what is your name?
My name is Elizabeth Nijdam.
are you from Elizabeth?
Ifm from Vancouver, Canada.
I like camping, skiing, hiking. I donft like
I like the outdoors a lot and I also like to
read and watch movies.
schools in Kanoya do you work at?
Kanoya all girls high school, Tasaki
elementary, Nishihara elementary,
Nishiharadai and Minami elementary school.
surprised you most about Kanoya when you
That it smells like farmland a lot.
Sometimes, when I first moved here, the
awful smell used to wake me up because I am
a very light sleeper.
Although now I am used to it and I donft
smell it at all which is a bit scary.
some of the differences between Japan and
What are some of the things that really
School life is really different. In Canada
we donft have ekyushokuf or any cleaning
time but we do have insulation. So when itfs
cold outside, itfs warm inside, when itfs
warm outside itfs cool inside. In Kanoya the
schools are very nice but in Kaogshima city
it is a different story. Many of the schools
have no air conditioning, no heating, and
all the windows are open. So in Kanoya you
are lucky, but not all Japanese schools are
as nice as Kanoyafs.
In Vancouver, where I live in Canada there
are lots of Asian people, so when I came to
Japan all of my friends back home asked me,
gdoesnft it feel so different (to Canada)?h
But for me in Vancouver, everyone is short
and we all eat Japanese food so itfs like
being in Chinatown or Richmond. So many
parts of Japan are familiar to me because I
started eating Japanese food when I was like
5-6. I never remembered learning how to use
you come to Kagoshima?
I came to Kagoshima in August 2007 and I
lived in Kiire city south of Kagoshima city.
But after a year I moved to Kanoya because
my husband lives here.
Ok next I
want to ask you about this movie project of
yours (Elizabeth recently won 1st prize in
an international mobile phone video
competition). Can you give us a brief
Ifm a German student; I studied German,
German literature and German film when I was
at university and there is a German cultural
organization called the Goethe Institute and
I was looking on their website and I saw a
window saying gMobile Phone Video
Competitionh so I thought, gI have some free
time and I have a mobile phoneh so I asked
my husband and some fellow teachers to help
me and I made a video about gesturing/ body
language. Many people say that body language
is the only international language so
everyone understands hand gestures right?
For example: eI want to eatf (pretends to
put food in her mouth), eI want to sleepf
(pretends to go to sleep) but this is not
always true, sometimes hand gestures are
confusing. Another example is in Japanese
when you say ewakaranaif you often wave your
hand in front of your face but in English
this action means esomething smellsf.
The video wasnft the best quality, so I
thought I would never win but they werenft
looking for quality they were looking for
good ideas and they liked my idea so they
You get a
free trip to Berlin right?
Yep a free trip to Berlin and 1000 euros for
a one minute video that I made on my cell
Oh and another interesting thing is that I
got married in Japan. I had a shinto wedding
and it was in the local newspaper. And I was
on TV, you know Sukkiri!! ? Itfs a morning
show, itfs from 8-10 every morning. For
Mikefs (Elizabethfs husband) birthday in
Tokyo I organzied a eninja dayf. We trained
to be ninjas.
run around Toyko dressed like ninjas?
No, we had a training session with real
ninjas. They were really cool, they changed
their names for the event and they had real
weaponary and apparently the ninja master,
whose face you could never see, helped train
the imperial body gaurds. It was very
interesting. Sukkiri did a special on
interesting tours for foreigners in tokyo so
they followed us around for a whole day ...
in the end we were only on tv for 2 minutes.
want to ask you about you about customs, for
example in Japan you canft stick your
chopsticks into your rice right?
Oh I learnt about that before I came to
Japan, it means death right? I was very
surprised about Japanese eating customs. The
eitadakimasuf before meals, the ehashi-oki
(chopstick rest)f, all of these rules like
no hands under the table when you eat. These
customs are very strange for me but Japanese
eating is very beautiful, itfs like a
ceremony even though it is just a meal,
everything in Japan is done beautifully and
with grace c except when they slurp noodles!
about your favourite place/shop/restaurant/
area in Kanoya?
I have never really been shopping in Kanoya
but my favourite restaurant is Pizza Shop
Rabbit. She (the owner) is so nice, itfs a
pizza delivery place thatfs close to Sun
Road. We order pizza from there and she
always knows my name, she knows where I
live, I just have to call her and tell what
pizzas I want and she says, gis that
have good pizza?
