Friday, February 26, 2010

International Cultural Exchange Get-Together

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長岡発→世界行!ふみだそう新しい世界 (From Nagaoka to the World! - Step Forward to the New World)
This is one of the last events related to international cultural exchange that I attended during my time in Nagaoka.
「第7回国際交流の集い」, or the "7th International Cultural Exchange Get-Together" was organised by Nagaoka City International Cultural Exchange Organisation last Friday. It was first held seven years ago, with the aim to make the event as a place for its members and the city people to meet, to foster better relationship and to feel closer to the world, as well as to have the people to understand better about the activities of the association.
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The event was held at the Shirotori Hall of New Otani Hotel Nagaoka.
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The ticket with the number for the lucky draw. A double digits of four, damn unlucky-lor haha!
On the night, there were more than 250 people from 17 different countries who attended the gathering. Most of them come from Asian countries, especially South East Asian countries. I was joined by the group of Japanese lecturers and students from my school, who are visiting Australia next month, as well as a several other Malaysian friends.
Our group was so big, that we occupied three tables in the banquet hall. At another far corner, we saw a group of Malaysians who were students and their families from Nagaoka University of Technology.
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North wing of the hall.
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South wing of the hall.
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Food wing in the middle of the hall.
The event started with speeches by several big people, in which I didn't really pay attention to. I used up the time to do something else, i.e playing around with my camera instead haha! Well, to be honest, it was quite boring, and I saw most people in the hall weren't really interested to listen to them talking in front.
I am sure most of us were just waiting for the cue to attack the food haha!
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One of the representatives from American Airlines who gives a speech about Nagaoka's sister city, Fort Worth in Texas.
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Joann and Sayaka showing off some PDA (not that computer-related PDA, but this one) in front of so many people haha wtf!
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Atiqah and Carine, two of my juniors.
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The table on the left are the Chinese, while the ones on the right are Indonesians.
All this while, i thought when it comes to food, especially free-flow of food, nobody will beat Malaysians' kiasu-ness. But never did it cross my mind that Japanese can be as kiasu as Malaysians too. In fact, some of them were even worse than most Malaysians. Once they gave the cue to start eating, in just a matter of a couple of seconds, the food table was packed with humans.
It's like once they said, "Please help yourself", jeng jeng jeng, everyone just appeared in front of the food table haha!
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Kanpai
session, and you know what's next...
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Food attack haha!
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That huge bowl is filled with soy-based broth for the soba.
The worse part is that, some golden-aged Japanese aunties just simply cut the queue and stuck their bodies in between us, filled their plates with as much food as they could, and then walked away, as if nothing happened! What the fish, right? They think they are old, weak, and frail, but that doesn't permit them to cut queue, just like that, right? I hope I won't be like them, fifty years from now haha!
While everyone were enjoying the food, they had performances from volunteers, mostly comprising of international students, who performed cultural shows from their respective countries.
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A traditional dance from Romania, and the Romanian lady was later joined by several people from the floor.
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Bangladesh dance; alone she might be, but she put up an energetic performance, turning left and right, going forward and gostan-ing haha.
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A group of Indonesian performing a traditional dance from Sumatra, which is very similar to traditional Malay dance.
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Vietnamese traditional dance, with hats; one of the best performances of the night.
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A Fijian guy performed a song, entitled "Isa Isa".
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An American country dance by a local dance group.
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Everyone there seemed to enjoy the performances.
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We were later asked to join them to dance as well haha!
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Taken with the Vietnamese guy and his child.
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Taken with Prof. Aoyagi and a lecturer, who is from Nagaoka University of Technology.
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Miss Ogawa Yuka, from Nagaoka City International Affairs Division gave me an emergency call a few days earlier, because they didn't have Jalur Gemilang to be hung in the hall. So I brought mine there, although it was just a mini-sized one.
Next up was a lucky draw session. Remember the ticket number I got for the night? It was #244 and I was lamenting on the unlucky number I got. To be honest, I have never strike any prizes in any lucky draws for my whole life. Well, maybe there was, but I cannot remember any of them anymore haha! So, the draw started and halfway through the draw, they announced to us that the prize was sponsored by American Airlines. How nice if the prize is a return ticket to somewhere in the States, I thought.
They pulled out a number and read it out. Guess what? It was my unlucky number - #244!
Damn unbelievable-lor haha! I couldn't believe my luck, that I looked at my ticket a few more times to confirm it. The prize was a notebook leather bag, which fits my MacBook perfectly. Finally, my laptop has found its house lol! When I walked back to my table, the rest of them asked me to look inside the bag, just in case there might be a flight ticket in it. I opened it and I swear you're not gonna believe what I saw inside the bag!
OMG, I got a super huge surprise!
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Posing with my prize from the lucky draw.

