.jp
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