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World Watching: Bolivia

Hello to the ether! I have an empty couple of hours this morning, so just time for a brief mind-spaff. We’re just after holding the winter version of our biannual “World Watching” seminar, which, as anticipated, was a far improvement on the last one (see blog entry no.1).

Presented by Bolivian expat Miguel and his Japanese wife, Hiromi, the event got great feedback from everyone I spoke to. Hiromi kicked us off with a fascinating talk about Bolivia. Not being a country that is well-known in Japan (or presumably anywhere for that matter) it was mentioned a lot to me later how new all the information was. The thing which struck me personally was the sheer number of ethnic groups living in such a relatively sparsely populated nation. All those traditions and languages have helped to create a unique culture, not to mention the geographical peculiarity of the country being at 3500-5000 metres altitude! Hiromi had lived in Bolivia for a couple of years as part of a volunteer programme, at which time she met Miguel, and her presentation about the country was interspersed with nice little anecdotes and personal experiences.

After the talk, and some brief questions, the final half an hour was devoted to Miguel and Hiromi’s music. They brought a range of instruments that Miguel had brought with him all the way from Bolivia. The first performance was the two of them; Miguel on the drum with Hiromi’s beautiful flute playing, before we the audience joined in with the later songs, dancing, and, in the case of some volunteers, playing some percussive instruments along with Miguel and Hiromi.

Here's a little video taken of one of the songs:

After the event, the presenters were kind enough to stay and chat with everyone and let the little kids have a go on the instruments. My 5-year-old son, Eiji, even made a nifty little musical duo with Miguel!

Anyway, there’s not much more to say about the event other than it was a bit success enjoyed immensely by everyone who came. In terms of reflection, some people mentioned that they had wanted to hear more music, though I’m sure many others were happy with just the thirty minutes. The only real issue for me is that I wanted more people to attend. There were just under thirty people in attendance, which is actually less than my rubbish presentation last May; I really felt that Miguel and Hiromi’s talent and effort were deserving of a bigger audience, and I wanted more younger people to go as well. In the end there were three young children there, while the rest of the audience was comprised of middle-aged and elderly people (as well as myself*).

Rather than these World Watching seminars, I suppose our Guest Teacher Programme is targeted towards the children of Yasu, but whether I can persuade someone like Miguel to join me for a school visit is another matter. If I ever get a request to teach a whole year group, or a whole school, I will certainly ask him if he’ll help to teach about Bolivia and let the kids hear his music.


Speaking of the Guest Teacher Programme, the busy autumn schedule is behind me now, and, in fact, I only have one more appointment before the year ends. Apart from that, I’ve got some translating and interpreting tasks, the Halloween Party reflection meeting next week, and some recruitment work to do (posters and stuff!) to try and make sure we have enough volunteers helping us in the schools next year.

If you are one of the handful of people who look at these blogs, thank you! I basically chose to write them for two reasons: ➀ self-reflection ➁ something to promote YIFA to people checking our new homepage Nobody really reads what I’m writing (That’s not a complaint BTW; I never mention the blog, let alone promote it!), so I guess ➁ is a failure, but ➀ is working out just fine for me!

Anyway, that will do for this time. Mind-spaff over! I’ll be sure to waste some internet space again sometime soon.



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