I saw nothing inside the bag. Haha, gotcha! What? You thought I saw a flight ticket inside it-arh?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NNCT Soubetsukai 2010

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Heisei 21 Year - International Students Farewell Party.
Finally, the three wonderful years in Nagaoka Kosen will come to an end. Reminiscing the same event held approximately three years ago, the times I have spent here feels like it was just a blink of an eye. Just like what I wrote in the last line of last year's entry - "In one year's time, it's gonna be my turn. Time flies."; yes, without realising it, my turn has come.
This is the third farewell party we had in less than a fortnight, after the rice-cake-founding event and the second one, planned by our Malaysian juniors. This time, it was organised by the Students' Affairs Department of the school last week. For the first time in three years, it is still snowing although it is already heading towards the end of February. The snow fall this year has been exceptionally a lot this year. In fact, it was snowing outside, when this farewell party was going on.
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Ridzuan, Muazam and I reached the school cafeteria ten minutes before the event was supposed to start, but there were only one receptionist staff and another lecturer there.
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Fresh salmon sashimi, engg, tuna and potato sandwiches, chocolate cakes, assorted fruits, fried chicken, ebi fry, sushi, oden, and juices.
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Common fruits in Japan. Sorry, no places for cempedak or durians haha!
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O
den is a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konnyaku, and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth.
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A special table for the Muslim international students,where the food was prepared using halal ingredients.
The cafeteria was almost empty when we arrived, but in less than five minutes, the place suddenly became packed with lecturers, staffs and students. The event was supposed to start at five, but it started slightly later as some people have yet to arrived.
In the end, the MC kicked off the party ten minutes past five. Ten minutes late, which was very un-Japanese.
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This guy from the Students' Affairs Department has been the MC for three years, or maybe more.
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As usual, the speech from Prof. Takada Koji, the school principal.
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He talked about the Japan flag last year; this time, it was about ... I don't know, forgotten already haha wtf!
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Special guest of the day - our Japanese language lecturer - Matsuda Sensei!!!
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This sensei rocks big time! She is like the most kind, loving, friendly sensei ever. We will miss her, especially her lectures a lot after this.
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You can see it through most of our face expressions haha!
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Everyone was listening to what the people talking in front.
In her speech, Matsuda sensei mentioned about a new technology, in which one can now learn a new language using the computer, and it could replace the conventional way of learning it from teachers. That is why she voiced her fear that she could lose her job pretty soon. But given a choice, I still prefer learning something from human, rather than programmed computers.
Most of the people there were waiting for the speeches to end as soon as possible, because everyone just couldn't wait any longer to attack the food haha. Yea-lah, how can you tahan when you see so many nice food on the table, right?
Our wish was granted, as the next agenda was eating time haha!
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Kanpai
before makan session began.
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Everyone was busy eating and chatting right after that.
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Wei Shen kena scolding from Matsuda sensei for stuffing too much cekodok into his mouth haha!
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Woah, love is so much in the air. Valentine's Day was just a week ago, that's why.
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Tsuchida sensei, the English language lecturer and Mr Watanabe, the always friendly and helpful staff from the Students' Affair Department. Both of them just got married to each other last year. How sweet.
When I was busy talking on one hand, and eating on the other, one Japanese students called me over to one corner. Her name is Sayaka, one of the Japanese students who went to Malaysia last summer, and I happened to be in Malaysia to guide them around Kuala Lumpur. Well, she is quite close to the international students (especially *ahem* me *ahem* haha so syiok-sendiri wtf!) as she had studied in Denmark for a few years before this.
I walked to her and she gave me a hand-made love letter, which I totally didn't expect at all haha wtf!
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No-lar, it was actually a card to congratulate us on our graduation.
As always, the leaving seniors would be asked to give a few words in front.
Three years ago, I was the one of the juniors who watched and listened to the seniors who went in front and gave their short speech. Three years after that, it was my turn to give my thoughts to the lecturers, staffs and the juniors in this farewell party. Thank God I did prepare a little bit for that, so I wasn't that anxious to talk spontaneously. Despite that, I still missed out a few lines, but I guess it's just normal when you are talking in front of so many people (not that many actually haha).
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The microphone stand was too low for me, so I plucked the microphone from it haha!

