Book reading and culture event at the north branch of the Ikoma Library（2022/11/12）
A book reading and culture event with NAIST Malaysian students was held in cooperation with the north branch of the Ikoma Library on November 12th at the north community center ISTA Habataki. With the signing of a cooperative agreement with Ikoma City, NAIST and the Ikoma Library began discussing possible collaborations to increase interaction between the community and NAIST international students, and this was our first event from this partnership. From NAIST, 7 Malaysian students, 4 staff members and their families participated in the event along with 9 Ikoma families (13 adults and 15 children (ages 2-8)) that signed up for the event at the library. With over 40 participants, roughly half of them energetic children, the room was filled with energy and excitement.
After the library staff opened the event with greetings and announcements from the library, Robert King (UEA, CISS) greeted the participants and led everyone in singing and moving to 'Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes' along with the Malaysian students to warm up the parents and children and get them involved. This was followed by a book reading, which was the picture book 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' written by Eric Carle. A library staff member read the Japanese version and then a Malaysian student read the English one, and, even though the book was read twice, the children paid attention to both the Japanese and the English.
After the reading, the Malaysian students took over the event for the game they planned to learn about Malaysia and Malaysian culture. The Malaysian students introduced themselves and explained the game and Mr. King translated this for those whose language skilled were limited. The game was a combination of tag and a quiz where children had question sheets with ten questions and they had to catch the person in charge of each question (Malaysian students and NAIST staff). The children had to say a simple Malaysian greeting and answer a question about Malaysia or Malaysian culture, and got stickers for each of these (if they answer the questions correctly). At first the children seemed a little bit nervous and didn't talk much, but once they started moving around, their voices got bigger and they began to enjoy talking with the students and staff. Children and parents had a great time running around the room chasing their questions. Ikoma Mayor, Masashi Komurasaki joined the game and actively talked with the children as well.
When this finished, the Malaysian students then talked about making paper airplanes and introduced a 'paper airplane song' that is popular with Malaysian children. The children then chose a sheet of colored paper and made different colored paper airplanes to compete to see whose airplane would go the farthest. They enjoyed lining up and throwing their airplanes together to see how far they can go, and kept coming back to try again. Mr. King closed the event with 'Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes', varying the speed up to make the children laugh, and Mayor Komurasaki greeted everyone at the end in Japanese and English.
From the participation survey the library handed out, many people said they enjoyed the event and we will continue to work with Ikoma City to create new opportunities for international students and Ikoma citizens to interact and get to know each other. Making friends and meeting new people are one of the best ways to understand cultures and gain insight to countries around the globe. We are planning the next library event for February and will work with international students again to make an interesting and educational event for children.