They have really good pizza. It is my
favourite restaurant. I love nature and
kind of places are we talking?
I really love that shrine on the beachc
Yeah itfs really beautiful. And I also love
Yeah the really beautiful pink and purple
flowers that are everywhere at the moment.
anything you would like to do while you are
still in Kanoya?
Well, I would like to get better at Japanese
so I am looking for a Japanese teacher.
I would also like to learn something
cultural but my husband and I are going back
to Canada in August so Ifm afraid I donft
have the time.
Interview by Nathan.
Because we donft work in the same office I
rarely get a chance to talk to the Kanoya
City ALTs. This interview was particularly
interesting because I got to hear about
Elizabethfs movie project. Sometimes we
think that hand gestures are an
international language but after watching
Elizabethfs movie, I have decided that it
might be a good idea to do some research
before going overseas.
Without even looking in her direction, they
came over to me with nervous looks on their
faces and said, gUm ... what should we say?h.
These were the first words that came out of my
two sonsf mouths when they met our home stay
guest Diana (an ALT from New Zealand).
We had practiced some simple greetings
beforehand, but when my sons actually met
Diana they both froze and were too shy to say
anything. Luckily Diana came over to us with a
big smile on her face and greeted us with some
Japanese that she had just learnt. After our
initial introduction we split up into our
cooking teams, made some traditional Japanese
dishes and then ate lunch together as a group.
Once lunch was finished we went to the main
hall to learn about various Japanese games and
There was a Japanese drumming demonstration
and we also tried Otedama, a Japanese juggling
game. The language barrier was no longer an
issue and everyone had a great time.
After taking Diana back to my house and
introducing her to family we went shopping at
the local supermarket. My sons and Diana
decided to try and find products that were
made in New Zealand. Other than the Kiwifruit
in the fruit section, they also found sweets
and wine that were made in her homeland. I had
heard that Diana liked beer so we headed to
the liquor section, although it wasnft as easy
as I thought it would be as I had really hard
time explaining the difference between ebeerf
and elow-malt beerf.
After our trip to the supermarket, we took
Diana to a Karate event that my eldest son was
scheduled to participate in. Diana thought all
of the elementary and junior high school
students looked gorgeous in their Karate
outfits and was especially pleased that she
was able to see the studentsf group
performance. We also took some photos with
Diana in front of some Japanese folding
screens (the venue also doubled as wedding
centre). Once again my family and I ran into
trouble when Diana asked us, gSo what is the
reason for this event?h The event was actually
an awards ceremony, but I didnft even know the
word for emedalf in English let alone the
reason why the participants were receiving
such rewards. Once again I had a difficult
time explaining what was happening.
The awards ceremony finished and we decided to
get some dinner at a local Tonkatsu restaurant
(Diana previously told us she loved tonkatsu).
We ran into problems again though, when I
asked her what type of tonkatsu she would like
because my Japanese/English dictionary didnft
have the words for ro-su (sirloin) or hire
(fillet) in it. I didnft really know what to
say but for some reason I uttered, gwhich do
you like, meat with fat or meat without fat?h
to which she replied, gwithout fat pleaseh. I
was relieved that she actually understood me!
Diana ate everything on her plate including
the decoration cabbage and after returning to
our house and having a bath she showed us
photos of her family as well as a video about
New Zealand. Both of my sons were used to her
by now and I heard them laughing together
loudly even when I wasnft in the room.
Our house rule on our days off is eget up at
whatever time you wake upf so we all had a
nice sleep in. For breakfast we had white
rice, miso soup and grilled fish. Diana smiled
and said, gI had a good nightfs sleeph as she
finished her meal. Once everyone was dressed
and ready to go we went next door to the
babyfs home where I work (The babyfs home is a
facility that looks after children who for
some reason or another can no longer live
together with their parents). For most of the
children this was the first time they had ever
interacted with someone from overseas. However
Dianafs nationality or the colour of her skin
didnft stop these kids from having a good time
Because Diana had only just arrived in Japan
we decided to take her sightseeing around
Kanoya city and the Oosumi area. First we
headed for Kirishimagaoka Park. Unfortunately
the roses were not yet in flower so we
strolled around the park slurping on rose
flavoured ice cream whilst talking about the
parkfs famous eRose festivalf and Japanese
Hanami (cherry blossom viewing). After playing
on the outdoor equipment for a while we went
to Kamikawa Waterfall park in Kinko city.