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Ridzuan's turn to talk. The farewell party was held just on the perfect day as it was on that evening that he received the news that his job interview was a successful one.

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Matsuda sensei has special fondness for Ridzuan; her facial expression reflected it clearly. During her speech earlier, Matsuda sensei mentioned that Ridzuan's sentences always relate to world peace (half inside joke) haha!
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Shah, who rushed from his research lab to attend the party.
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One thing funny is that when someone is talking in front, the ones behind would come out with weird faces and body languages. I don't know why my tongue was out, Yan Kuan was laughing at the ant on the floor, Ridzuan with his serious face, Aki and Shah tried to pose like twins, while Joann was emoing haha!

After every one finished thanking (I don't know how many times the word arigatou was repeated haha) everyone, the lecturers, the staffs, friends and juniors, we were treated to a video presentation, which was specially prepared by the juniors. Lights were turn off and we were set for a long journey.
That's because the video was damn long!
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However, it was still touching to see so many pictures, so many memories during the three years we spent here.
But then, let me tell this; they were very clever-lor.
They knew the seniors would be sad after watching the video, so what they did after that to make us happy, was to give us presents haha! Who is not happy to get presents, right? It was just a small token of appreciation by the dormitory's representatives. When we later opened the present, it was some wool toy kinda thingy, and Yan Kuang claimed it was from 100 yen shop lol!
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The two dormitory leaders, before presenting us our souvenirs.
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I know it might be from 100 yen shop, but still must pose for the camera haha wtf!
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Notice Joann got extra something.
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Anybody has any idea what is this?
Apparently, the girls got an extra piece of cardboard, which was written with messages by the juniors. So nice, right? But then, that is because there are just a few girls in the dormitory. If the guys were to have all the juniors to write their messages on a board, I think they would need to order one blackboard for each of us haha!
The party was heading to its ending and Maruyama sensei, who is put in charge to take care of the international students' affair for the year gave his closing speech.
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Again, I forgot what he said already haha!
However, I guess it must be wishing the seniors all the best in their new place; something like that. It was great to have him to baby-sit us for one year because he is a really sporting sensei and can talk with us as if we are his friends. Whatever decisions he makes, it will usually be done randomly and casually, without much thought. Very cincai like that-lah haha!
Finally, some photo sessions.
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The school principal and the professors from the Mechanical Engineering Department.
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Mechanical Engineering - Most of the sensei have gone back when this picture was taken.
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Electrical and Electronic System Engineering - The only group which has a different background.
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Electronic Control Engineering - They might have the least number of group members, but they still didn't wanna get left behind.
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Materials Engineering - The biggest group!
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Civil Engineering - They have the best pose of the day, all thanks to Araki sensei's idea.
One of my senior once said, whenever you are leaving someone, or leaving a place, never say "good bye". Instead, replace that word with "see you again"; or in Japanese, 「さよなら言わず、又会いましょう」(sayonara iwazu, mata aimashou).
I don't know when can we meet again, but it has been great to know you guys!
sobetsu blog-1
Mata aimashou!