I feel like I haven’t done a proper CIR-related post in a while, so I thought I’d write about the mid-year conference all the 1st-3rd year CIRs have to go to in Tokyo every year. I’m not sure if the ALTs have a similar thing to this, so I’ll just be focusing on the CIR one.
Basically, this is a 3-day conference of powerpoints and workshops by guest speakers, some of whom are previous CIRs. The conference as a whole is a good opportunity to both find out about all the different things CIRs can do in their placements, but also to get advice from and network with your fellow CIRs.
Since the conference starts on a Monday, the average person will go to Tokyo on the Friday or weekend before so as to spend some extra time in Tokyo as well as enable themselves to rest up after travelling before the conference begins. I, however (as well as some of my fellow CIRs) didn’t have that option. I had to wake up at about 5.30am on Monday, get a shuttle bus at 7am, to get on a plane to Tokyo from Oita at 8.30am. I arrived at my hotel in Tokyo at 1.30pm, a mere hour before the conference was to start, leaving me barely enough time to get changed and grab something to eat from the conbini (convenience store) before I had to leave again to get to the hotel where the conference was being held. This wasn’t ideal.
I asked multiple times if I could go early but was told that the other CIRs in the prefecture had to fly out on the day (they didn’t), that I couldn’t because my trip was funded by taxpayers as an employee of city hall (even though I said I’d be willing to pay for transport and accommodation myself if it meant I could go early, they then said that because it was still on city hall time I couldn’t), that they wouldn’t know where I was if there was an emergency (as if I wouldn’t tell them where I was staying and how I was getting there…not to mention the fact I have most of my coworkers added on LINE…)
So just know that if you’re a CIR and you had or end up having similar problems, you’re not the only one and I hope if you try to persuade your office to let you go early that you have more luck than I did.
Anyway. What about the actual conference? You’re probably asking. Here was the schedule according to which workshops I went to:
14.30 – 14.45: Opening Ceremony
14.45 – 15.30: General Meeting (in this case, a talk about the Olympics and Paralympics and how CIRs could work together with their local municipalities leading up to it
15.45 – 17.00: Group discussions in groups about each others’ placements, what they do, any problems they may be having or advice they’re seeking etc.
9.00 – 10.15: English Interpreting workshop
10.30 – 11.45: Presentation about multiculturalism in Japan – efforts that have been made so far and what to aim for in the future
11.45 – 13.00: Lunch (provided by the hotel/conference, as far as I remember it was some pretty bland pasta with a tomato-based sauce, and possibly salad?)
13.00 – 14.15: Presentation about using broadcasting (on tv mostly) as a form of international exchange, by a CIR who used to have her own tv show
14.30 – 15.45: Presentation and workshop about interpreting in French (since I studied French as a minor at uni and since the age of 6)
16.00 – 17.00: Another group discussion, pretty much the same as the one on Monday
9.00 – 10.15: Presentation about mental health and self-monitoring. This was probably one of the best ones in my opinion, and not just because we all got given a piece of chocolate
10.30 – 11.45: Presentation about how CIRs can help the police in their local area. I hadn’t actually particularly wanted to go to this but the one I’d wanted to go to was full
11.45 – 11.50: Closing Ceremony
Due to being perpetually tired I couldn’t really concentrate for a lot of the presentations, but I did manage to take some notes. Taking notes is definitely something I would recommend if you can, as most offices will ask you to write a fukumeisho, which is like a report of your trip and your thoughts and experiences of the conference, when you get back to work.
For me, the best thing about the mid-year conference was getting to meet up with a lot of CIRs I’d only spoken to online up until that point and hang out with them in Tokyo. Since the conference was at the end of November there were Christmas lights everywhere, and a group of us went up Tokyo Tower, which had seasonal projections in the viewing floor that made it really magical. We also wandered around Shibuya, went to the Disney Store, bought too much in the LUSH store, had some great Mexican food, hung out at an Irish pub…it was great to spend time with so many people that, although they may be from different countries, understand and share the same experiences.
For me, the best thing about being a CIR isn’t the work, it’s the people that I’ve met~