Nara JETNet 7th Event
World Heritage Expo
On October 4, 2003, The Nara JETNet Liaison Council (JETNet) held its seventh international event, the World Heritage Expo, at Kasuga-no-so in Nara City. The council, comprised of the 5 Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) in Nara Prefecture and the assistant language teacher (ALT) at the Nara Prefectural Board of Education, has been planning international events in Nara since 2001.
The World Heritage Expo was co-sponsored by the International Affairs Division of the Nara Prefectural Office and the United Nations, and a total of 77 citizens of Nara attended. Thanks to the efforts of 44 hard working JETs, presentations were given and displays were made about World Heritage in eight countries: Italy, France, America, New Zealand, Canada, The United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia.
At approximately 12.30pm, as the Japanese participants started to arrive, the ALTs stayed by their country groups’ displays and discussed various world heritages sites with the curious onlookers. At 1.00pm the event officially got underway, with JETNet Chair Jason Pickens making opening remarks about both Nara JETNet and the concept of world heritage. In his introduction, Jason discussed why it was important to preserve cultural and natural artifacts around the world. Italy set the tone for the day, with presenters both describing the trulli of Alberobello and making an energetic entrance on a homemade gondola as way of introducing the city of Venice. The next group was France, who discussed the historic center of Avignon and showed slides of the Palace of Versailles. The USA group started with a brief montage of American world heritage sites, then went into detail on four specific sites. The baking soda and vinegar volcano that represented Hawaii Volcanoes State Park drew laughter from the audience. The last group before the break was New Zealand, who gave an introduction to Mt. Cook, Westland, and Fiordland, which combined make up over 10% of the total area of New Zealand.
After a brief intermission, the second half of the groups presented. Canada’s powerpoint presentation was very well received by the audience, as were the world heritage sites themselves: Quebec City, Dinosaur State Park, and Olde Town Lunenberg. The representatives of the United Kingdom gave a detailed introduction of Fountain’s Abbey (a historic monastery), Greenwich (the place where standard time is measured), and Stonehenge, whose mystery no one has been able to solve. Mexico featured three cultural heritage sites as well, and their reenactment of an Aztec human sacrifice as way of explaining the historic center of Mexico City was quite dynamic. The day’s program was brought to a close with a presentation on aboriginal culture and aboriginal cultural heritage in Australia.
Even after the presentations were finished, however, many participants stayed for another half-hour, admiring the effort that the JETs put into making informational displays on world heritage in their countries. Surveys given to the participants revealed that they were quite glad to be given the opportunity not only to learn about world heritage in English, but also to interact with foreigners from around the prefecture. Overall, the event was immensely enjoyable for both the Japanese participants and the JETs alike, and Nara JETNet is looking forward to holding more events in the months to come.