Zemi Research Convention 2021
"Tips of multicultural coexistence that will go viral"

Minamikawa Seminar (Team name: Fumizu)
Harumi Kobayashi, Ayumi Yamada, Airi Murakami, Ayano Kikuchi, Nonoka Kidera, Yui Nomura

We interviewed the members of the Minamikawa Seminar who presented: "Tips of multicultural coexistence that will go viral" at the 2021 College of International Relations Zemi Research Convention

Please give details of your Zemi Research Convention presentation (please explain in more detail than the presentation outline posted on the website).

Our presentation was on the ideal form of multiculturalism based on the concept of "interculturalism".

Interculturalism is the positive interaction between different cultures for practicality. The importance is that this is neither assimilationism, in which minorities blend into the majority, nor multiculturalism, in which cultures exist separately in multiple societies.

Why did you choose your theme?

Initially, we had narrowed our topic down to "foreign technical trainees". We decided to change as we wanted to research a topic that would be interesting and familiar to our audience as many of whom will be university students. We wanted to focus on the increasingly common situation of living alongside foreigners in Japan. In the end, we chose the theme of intercultural cities, a policy that started in Europe, where many immigrants live together.

In presenting this concept, we drew attention to the leading "Intercultural Cities" mainly promoted by the Council of Europe. The goal is for cities to ethically evolve by understanding cultural diversity as prosperity rather than a threat. During our presentation, we introduced and explained the details of the Intercultural Index policies implemented in Lisbon, Portugal, Barcelona, Spain and Hamamatsu, Japan. We shared the achievements distinctive to each member city and proposed our own "intercultural city model which would be unique to Kyoto". In addition, we gave the audience five interactive quizzes related to everyday life with questions such as: "What is Interculturalism?". We hope that the quizzes helped the audience to reflect the question "What is interculturalism?" into the context of their daily lives.

What kind of things did you experience as a group leading up to the convention?

The group discussed how to present the concepts of "intercultural city" and "interculturalism" clearly and amicably to a Japanese audience not so familiar with the concept.

We had a hard time narrowing down how to make people more aware of different cultures in their daily lives. Because the topic is still not well known in Japan, there were many messages we wanted to convey. After discussing with the group and Professor Minamikawa, we decided that one of the main objectives of our presentation is to convey the philosophy of Interculturalism in an easy-to-understand way.

What did you learn through the Zemi Research Convention you can apply to your future career?

The convention has deepened our understanding of the theme of the seminar; multiculturalism. Many different policies are implemented in different countries with no single goal. By focusing on and researching interculturalism, we feel we learnt about a new form of multicultural sociability. 

Through this presentation, we believe that we have contributed to spreading this idea of interculturalism to many people.

As we prepared for our presentation as a group, we deepened our friendship with other seminarians, which up till now had been difficult to do due to the Corona pandemic. We were reminded of the importance of helping each other and respecting each other in group activities.

Message to the next year's participants

At the Zemi Research Convention, you will learn, come across diverse perspectives, ways of thinking and have the opportunity to witness the research from other teams. We encourage you to actively go and listen to many presentations as you can.

It is also a great opportunity to get feedback from the audiences which help you identify new issues to address.

We don't know what the situation with coronavirus infections will be like in the next year, but whatever the situation, please remember to discuss, build familiarity and understanding among your teammates. We hope that you will enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the Zemi Research Convention to the fullest.

Introduction of the seminar

In the Minamikawa seminar, we contemplate and discussed the nature of diversity across racial barriers in various contexts. Many students are interested in the theme, so everyone is highly motivated.

We read allocated sections of the textbook and discuss them as a class. We gained valuable information, which will be essential for us as a human beings.

Professor Minamikawa is a charming professor who sees things from many perspectives and breaks down complex topics into understandable examples. He introduces current issues related to the class theme and explains the background to deepen our understanding.

The seminar has a lively feel where students learn actively through freely speaking and asking questions. The class has a motivating attitude in which seminar students work together to heighten their knowledge. 

March 2022