At Rikkyo University, there is a wonderful place call “Global Lounge”, which is basically a free space with many tables, where Japanese and international students can interact, improve our language skills, and gain insight on foreign cultures. Occasionally, we have special intercultural events at the Global Lounge, such as Study Abroad Fair, students’s presentations on their home countries, oversea experiences, and job opportunities after studying abroad, etc.
So far, I would say this is my favorite place on campus. When I am at school and do not have class, then I am probably at the Global Lounge. Personally, I feel it’s easier to make friend with Japanese students here than at any other place at school because they are more open and willing to talk to us foreigners. Another reason is that this is the only place where I can eat, and chat with friends while doing homework. (It’s not appropriated to do so in the library, so…)
Once a week, we have a “World Cafe” event at the Global Lounge during lunch. Participants can enjoy conversation in English on a chosen topic in a casual setting over lunch. The even aims to help Japanese students to get used to and be more confident in using English, but depending on the topic, international students can also learn a lot about Japanese culture. Also, if requested then conversations in other languages can be organized. Last time, we had a “French table” because there was a Japanese student who was going to study abroad in France, and we happened to have some French students who were more than willing to help her get prepared for her journey. They seemed to have a very lively discussion, but too bad, I couldn’t understand their conversation at all ><
I currently have my “part-time” job as a “discussion leader” at the World Cafe, which is a win-win for me. I don’t feel I am doing a part-time job at all because it’s too easy to be a job. I enjoy taking to people and I would be happy to do this even without getting paid, but of course, I don’t say no to money :D.
My main task is to control the flow of the discussion, encourage people to talk, and keep the conversation going on. We have a specific topic to discuss every session, but we can also talk about whatever we want to. When I did my interview on this job, they asked me if there was any thing I was concerned about the job. I told them that English was actually not my first language either, so I might not be very helpful in helping other improving their skills, and they told me that it would not be a problem at all. The purpose of World Cafe is to enjoy using English, not to perfect skills. As a language leaner myself, I can see how important this is. From my observation, I think the Japanese students’ English skill is not bad at all; they just do not want to talk very much ^^”