Student Staff Leader
The ICC has held many country festivals, which focus on a particular country to introduce its culture. In the past, we have organized events for countries including Canada, Thailand, France, and more. After noticing a trend where the majority of these countries were already well-recognized, I decided to take an alternative approach; that is to embrace the culture of an unexplored country.
This thought instantly led me to Slovenia, a country where I spent four years of my childhood. Every time I tell my friends I have lived there before, almost all of them would express astonishment, however, becomes silent when asked if they know anything about the country. (Maybe except for the fact that it is a European country). By putting together a program to introduce the culture of Slovenia, I felt that it would be a great chance to clear out the obscure image which many people had.
The event kicked off with a well-established joke; Slovenia is NOT Slovakia. Presenters from the Slovene Embassy in Tokyo, as well as two other Slovene students spoke to us about the country from each of their perspectives. Curiosity sparked by the listeners were outstanding, some of them were even taking notes by hand. I was also very pleased by how the presentations shed light on the hidden relationship between Slovenia and Japan since there were a lot of information for me to take out of as well.
The series of presentations was followed by a traditional music performance, presented by a Japanese music-unit which specializes in Slovene music. Their show created a festive-like atmosphere with everyone clapping along the beat. By getting to know the two performers throughout my event, I was able to realize that culture does not necessarily have to be bounded to the rooted country, but can also be embraced across borders. This is an extremely crucial notion for all of us to keep in mind as global citizens, yet can be controversial at times. Especially in a homogenous country like Japan, there is a tendency to value and maintain our traditions only within the country. However, we must dispose of such norm and start embracing the Japanese culture in and out of the country.
The Slovene Culture Night being my very first event as a student staff, it would be a lie if I said the whole process was simply fun. The biggest challenge I faced was during the research process, realizing how difficult it was to find sponsors for such an exotic country. Since I was able to expand my network after participating in a culture event outside of ICC, I strongly felt that taking an initiative is one of the most important actions when preparing for an event. On the other hand, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have been able to re-connect with Slovenia, which I call my second home. Little did I know that this event would allow me to become part of the Slovene community again, bringing me back many good memories.
This event was a great success, not only because I was able to achieve the intended objective as an event planner (to diffuse the Slovene culture to the public), but also because the Slovene supporters were able to feel a little sense of home within the faraway Japan. Accordingly, I would like to keep in mind that both the event planner as well as the supporters must have a clear intention when working together towards a shared goal of succeeding in an event.
Last but not least, thank you to everyone who contributed to this event in any way; both the event supporters and the participants! I hope to see you again at our future ICC events!