#31 Nagasaki International Association

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! I’m getting a little nervous over here with all this North Korea business in the news. I hope it calms down and gets back to normal icy relations soon. International relations is a tricky business, and I’m happy to have a job on the more light-hearted side of it.

This week I wanted to tell you about the Nagasaki International Association. The NIA is a public interest corporation, so it’s run with the support and funding of the prefectural government. It’s right down the street from the prefectural office on the way to my apartment. Its offices are on the first floor of this lovely building, which is also right next to the prefectural art museum.

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The NIA is supported in several different ways by the prefectural government, and one of those ways is that the prefectural Coordinators for International Relations (like me!) get sent there for one afternoon a month to help out. We translate documents, give advice on cultural activities they do, and try to help out however we can. Also, every week we have “CIRと話そう!” (which means “Talk with the CIR!”) where we set aside an hour to talk to anyone that wants to come to the building and chat with us. I think it was made to be an opportunity for normal people who don’t have much contact with foreigners to come in, chat with us, and just get a little face time with someone who comes from a different linguistic and cultural background. In my case, I think most people come because it’s an hour of free English practice, haha. Here’s the group that came this week:

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As you can tell, most people that come to it are retired. I think they have to be since it starts at 4pm on Wednesdays. The young guy beside me makes sure that he has Wednesdays off so that he can join us. He’s a regular and quite good at English. Many of these people have been studying English for decades so we always get to have nice conversations about all sorts of things. This week we talked about the cherry blossoms that were blooming at the time (they’ve almost all fallen now), and then we also discussed this conversation card.

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Almas bought a bunch of these cards for us to use when people come to my apartment to hang out. In the group pictured above, most people said that they couldn’t do without music. A couple of people said art. I said music as well. How do you guys feel?

I really like my days at the NIA because of these conversations. It feels like bona fide cultural exchange. A few weeks ago we had a really interesting conversation on お見合い (omiai) which is like arranged marriage, but not exactly. It’s very Japanese.

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