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Japanese-German student gathering

The Japanese-German ‘Stammtisch’

Essentially, the F+U language school can be described as a meeting point for people from all over the world who are interested in language and culture. But occasionally, getting all these people together to share their interests needs a little encouragement from outside to get things underway. Sometimes all it takes is a single push to set the communication ball rolling, as this article illustrates.

The Japan Centre has been established for some time now, with several Japanese staff and regular seminars on different themes. In addition, hundreds of Japanese language students come to Heidelberg every year to learn German. Furthermore, in 2010 we became the first school in Germany to offer the Foreign Language Correspondence Clerk course specialising in Japanese. There are also several more German language students, host families and staff and even though their interest may not lie in Japan specifically, they are often enthusiastic about other languages and cultures in general.

Sadly, both of these ‘sections’ within our school – Japanese interested in Germany and Germans interested in Japan – have little day to day contact with each other. Mr Shinya Iwakiri, one of the Japan Centre staff, thought it was time to remedy the situation; consequently, he launched the Japanese-German ‘Stammtisch’ (literally ‘regulars’ table’ – an informal, regular get-together, usually held in a pub or restaurant). His aim was to promote the interaction among Japanese and Germans at the F+U language school and to offer them a forum where they could exchange ideas and interests. “I hoped that some new tandem partnerships might even materialise along the way,” he explains. F+U’s very first Japanese-German Stammtisch took place on Thursday, 14th July 2012 in Café Rossi in Rohrbacherstraße. Mr Iwakiri had already put up a notice in the school’s entrance area, sent emails to participants in previous Japan Centre events and spread the word about his idea in person. As a result, Mr Iwakiri received 30 registrations; and on the evening as many as 45 participants gathered together at 6 pm in Café Rossi. “I was utterly taken aback that the very first Stammtisch was so popular,” he says, overjoyed.

In future, the plan is to hold the Stammtisch at least once a month. If possible, a regular group of participants should emerge, as is the norm for any proper Stammtisch. Nonetheless, new members are of course extremely welcome. Anyone interested can register on the Japan Centre’s Facebook page or by e-mail to japanzentrum@fuu.de.


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