【Report】Saturday TalkCafe 1st Meeting 2020

Date/time: 10:00-11:00 a.m. on Sept.12 (Sat.), 2020
Place: MIFA
Attendees: Ms.A (Iraq) Ms.R (India) Ms.S (China)   ※3 people in total
Abe (MIFA staff member)
Content: An on-line discussion via Zoom was conducted.
1. Self-introduction

A (from Iraq; graduate student)

R (form India; housewife): Before relocating from the USA to Tokyo, in February 2020, I was a full time PhD student. Due to my husband’s work commitments, our family moved to Tokyo and I took a year’s break from college. We have lived in Tokyo earlier, from 2011-2013 and coming back in the year of the Olympics was an exciting prospect. I am well-travelled in India, Asia and North America and the diverse experiences I gained by living in three of the biggest global economies (India, Japan and USA) has helped me get a deep perspective of cultures, lifestyles, technology and its impact on education. I have 2 teenage boys and my husband works for Japanese Company. I can fluently speak, read and write English & Hindi languages. I can speak very basic conversational Japanese. My association with MIFA dates back to 2012 when I conducted an Indian cooking class and a session in a Japanese High school about Indian Culture.

S (from China; graduate student)

2. How Covid 19 changed your life?

R: Just as * Covid 19* has changed the lives of so many people, it has affected mine too. My social life has declined. Before moving to Tokyo in January 2020 I was excited to reconnect with my friends but it was a complete stay at home for me for the past few months. My son could not visit us from Canada due to Covid 19. I was unable to find work for myself amidst the pandemic despite being qualified to teach. The good thing is that I started eating healthy home cooked food regularly and have maintained a healthy yoga and walking schedule.

A: Covid 19 pandemic affects me in two sides. First, about the daily life like shopping, eating out in the restaurants and shops, using the train and subway, touching anything outside the home, are now come with restrictions and taking care of disinfection and the hygiene. Second,  Covid 19 affects me emotionally, like now we become less social, meeting our friends less frequently than before, and being worried all the time about whether me, my family, and my friends may get the virus.

S: I have to accomplish the first year of my master’s course (M1) online, which is a waste of the beautiful campus.

R: Japanese government has adequately reacted to Covid 19. Everybody is wearing a face-mask in public places. Such subsidies as special cash payment, emergency loans, cash payment to restaurants that stopped business to prevent pandemic, and subsidy to companies.

R: Have you felt discrimination against foreigners?

A: No.

S: No.

R: Me neither. I was moved by a flight by air self-defense forces fighters as a token of appreciation to staff at medical institutions.

S: I have a small child, who is under stress and sometimes shouts.

R: Children are under such a stress that parenting is hard.

Abe: Face-to-face lessons are in place in your university?

A: No, only on-line lessons. My bodily temperature is measured when I go into my laboratory. I cannot go to a distant place. Only in my neighbors. I even cannot see my friends.

R: I went to Nokogiriyama the other day. Hiking could be a good pastime if it avoids close contact with people.

Abe: Has Covid 19 hit you financially?

R: No.

A: No. I’m on scholarship.

S: No. I’m on scholarship.

3. What your life is going to be like in the coming months.

R: I will continue to do my part in following safety measures to reduce the burden on the medical fraternity. I expect that they invent an effective and safe vaccine in the coming year. I hope the travel restrictions are eased and people continue taking adequate precaution during travel. I expect the Government in Tokyo to ramp up testing in Hotspots so that asymptomatic but infected people are timely traced and isolated.

R:I hope my son will come to Japan and we go on a trip together and enjoy 2021 Olympic games.。

A: I hope the situation gets better in the next few months. May be a good vaccine will be available. So I wish my life return to its normal in the coming months/years.

S: I guess I will accomplish my master course in one and a half years. Before that, I’d better have found a job in Japan. That means I’m getting busy with the dissertation and job hunting.

4. What do you expect to Saturday TalkCafe?

A: Unfortunately, the number of participants is small. I suggest increasing the number of participants. Also, I think there were some issue with internet connection but such think sometimes are unavoidable.

R: Abe san did a great job of organising “The Covid impact on our lives” talk on September 12th 2020. I hope we could hold one such Talk cafe every month with more participants. Later, in the coming months this event could be held in-person with a limited number of people at MIFA. I look forward to the situation getting better and visiting MIFA in the near future.

S: Actually it’s not a big deal but it seems that Mifa’s office has a bit of noise.

5. What do you expect MIFA to do?

A: I expect that MIFA resume its activities in the next weeks/months with taking a safety considerations like offering online programs or outdoor events with limiting the number of participants.

R: I would request MIFA to consider conducting activities like Japanese class, TalkCafe and International Cooking class, online, so that we can continue learning and feel that we all are together in this situation.
S: I do think MIFA always does well, you has done so many things for us. I even have got first Kimono experience because of you.

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