Skip to content

Opening Ceremony

Library / Multimedia HallSo the 2009-2010 school year opening ceremony was Thursday afternoon/evening. It was held in the Multimedia Hall in the library building that I mentioned in my last post. To the left is a picture of that building taken from the 4th floor of the CIE (Center for International Education) building.

 Yoshitaka TanimotoThere were several speeches given. The first of which was by Yoshitaka Tanimoto, president of Kansai Gaidai University. Unfortunately, I don’t have the best camera, so you can’t really make out his face in this photo.

Christopher Nicholas ReesNext was a speech by Christopher Nicholas Rees, Consul-General of the Consulate-General of Australia for the Osaka area.

David TullochThen a speech by David Tulloch, Consul of the Consulate General of the USA for the Osaka-Kobe area.

Dr. Mark HollsteinThen a speech by Dr. Mark Hollstein, associate professor of Political Science, as a representative of the Asian Studies Program faculty.

Professor Yoshiko ShikauraThen a speech by Professor Yoshiko Shikaura, head of the Japanese language department. Her speech was quite amusing. She talked to us completely in Japanese, and I actually understood most of what she was saying. I was quite happy about that. Seems most of the students could understand her, as alot of us laughed at the jokes she was making.

Danielle Kristin LagmanThen a speech by Danielle Kristin Lagman, as a representative of the incoming international students. She’s from America, but is studying abroad at Saint Louis University in Spain, and then is doing an exchange from there to here at Kansai Gaidai.

Hiroshi KagiyamaThen a speech by Hiroshi Kagiyama, as a representative of the Japanese students here at Kansai Gaidai. He wishes to become a famous comedian and bring the Japanese comedy art of manzai to English-speaking audiences.

There were a couple of good stories told during the opening ceremonies, but my memory fails me as to who told which one, so I’ll just present them here. I believe one of them was by the US Consul, David Tulloch, and the other was by Dr. Hollstein.

The one that sticks out foremost in my mind is a story of being a young foreigner in Japan many years ago, and not having a good grasp on the language yet. I believe he was here as an English teacher on the JET program, if I remember correctly. He had boarded a train that didn’t stop at the station where he needed to get off, so he got off at the next station, hoping to board a train going the other direction, back to the station he did need to stop at.

While at the station he noticed a situation where there was a couple off to the side that appeared to him at first to be having a “lovers spat” of some kind. It was an older man and a young woman. As things progressed however, he observed that the old man was touching her…. inappropriately and she tried several times to get away from him, but he kept following her and resuming his…. activities. As he watched, he felt more and more that this wasn’t a lover’s spat, but something much worse. I should mention that this entire time, all the other people waiting for the train were ignoring these happenings, like they didn’t exist.

Feeling like he must do something, but not knowing what to say, he decided to just interpose himself between the young woman and the old man. He basically blocked the old man’s way, moving left and right as the old man did, to keep him away from the young woman. When the train arrived, he and the other waiting passengers, including that young woman, got on the train, while the old man stayed behind at the station. The young woman, however, did not say anything to him at all, and he feared he had done something wrong.

He went to one of his colleagues who spoke English, and was basically his “cultural advisor,” explained what happened, and asked him if he did something wrong. The colleague called over a couple of the women who worked there and explained the situation to them. He was told that he did the right thing, but the woman was too embarassed to thank him or really say anything.

The point of that story was that even if you don’t have a good command of the language, you have observation and critical thinking skills that will still help you in navigating this society. You also can ask for help from someone who is more familiar with the culture after the fact, like the gentleman did in this story.

The other story that was told was of the speaker’s first interaction with a Japanese person. On the plane to Japan, there was a Japanese couple sitting in their seats underneath where the speaker was trying to put his overstuffed duffel bag into the overhead bin. He lost control of the bag and it fell onto the Japanese man’s head. He was searching for the right thing to say from his one semester (IIRC) of Japanese, and out came, “Oyasumi nasai.” (Which translates to “good night” in English.)

Given that the man was just hit on the head, that was kinda funny, but not what he meant to say. He meant to say, “Gomen nasai,” which is “I’m sorry.” Still, the fact that he even tried to use the language helped break the ice, and the old man helped him put away his bag.

This seemed to be the point of most of these speeches. Don’t be afraid to screw up, because you will. Noone expects you to be perfect. Learn from your mistakes and move on. The more mistakes you make, the more you try, the better you will become. Don’t fear failure, embrace it and learn from it.

… Hopefully I’ll be able to do that. ^^;


  1. D.K. Lagman

    Hey there!
    I hope you have been enjoying your time in Japan so far! Can you believe that the semester is already halfway through?



    Posted on 24-Oct-09 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  2. Stephen

    So far, yeah. Though I really need to get out and see more. Spending too much time cooped up in my room. ;)
    As for the semester already being halfway over… my how time flies, doesn’t it? ^^; The time goes by so quickly, just going to classes every day. Day by day, the time just slips by.

    Posted on 24-Oct-09 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *