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Class Report 2012

 

Class Report 25: December 20th, 2012

 
Fourteen of us including 4 new members, the biggest number ever, got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
After Language Exchange session where a member from Israel earnestly shared story about his country which was very new and informative to other members, we moved on to this year’s last English discussion session.
 
Each member looked back on their personal achievement during 2012, and shared it with the group. Stepping up their business, meeting so many new friends thanks to Meetup.com, entering a new stage in their life….the story was as different as one’s fingerprints.
 
The more diversity in members, the more variety of ideas and values we can enjoy. This session, with so many varieties of members, was the perfect one to conclude ICT’s activities in 2012.
 
Thank you for your support to our community throughout this year. We will see you in January!!
 
 

Class Report 24: December 13th, 2012

 
Four members got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
We talked about Japanized Christmas celebration, like a fancy dinner date between lovers on Christmas Eve, standing in line to get KFCs combo meal specially designed for a Christmas party, ordering luxurious Christmas cake made by a famous patissier.
 
Meanwhile, few people seem to have a family reunion, go to church on Christmas Day and exchange Christmas cards, which would form a large part of Christmas in Western countries.
 
We realized all of them are good example of how we Japanese take just some parts of Western culture and customize it so that it fits in our society.
 
 

 

Class Report 23: December 6th, 2012

 
The session on December 6th was cancelled due to administrative reason.

 
Please come join us in the next session on December 13th Thursday at Sakura Cafe Jimbocho!
 
 

Class Report 22: November 28th, 2012

 
As many as eleven including two new members met up at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 
After Language Exchange session, we moved on to English discussion where we talked about advantages/disadvantages of marital relationships, role-sharing between men and women, having the choice for a couple not getting married, and how to find a right person etc…

 
Most of the male members didn’t like the idea of Japanese typical husbands who hand over their entire monthly salaries to their wives and are given small amount of pocket money in return, despite working hard as a breadwinner.

 
For some members, marriage is too huge risk to take as it’s difficult to tell if you can continue happy relationship with your partner for decades, then came up with funny concept of “10 levels in marriage”, where a couple will be moving up the “marriage ladder” (which you can step down on the way) by achieving certain amount of requirements in each level until they get to level 10, which finally shows you are happily-married couple!

 
Although this doesn’t seem to happen in reality, each member’s opinion was so real enough to reveal their personality!
 
 

 

Class Report 21: November 20th, 2012

 
Six members got together at Sakura Café Jimbocho.

We talked about whatever came to our mind from the word “winter”, like winter sports, favorite thermal goods, how to dress in winter, taking a hot bath…

 

As we were an eclectic mix of people (three females and three men: One from California, one has a wife from northern Japan Aomori, one is from warmer Shikoku, and three ex-New Yorkers), it was interesting to see how differently each member feels about winter.

 

 

Some from warmer area with no snow are always excited to see snow in Tokyo, but others who had lived in New York was a little bit fed up with snow that sometimes paralyzes its city function.

Diversity in a group always makes discussion about everyday issues special!

 
 
 

Class Report 20: November 14th, 2012

 
Five of us including one new member met up at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
We enjoyed full two hours of discussion solely about snacks and sweets!
We had pictures of Japanese long-selling snacks of all kinds which brought back memories of our childhood, and each member shared their childhood stories related to snack time.
 
Some members enjoyed only a certain amount of snacks decided by their parents, and some others were lucky enough to have homemade sweets every day and rarely ate snacks off the shelf.
 
Even though situation for snack time was somewhat different for each member, their excitement on looking at snack pictures apparently told that snack time was a special “ritual” for everyone in their childhood, or even as an adult!
 
 
 

Class Report 19: November 8th, 2012

 
Six of us including two new members met up at Sakura Café Jimbocho.
 
After an hour of free discussion in Japanese, we moved on to English conversation about autumn in Japan.
 
We had pictures that symbolize Japanese autumn events.

Autumn leaves, moon-viewing, the Seven-Five-Three festival, and sports festival…we were impressed that we have so many entertaining events which bring us a sense of the season!

 
As we had a Korean new member, we explained him what each event like and found out which cultural event we do or don’t have in common. It’s always great to have members from different culture!

 

 
 

Class Report 18: November 1st, 2012

 
Six of us including two new members got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
We talked about social connection amid growing concern over the negative influence of digital gadgets or social networking services on face-to-face relationships.
 
Some members believed high-tech tools like mobile phone and portable video game machine have reduced conversation with family or friends, while some others thought that kind of lack of communication comes from each person’s personality and have started long before the digital gadgets came out.
 
Thanks to the new members, one with considerable life experience and the other who is a young New Yorker, we had much more differences in each one’s opinion which brought excitement to the discussion!
 
 
 

Class Report 17: October 25th, 2012

 
Six members met up at Sakura Café Jimbocho.

 

After an hour of Japanese-English language exchange, we moved on to this week’s topic.

 

With reference to Halloween trivia cards presented on the table, we learned some new facts on Halloween and talked about whatever came out on our minds about this annual event.

 

Members who have spent part of their lives in California or New York shared their experiences on Halloween there, and were surprised to find out that Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday after Christmas in the US.

 

As Halloween is a great excuse to throw a party, we also talked about partying and drinking, which was a nice aside to reveal each member’s personality.

 

 

Class Report 16: October 17th, 2012

 

Four members got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 

We talked about various kinds of situations where we cry including each member’s personal experiences, which revealed the differences of each one’s sensitivity.

 

Some members are easier to be moved to tears by movies or TV dramas, while others rarely cry especially in front of public.

 

Happy tears, sad tears, regretful rears, crying in sympathy…we have so many forms of tears, and realized they are one of the important ways of showing our emotions.

 

Class Report 15: October 12th, 2012

 
Seven of us including two new members met up at Sakura Café Jimbocho.

 

As usual, we started with Language Exchange where a non-Japanese member did a good job talking about whatever in his mind in Japanese, with occasional assistance by Japanese members.

 

In the English discussion part, we talked about Japanese proverbs.

Each member picked up a card with a Japanese proverb and its English translation printed on it, and explained what it means, their take on it, and their experiences related to the proverb.

 

Some proverbs like “Killing two birds with one stone” were universal and familiar for everyone, and others like “He who knows most speaks least” seemed more like Japanese own value and needed some more explanation for non-Japanese members.

But it was fun to find out many of the proverbs do exist in other cultures, even though the way putting those ideas into words looks so different!

 

 

 

Class Report 14: October 5th, 2012

 

Eleven of us including three new members got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 

After some Japanese conversation, we moved on to the discussion part where we talked about the impacts of Internet on our society.

 

Reduced face-to-face relationships, lack of profound knowledge which is more likely cultivated through books or newspapers, identity theft, adverse effects on our physical and emotional health…despite all the bad possible influences, we eventually like Internet and found ourselves totally relying on it to the point where we can’t live without it.

 

So far, we believe that we somehow manage to balance the usability and bad effects of Internet, but we always have to be on the watch for what comes next!

 

 

Class Report 13: September 27th, 2012

 
Seven of us including one new member got together at Sakura Cafe Jimbocho.

 

It’s our first time to have two kinds of sessions (Language Exchange and English discussion) in one class.

 

In the Language Exchange part, we had an hour of casual conversation in Japanese, where a non-Japanese member showed his skill of what he called “survival Japanese”, which actually was very good.

 

Japanese members sometimes gave him an advice to make his Japanese sound more natural, which was also a good practice for Japanese members to clearly explain something in English.

 

In the English discussion part, we talked about Japanese customs, manners, and gestures.

We had a quiz-style session using picture cards with various kinds of gestures printed on them and each member randomly picked up one card to explain what it meant.

 

For a non-Japanese member who has been in Japan for two years, most of them are not so hard to understand, but some others are much harder even for Japanese members too.

We are impressed that a simple topic like this can be a subject for 2-hour long conversation when we have mixed group of people with different backgrounds!

 

 

 

Class Report 12: September 19th, 2012

 

Seven of us including one new member met up at Sakura Cafe Hatagaya.

 
We talked about how to get along with others, interweaving each member’s personal experiences in their school and daily lives.
 
It’s notable that most of Japanese female members acquired some techniques to survive in “a circle of friends” in their school days.
 
Thanks to the surging social networking sites, meeting new people is becoming easier, but some members pointed out this kind of relationships tend to be shallow, which gave us an opportunity to think about what is good relationship in this digital and global age.
 
 
 

Class Report 11: September 11th, 2012

 
Eleven of us got together at Sakura Cafe Jimbocho.

 

As many as 6 new members with various cultures and backgrounds stopped by after knowing about ICT on Meetup.com!

 

We started with each one’s self-introduction and moved on to a free discussion where any topic was welcome and helpful to better understand everyone’s personality.

 

It was our first time not to pick up any specific topic in a session, but we never run out of subjects thanks to energetic new members and a variety of people.

 

We are excited to meet more new people and expand cross-cultural understanding which is one of the most important parts of ICT!

 

 

 

Class Report 10: September 3rd, 2012

 

The class on September 3rd was cancelled due to an administrative reason.

 

See you in the next class on September 11th Tuesday at Sakura Cafe Jimbocho!

 

 

Class Report 9: August 30th, 2012

 

Four of us got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 

Each member brought some instruction manuals written in English and went them over, and learned some words and expressions which are typical in written English but not that conversational, like “adhesive” (its conversational counterpart is “sticky”) or “inflate” (instead of “blow up”).

 

After that, we all got to explain how to use products like a fan heater or a blender in our own words without looking up instructions, which is the most important and exciting part of the class!

 

 

 

 

Class Report 8: August 23rd, 2012

 

Nine of us including two new members met up at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

We were excited to have the very first non-Japanese member who stopped by after finding out about ICT on the web!

 

We talked about Japanese seasonal / traditional events. Each member was randomly distributed a card with an event name printed on front and some hints on the back, and explained about it in English, which we found more difficult than expected. Coming-of-Age Day, Emperor’s birthday, Obon, rainy season etc...even though we’ve been familiar with those events since we were small, we learned some new facts about them through the class.

 

Thanks to having a member with different culture, our conversation was extended to higher dimension where we learned similarities and differences in our daily lives and common practices!

 

 

 

Class Report 7: August 16th, 2012

 
Seven of us including two new members met up at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 

Based on the video speech titled “The Shared Experience of Absurdity” by Charlie Todd (creator of Improv Everywhere) we saw before the class, we talked about:

 

*Why did this movement become so huge in New York?

*How would we react if we encounter such a performance here in Tokyo? etc.

 
And came to a conclusion that New Yorkers know how to enjoy their lives and more receptive, while we Japanese (other than Osaka people) are sometimes too conservative and introverted to fully enjoy street performances like this. But we believe there’s no right or wrong about each ethnic group’s characteristics, and it’s important to accept and value the differences.
 
 
 

Class Report 6: August 9th, 2012

 
Seven of us including one new member got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

 
We enjoyed learning English words relating to Olympic in a quiz style!
Some words like “high jump” and “hummer throw” were easy-to-guess, but others like “javelin throw”, “pole vault” were beyond our imagination…

 
It was the first time to do quiz in our class, which turned out to be fun and good hands-on learning activity compared to simply building knowledge through textbooks!
 
 
 
 

Class Report 5: August 1st, 2012

 
Seven of us including one new member (glad that we have new members every week!) met up at Sakura Café Hatagaya.

We went over Gary Larson’s famous cartoon “The Far Side” to see the humor and mess...
ages implied in it.


Most of the cartoons are one-framed but they are so powerful and sometimes dark, usually pointing out disgraceful human practices.
Some of them required a certain amount of knowledge for American history/social background which was too hard to get as Japanese, but we somehow got as many as 27 cartoons by putting each one’s idea all together, which showed us how effective group-brainstorming is!
 
 
 

Class Report 4: July 24th, 2012

 
Seven of us including one new member and a special guest Mr. Ron Nicolaysen
visiting from New York got together at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
Our three-hour conversation covered a wide range of topics ...
from weather issues (as originally planned) to Ron’s impression on Japan.

Thanks to Ron who intently showed us “real” and “live” English
which is actually used in New York, we again realized how important to have native English speakers in our community.

We are looking forward to seeing more native speakers who would love to socialize with our members!!
 
 
 

Class Report 3: July 17th, 2012

 
We’re back to our very first meeting site, Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
Seven of us discussed about stereotypes we generally have for certain ethnic groups, and considered if they are true or not, by sharing each one’s experiences with their foreign friends.
 
Thanks to our experiences to have lived in New York, we had lots of stories with various kinds of people.
 
We had two new members who came straight from their work, which we greatly appreciated and lifted ICT organizer’s spirit so that it could better serve professionals like them who are seeking for the place to make the most of their English skills!
 
 
 
 

Class Report 2: July 10th, 2012

 
We had the second English-speaking session at Sakura Café Jimbocho.
 
Five of us discussed about the differences between Japan and America which they have learned by living in those two countries.
The conversation ranged from the ambiguity of Japanese language to the differences of restroom functions!
 
Thanks to the two new energetic members, discussion went on for almost 3 hours with full of laughter, which is the good example of what the diversity brings to the community.
We’d always love to see new members who would bring some fresh air!
 
 
  

Class Report 1: July 3rd, 2012

 
We had our very first English conversation session at Sakura Café Hatagaya.
 
Four members who have lived in New York got together to discuss about wide variety of topics
related their food experience in New York such as:

Favorite dining spots in New York.
Good / bad services they experiences in dining at New York restaurants.
American food surprisingly tastier than they had imagined.
 
Discussion kept going for 2 hours without any interruption,
which was a great start as a newly-built community!
 


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