Presentation by a non-Japanese Guest (July 18, 2021)

‘Talk by a foreign guest’  featuring Ms. Mary Popeo, Co-Founder of Peace Culture Village
(Sunday, July 18, 2021 13:30-15:30)

Fuchu International Relations Association (FIRA) hosted ‘Talk by a Foreign Guest’ as its first event of the year on July 18th at Kusunoki Plaza. Due to the situation where more COVID-19 cases have been reported, we took due precautions by limiting the number of participants to 15 and applying sanitization measures accordingly.

The guest speaker was Ms. Mary Popeo from Boston, MA, U.S.A., now residing in Hiroshima. She is a Co-Founder of Peace Culture Village (PCV), a nonprofit dedicated to creating sustainable peace culture and peace education. In her speech entitled “Hiroshima and Me”, she talked about her personal history, how she got involved in peace activities, founding PCV, her current activity base, and its initiatives, etc. for about one and a half hours. Ms. Popeo also asked questions to the participants so that the program would be interactive rather than one-way talk.

Ms. Popeo was raised in a Catholic family and majored in International Relations with a concentration in Asian Studies at Boston College, a Jesuit university. She grew up playing Japanese video games and watching Japanese anime that fascinated her and nurtured her strong interest in Japan in the course of time. This led her to travel to Nagasaki to do a research on the “Kakure Kirisitan” or Hidden Christians as a college sophomore. In Nagasaki, she learned about the atomic bombing of the city at the end of the war, and saw a rosary that had survived the blast, the same kind that she used to pray. This was the turning point that drove her to peace activities.

Ms. Popeo asked the participants such questions as “what is your favorite place in Hiroshima?”, “why did you decide to come to this event?”, “who do you admire and why?” and “how are you feeling after the presentation?” The 15 participants responded actively both in English and Japanese. Ms. Popeo herself named three Hiroshima A-Bomb survivors as people she admired. She said that she was inspired and moved by what one of the survivors told her: “I can’t talk about peace if I continue to hold hatred.”

Ms. Popeo emphasized the importance of peace education and called herself a peace educator, not a peace activist any longer. Now she focuses on developing various peace programs by employing her skills and knowledge on IT technology to educate the youth and to bring up leaders in the next generation. She also pointed out two key concepts – “There are always multiple reasonable perspectives on any given issue” and “There is no single correct answer” – that she wants the youth to learn. As she said this, she herself appeared to be young and energetic leader who hold strong belief. FIRA thanks Ms. Popeo for the wonderful presentation and the participants for engaging themselves in the interaction – it all contributed to make this program a big success.

Presentation by a non-Japanese Guest (March 7, 2021)

All previous events had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since infection cases were on the decline, we were able to hold the March 7 event which was the first and last one in the 2020 fiscal year.
We welcomed Mr. Gavin Bingë as a guest speaker. He comes from Johannesburg, South Africa and is teaching English as a lecturer at Akifuchu High School. The title of his presentation was “South Africa and Japan: Similarities and Differences”.
The presenter mentioned seasons, daily life, clothes, sports, animals and languages by comparing South Africa and Japan. He showed us some typical South African animals such as meerkats and springboks and stressed the importance of wildlife protection. He added that visitors can touch lion cubs or dine with giraffe in some locations. As for languages, he said that South Africa is a multiethnic and multilingual country and that there are eleven official languages.Then, he gave us some examples of Afrikaans and other official languages.
According to Mr. Bingë’s explanation, the social problems South Africa faces are poverty and crime. Because most people are poor, they cannot receive adequate medical care. Poverty and crime also leads to short average life expectancy in the country.
The speaker dealt with Mr. Elon Musk, Mr. Nelson Mandela and three Japan national team players for the 2019 Rugby World Cup who were Wimpie van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné and Matsushima Kotaro. Mr. Mandela’s words, “Education is the most powerful weapon”, which were very impressive.
The audience listened attentively to Mr. Bingë’s interesting presentation and it was a great opportunity to learn about South Africa.

The Annual Excursion in the 1st year of Reiwa

This year’s excursion was, again, so popular that we had to close application process early. A total of 85 people shared two buses and headed for Miyoshi area.

