Human Rights Seminar "Harmonious Coexistence of Multiple Cultures on Campus" was Held

Update: December 19, 2016

On December 13 (Tues), the 19th Human Rights Seminar entitled "Harmonious Coexistence of Multiple Cultures on Campus" was held. This seminar is held every year sometime around the "Human Rights Day" (December 10th) by the ICU Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Counselors' Meeting, which conduct counselling and educational activities with regard to human rights.

This year, Ms. Hiroko Kotake, a practicing attorney, was invited as the speaker. Workshops were held to look back on one's life and discuss about times when you felt that you were part of the minority or majority group, and also to think about how one can recognize and overcome differences in culture.

Referring to both her professional and personal life, Ms. Kotake pointed out that many conflicts, both the ones she addresses as an attorney and those she experiences in her own life, are often rooted in cultural differences between the conflicting parties. She introduced cases of conflict between married couples for example, and explained that stereotype ideas about marriage such as: "household budgets should be controlled by the wife" or "money used for hobbies should be cut down to increase savings" are causing the disagreement. In order to realize this kind of underlying culture rooted in yourself and to overcome troubles caused by the encounter of different cultures, she noted that it is important to deepen understanding for different cultures, and added that in this perspective, ICU students should take advantage of the diverse campus environment of ICU.

At the end of the seminar, participants were asked to share their findings obtained through the discussions. The following are some examples of comments from the students, faculty and staff: "It was our conclusion that talking to each other is most important in overcoming cultural differences," "We discussed why we feel inferior when we feel that we are on the minority side, or is it the other way round...Do we become minority because we feel inferior?" "We discussed that, when you are part of the majority, it is very difficult to realize that you're subconsciously positioning yourself on the majority side".

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