The next iteration of International Relations Club’s (IRC) “Country Series” events got a special treat when thirteen students from Kobe Gakuin University in Japan visited to talk about their culture. The event was even larger than previous entries, with over 50 people present in room 004 of the Bultman Student Center. The event featured authentic food, fun games and fascinating presentations. The enthusiasm and interest garnered by the event has allowed IRC to end the year on a high-note. The event began shortly after 7 p.m. on Friday, with a game of “cheerleader” rock-paperscissors. After losing a round, the player gets behind the opponent who beat them and cheers them on. The game continues as the lines get longer and longer, battling for supremacy. The room became very loud, with many amusing moments as domestic students tried very hard to properly pronounce Japanese names.
After the games wrapped up, people took their seats as the Kobe Gakuin students stood up front to give an introduction. They are currently on a study abroad trip here in Holland, already having been state-side for two weeks. The entire duration of their study here will be four months. Each student introduced their name, grade, major, a fun fact and their favorite English word. All of the students in the group is a junior studying global communications. The fun facts they presented ranged from interesting to humorous, with one student playing a trumpet song using just her lips, and another mentioning she has three dogs. Some of their favorite English words and phrases were “buckle,” “may the Force be with you,” “awesome,” “workout,” and “good evening.” Their speaking skills varied, but there were remarkably few circumstances in which further interpretation was necessary.
Overall, communication was very succesful. Good communication skills remained on display as they talked about where they were from and compared it to the United States. As one may expect, they mentioned that our food portions are larger, that buffet-style is much less common in Japan and that karaoke clubs are depressingly rare in the states. However, they also caught the attention of the audience with some unusual observations. Japan’s vending machines are sometimes capable of dispensing warm cans for hot drinks, the US actually has more free Wi-Fi areas, and fireplaces are not architecturally commonplace in Japan the way they are here. Yamato Horiguchi commented that US citizens are very nice and that he has not had very many rude interactions thus far, saying, “I love Americans!” It is worth mentioning, however, that for most of these students it is their first time in the US, and they have only been to Holland (and Chicago, as of Saturday). After their presentation finished, Hope’s own Manna Sakon and Louis Berwanger gave a joint presentation on Japanese culture, having both a Japanese and American perspective together. Much of the presentation revolved around the stark difference in individualist and collectivist societies and how this impacts day-to-day interactions.
The intricacies of the language also fascinated listeners (for instance, Japanese always puts the verb at the end of the sentence and not the middle). Snacks were served at the end of the meeting, featuring Japanese candy, Miso soup, and sushi provided by Mizu Sushi. At the end of the day, domestic-students walked away with a better understanding of the amazing country of Japan, the study-abroad students gained friends who can teach them about the US, and IRC finished up another successful event.