The first stop was “Hirata Tourist Farm” where apple-picking was planned. Because of the typhoon that hit the area earlier, it was unfortunate that there were not enough apples left on the trees to enjoy picking them. However, the farm instead offered us plenty of apples, expensive Shine Muscat and persimmon at All-you-can-eat deals, and I ate too much Shine Muscat that was so delicious. I even bought lots of fruits at a very good deal to take home. The lunch at Kimita Onsen was also very good and I enjoyed it even though my stomach was full of apples and grapes. There, we all enjoyed going to the hot spring or visiting the nearby art museum.

At “Miyoshi Mononoke Museum”, there was a yokai (imaginary monsters) amusement park created by “Team Lab”, an extremely popular digital art group known for its state-of-art technology. Among others, we enjoyed coloring the yokai images and scanning them. The images appear on the projector on the wall with a three-dimensional movement, which was enjoyable for both children and adults. Speaking of Miyoshi, we cannot forget the wine and we visited the Miyoshi Winery like last time. I enjoyed various wine tastings, ate Muscat-flavored soft cream, and bought a lot of souvenirs here as well.

On the return bus, we played the bingo game getting all excited each time a number was read out. After all, it was a very good excursion blessed with the wonderful weather and no accident.

“Let’s play in English!” 2019 (October 19)

On October 19th (Sat), we held an event for elementary school students, “Let’s play in English!” at the small hall of Kusunoki Plaza. 14 elementary school students and their sisters and brothers joined the event.

After played with our assistants (Ms.Tanaka, Ms.Asakura, Ms.Hanashige and Ms.Isomura) with easy English songs and picture book as a warm up exercise , the participants had a 50 minutes lesson with Mr.Jamie Graham Elliot from England.

They learned about Halloween words, color, ABC phonics and facial parts in English. They enjoyed making a funny face with facial parts puzzles and playing bingo games using English The children looked a little bit nervous at first, but they gradually became active and they had a lot of fun in English.

After the lesson , we went an authentic trick or treating , which was a BIG fun . The partici pants knocked the door and said “Trick or Treat one by one, and got a snack from our well costumed staffs. After that, we went back to the hall and got another more treats from our staffs at the 4 corners of the room. Every child looked so happy with a trick or treat bag full of snacks.

It was surprising that every participant put on very wonderful and unique costumes, such as witches, black cats, vampires, cowboys, princesses, and other favorite characters. It seems Halloween is becoming more and more popular in Japan. We are so happy to have seen cheerful cute smiles of the participant children. We hope this event will be a good opportunity for them to understand foreign culture and get more familiar with English.

The 12th International Friendship Table Tennis Competition

The event was held in the large arena of Kusunoki Plaza, the AkiFuchu Lifelong Learning Center, on August 25. The participants were 17 foreigners and 16 Japanese. The former included 15 Vietnamese and 2 Chinese people. The latter included 8 members from the Fuchu-cho Table Tennis Association, 6 table tennis club members from Fuchou Junior High School, and 2 volunteers. Each foreigner paired up with a Japanese to form 16 pairs.
In this competition, the league game was arranged and each pair played 5 matches. 8 judges from the table tennis association, 8 table tennis club members from the junior high school, two interpreters, and our 10 staff members helped the event run the event smoothly as planned.
Most Vietnamese participants had never played table tennis and Japanese pair partners kindly showed them how to swing their rackets and taught them the basic rules. The participants played table tennis in a friendly atmosphere. Because four teams had the same winning points, they advanced to the semifinals. Then the final was held.
The players praised each other’s good fight regardless of whether they won or lost. They had a great time in this international sporting event.

Fuchu Elementary School 4th Grade

Fuchu Elementary School 4th Grade – Second Term Comprehensive Class about Vietnam (Sept.18 & 25, 2019)

Fuchu Elementary School 4th Grade (137 pupils) was to learn about Vietnam in second term comprehensive class and Fuchu International Relations Association was requested to send guest teachers for the class.

Ms.Huyen, Ms.Huong & Ms.Phan, who are from Vietnam and members of the Association, lectured for the class in the 5th period of Sept. 18 and the 3rd and 4th period of Sept 25.

On Sept. 18, they introduced Vietnamese climate, housing, food, clothing and traditional culture by showing various photographs through projector.

Children listened with enthusiastic notetaking and also learned some simple greetings and conversation. They quickly mastered them and exchanged greetings in Vietnamese.

On Sept. 25, Vietnamese play was introduced in gymnasium. Children eagerly enjoyed playing 3 games, which are “Da Cau”, “Bamboo dance” and “Cat & mouse chasing one another”

Now that some pupils from Vietnam attend Fuchu Elementary School, the class gave a good opportunity to children to feel familiar with Vietnam and deepen mutual understanding.  

Presentation by a non-Japanese Guest (July 21, 2019)

We welcomed Mr. Jonathan Fisher as a guest speaker on July 21, 2019. He comes from Ashville, North Carolina and is teaching English as a lecturer at Akifuchu High School. The title of his presentation was “A Trip to Appalachia.”

Before getting into the main issue, he gave his self-introduction. He has “many hobbies”and has loved hiking and camping since he was a child. He was very active as a Boy Scouts member. He tries to go hiking or camping if there is time. He talked about his experiences on Mt Fuji, Yakushima, Miyajima, Mt Noro, and so on.

Returning to the topic, the presenter showed the states Appalachia covers, using a few maps. Appalachia stretches from New York to Alabama and Georgia, but in his presentation he described the Appalachia he knows near his home town. He explained the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and so on. Pictures on the slides showed a series of beautiful scenes. He also introduced the Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the USA.

The speaker mentioned the relation between settlers and Native Americans. The Cherokee lived in an area of the Southeastern United States now covered by Appalachia. But when the Indian Removal Act was enacted, most Cherokee people were forced to leave their homes in the 1830s. Then he played the folk music of Appalachia on the violin. The audience was fascinated by his performance.

Mr. Fisher’s presentation provided a precious opportunity for us to know the culture and history of Appalachia we are not familiar with. Through this opportunity, we have come to want to learn more about Appalachia.

Cultural Exchange Party ( May 26, 2019 )

A cultural exchange party hosted by this association was held in the Aki Fuchu Chamber of Commerce on May 26. Luckily, we had wonderful weather. The number of participants was 73 including 31 people from China, Vietnam, Laos, and the United States.

At the beginning of the party, the participants from other countries gave their self-introductions and we played several games to break the ice. Then we made a toast. Many potluck dishes from different countries were set on the tables. While we enjoyed the food, we had many lively conversations.

Several people from China, Vietnam, and Laos wore their traditional clothes and had a lot of fun taking some pictures of each other.

This year’s much-awaited attractions were Vietnamese songs by the Vietnamese participants and Japanese dancing. We had an opportunity to listen to unfamiliar Vietnamese songs about encounters with people and farewell and were fascinated by these people’s beautiful singing voices. Under a dancing master’s instruction all participants danced to Japanese songs: two Japanese popular songs and a Japanese folk song.

We had a lottery session as usual and people who got prizes were extremely happy. We had lively conversations with each other in a friendly atmosphere. The party was a great success.

The 28th General Meeting ( May 11, 2019 )

The 28th General Meeting ( May 11, 2019 )

The general meeting was held at the conference room on the second floor of Fuchu Community Center. Many honorable guests attended the meeting and Mr. Kanemitu from Town Hall gave an address on behalf of Mayor Sato Nobuharu.

Three bills, which were Fiscal Year 2018 Business and Settlement Reports, Fiscal Year 2019 Business and Budget Plans, and Election of Officers were unanimously approved.

This association has been engaged in international exchange programs for about 30 years since it was established in 1991, and has made efforts to promote multicultural coexistence in this town. Since the Reiwa Era has begun, the number of foreign residents has increased. When we work on various issues the residents will face, we need closer coordination with the people concerned.

The Self-Government Promotion Section was put in charge of international exchange this April. In order to strengthen coordination between the section and our organization, we asked for its support and cooperation.

We intend to work harder to develop our activities through closer coordination of the people concerned. We sincerely appreciate the cooperation of our members. We are also deeply grateful to the Mayor of Fuchu-cho and the other related parties at Town Hall

After School Children’s Club (2019 Vietnam)

「International Exchange Class
at After School Children’s Club

Ms. Huyen & Ms. Huong, who are from Vietnam and members of Fuchu International Relations Association, lectured for “International exchange class” of “After school children’s club promotion project”. The project is held by Social Education Division in Fuchu Town Board of Education.

Every Wednesday from Feb. 6 through Mar. 6 at after-school hours, they visited 5 elementary schools in town and gave lectures to approx. 20 pupils about their home country Vietnam for about one hour.

They introduced Vietnam by showing various photographs through projector. Children listened with great interest about landscapes, culture and language, which are different from Japan. They also learned some greetings in Vietnamese.

After the lecture they learned how to play Da Cau, which is Vietnamese game, and enjoyed themselves playing the game together.

All of us really felt the importance of knowing different cultures at an early stage of childhood with no preconception.