Raccoonkai in London

The first British Raccoonkai was held in London on August 17, 2008 (Sun). This was attended by the five of us: (Junko) Imanishi, Hayato (eldest son of the Imanishi family), Brenda (2005 Raccoon), David Nathan (my husband), and myself (Meili Fang, 1997 Raccoon). The venue was a Taiwanese restaurant in West Brompton. We met at the hotel in Paddington where Imanishi-san was staying. This time it was not just a gathering of Atsumi Foundation scholarship recipients such as Brenda and me. We were joined by Hayato, who is very much interested in music and computers, and David, who is involved in the recording and preservation of critical language data, so the conversation went from computers, the weather, immigration, national languages, food, astronomy, geography, climate, politics, economics, civilization, and science---covering a lot of topics that transcended language and cultural boundaries. I have gathered below everyone’s thoughts about this gathering.

Junko Imanishi
Impression: Thanks to Fang-san, we were able to enjoy a very delicious Taiwanese meal. Let’s keep this up.
Topic: First time to hear about the Taiwan’s participating in the Olympics under a different flag. Due to skilful negotiations in Taiwanese, a lot of special dishes were served. This is were the Taiwanese team was particularly strong ?!Gochisousama!

Impression: With all these dishes being served, washing the dishes must be tough.
Special Comment: Catch up with what’s going on with everyone!
Topic: Good microphones for recording conversation!

Impression: About Restaurant and Food, the appetizers are very ‘appetizing’, very sumptuous. Thanks to Fang-san for the recommendation.
Special Comment: The ambiance was nice! I enjoyed not only the food but the various interesting topics over the meal. Great to see Imanishi-san, Hayato, Fang-san and David
Topic: The topic on food culture especially on the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese was particularly interesting.

Impression: Kono meeting-wa Cho oishii!
Topic: I enjoyed meeting Brenda Tenegra and discussing immigration issues. We also discussed the situation of endangered languages in different parts of the world.
Special Comment: It was a meeting of experts from UK, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan and Australia.

Impression: Even with the same English language, there could be different linguistic backgrounds. David’s English humour sounded ironical and cool to Hayato as they engaged in conversation, which to me looked like that between the duo in a stand-up comedy. The topic of national language came up. Although the same term of “national language (Kokugo)” is used, the circumstances are different for English and Japanese. The Japanese language is multi-notational or, if I may say so, multi-lingual (e.g., Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese poem, military chronicles), putting it at a different dimension to the English language, which has been integrated into one notation.
Topic: I heard from Imanishi-san that Japan has a goal of accepting 300,000 foreign students. Perhaps my method of teaching(A Performance Approach to Language Teaching and Learning )could be of some use to the diffusion of the Japanese language education! It might be good to recommend it to Fukuda-san.
Special Comment: I find it really significant that the first British Raccoonkai was simply not a meal but was also an opportunity to discuss issues from various cultural perspectives. Good job!

(by Meili Fang, trans. By F. Maquito)