Diana seemed to be really happy to be
surrounded by nature. We went through the back
entrance past the small waterfall and then sat
down at the large waterfall while soaking up
the negative ions (and the splashes of
water!). Diana also had fun playing with my
sons in the river.
As I didnft want to make the same mistake as
the previous day, I refrained from even trying
to explain the difficult concept of Nagashi
Soumen (flowing noodles) and instead decide
that we should go back to Kanoya city for some
Ramen noodles. After finishing our late lunch
we took Diana back to our house for some group
photos, said our goodbyes and promised that we
would meet each other again.
The purpose of the Wahoo Japan event was to
allow foreign residents to experience everyday
life with a Japanese family and I think this
is precisely what Diana experienced during the
2 days that she spent with my family.
On the 20th of July 2008, The Kanoya
International Exchange Association co-hosted a
7 day in-country study program in conjunction
with the Kagoshima Prefecture International
Cooperation Youth Experience Program called
eLetfs Go to Laosf. The purpose of this
program was to allow youth from Kagoshima to
directly experience the work done by Japanese
volunteer groups overseas as well as deepening
international ties through global cooperation.
I talked to 2 of the students (Ms Atsumi
Utsuno and Ms Nina Sugimoto) from Kanoya
Central High School who participated in the
program and asked them about their thoughts on
Laos. Below are their answers.
Ok so what
was your first impression of Laos when you
The color of the sky was so clear and
Also unlike Japan, there were street stalls
and vendors everywhere.
previously studied Laos in schoolH
We didnft know anything about Laos because we
had never studied it at school. However we did
have two pre-departure workshops before we
language do they use in LaosH
Basically people from Laos speak in Lao. Some
junior high school students could speak
English; however there were also a lot of
students who couldnft because it is not a
compulsory subject in secondary schools. We
often communicated simply by pointing at words
in our Lao phrase books.
me a basic greeting in Lao.
In Lao the word for eGood Morningf, eHellof
and eGood Eveningf is exactly the same and is
pronounced eSaba ideef. Everyone is really
friendly and even people who didnft know us
would come up to us, hug us and say eSaba idee!f.
It was so much fun because people went out of
their way just to talk to us simply because we
your host family like in LaosH
They were very hospitable. They always made
sure we werenft feeling anxious by asking us
if we were ok. It was surprising how kind they
people were there in your host familyH
There were 7 people in my host family,
although some of my friendsf host families had
up to 11 members.
like a party everyday. Tell us about the food
I ate frog for the first time. They often
served frogs and ducks at the dinner table.
They also eat beetle in Laos, however I didnft
have the courage to try it.
Did any of
your friends try to eat beetleH
No, everyone was too scared!
What is the
staple food in LaosH
Sticky Rice. People in Laos pick up the sticky
rice with their hands and roll it into a ball.
Although it was the first time I tried eating
food without using chopsticks, it was a lot of
By going to
Laos what did you realize about your own
We realized that the water in Japan is very
clean. Even tap water in Laos is not safe for
We also realized that the facilities available
at schools and hospitals in Japan are more
Because the government (and people) in Laos
tend not to spend money on others, the roads
in both the affluent areas as well the areas
where we stayed were mostly made of dirt.
We also learnt that we were blessed here in
Japan because it is taken for granted that the
majority of people here will at least make it
to high school. In Laos it is difficult to
even be admitted to junior high.
Finally it became apparent that both our
transport and medical systems here in Japan
are highly advanced.
people of Laos.
They seem to do things at their own pace. A
party that we attended was supposed to start
at 5pm but didnft end up starting until 6:30.
People in Laos tend to regard time outside of
work hours as their eprivate timef and as a
result do not hurry to attend functions etc.
anything else you would like to add? Ms Sugimoto:
By going to Laos I learnt just how kind the
people there are. I hope that they can stay
that way. These days in Japan people donft
have the time to be kind to others because
they are always in a rush.
There are still areas in the southern district
that are polluted with landmines. This is
something that would never happen in Japan. I
became aware of the differences between our
two worlds and also learnt how frail Laosf
position is in the world when compared to
I would just like to add that I think we need
to solve the current economic problems facing
Laos. It is not a rarity in Laos for pregnant
mothers to give birth in the forest because
they cannot afford to go to hospital. In some
of the poorer areas it is at least 40kms to
the nearest hospital and many donft have any
means of transport.
We are so blessed here in Japan because we are
born into an environment were giving birth and
being born is so easy. The people of Laos
donft have this luxury and as a result tend to
be grateful simply for the fact that they are
I want the people everywhere to realize that
countries like Laos still exist within our
world and even though we may live in luxury in
our own respective countries there are still
those who not.
On the 27th of July 2008, 44 of us from the
Kanoya International Exchange Association (KIEA)
participated in the e2008 Kanoya Summer Dance
Festivalf. Although this was the last time
that former CIR Sandy Huang was able to
participate in this annual event, the
colourful KIEA group danced with extra
vitality and enthusiasm.
On the day of Kanoya Summer Festival (July 27th),
flyers are handed out, and the numbers on the
bottom are drawn for prizes around the world! The
winning numbers are as following:
We would like to ask those people who have the
flyer with numbers above to call first
(0994-43-2111 (Ext. 3394j) and come to the KIEA secretariat
(on 5th F of Kanoya City Hall, Civic Activity
Promotion Division) and pick up their mysterious
The deadline for picking up the prizes is August
29th, so we would like urge you to contact us and
come to pick up your prizes as soon as possible
before the time runs out!
The KIEA event gDiscovery: Vancouverh trip (7
days and 5 nights) was conducted from May 29th
June 4th, 2008. All the CIRs (Coordinator for
International Relations) in Kanoya had
conducted a trip to introduce their own
culture by leading a group of KIEA members to
their home countries. The current CIR Sandy
Huang is from Canada, and she brought 11 KIEA
members to Vancouver and introduced the beauty
that is Vancouver area.
During the trip, various tourist attractions
were introduced: Capilano Suspension Bridge,
UBC Museum of Anthropology, Stanley Park,
Victoriafs Butchart Garden, and Richmondfs
Steveston Village. However, the group also
enjoyed experiences which would never be
available with any regular guided tours. The
group members were able to observe what a
regular supermarket and farmersf markets in
Vancouver are like, and they also rode on
Vancouverfs translinks (bus, ferry, light-rail
train) all day with only a 2-dollar ticket.
Group members were able to enjoy the urban
vibe of Vancouver and also the easily
accessible natural beauty of the city.
After hearing this, would you like to join the
Cross-Cultural understanding trip guided by
the next CIR? Wefll be waiting for you!
The gPhaung Daw Seikh School in Burma, built
with proceeds from the Global Festa held by
Kanoya International Exchange Association in
October, 2006, was completed in October 2007.
The Phaung Daw Seik School sent a Certificate
of Appreciation to express their thanks to
In the Phaung Daw Seik Schook, there are 114
students learning new things everyday
We interviewed Mr. Ryozen Miyashita, the
representative in Mingala ba Jiyu Association,
about the damage of Burma from the Cyclone
Nargis earlier last month.
The damage from the cyclone was mostly
centralized in the delta area (southern
region). Since the gPhaung Daw Seikh School
which was established in October of 2007 with
funding from KIEA is located in the mountain
area (northern region), there was no
significant damage to the school from the
According to Mr. Miyashita, the current
condition of the affected areas was only
through reports from local people on site, as
a result, the actual condition of the damage
is still unknown.
Mingala ba Jiyu Association is conducting
disaster relief to the affected areas. The
donation received until October this year will
be used for engaging in reconstruction
assistance for the affected people in the
cyclone disaster. Matches and lighters are
especially needed on site, and Mr. Miyashita
is planning on purchasing these items and
bringing them directly to the affected areas
in person. Mr. Miyashita will be visiting
Burma in November, 2008.
The gGames around the WORLDh event was held in Renacity Kanoya 3F Fitness Hall on January 20th, 2008 (Sunday) from 2pm to 4pm.
The KIEA volunteer members, Kanoya CIRs and ALTs introduced games from 10 countries around the world. From the interesting janken game of Asian countries, gChegih of Korea, gChicken and Wormh game of Morocco, gFour Squareh of Canada, and gCapture the Flagh game of USA, the children and parents enjoyed the various games and experience a different side of cultures around the world. Finally, the eventfs highlight was the pinata game from Mexico in which children use a stick to hit the pinata until the contents come out. The pinata was made by Sandy herself, and many people couldnft guess exactly the shape of the gthingh (hee hee). Unfortunately, the pinata was cracked before everyone got a chance to give it a try. Many children who didnft get to whack the ugly pinata could only say booc (Who knew kids can be so strong!?)
In contrast to most of the cultural experience event, this event enables children to experience cultures from other countries through fun and games. Many children who came seemed to have enjoyed the event immensely as they kept saying that they need more time to play!