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On March 6, 2015, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Austria in Tokyo, Japan to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Bernhard Zimberg. The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country located in central Europe.
Austria’s geology, which was shaped during a similar time to Japan’s time period, has interesting similarities with the geography of Japan. Both countries have young mountainous ranges, as 75 % of Austria’s land area is covered with the Eastern Alps mountain range. The coming and going of ice ages formed lakes and valleys in Austria, which are now very popular tourist attractions. Austria and Japan are also similar in the sense that both countries have a limited amount of minerals, live in harsh climates, and have little vegetation. In Austria, there is only one season for harvesting agricultural products. This shaped the country’s civilization and craft culture, from the need to manage the scarcity of resources. Both countries have their traditional ways of preserving food and crops with feelings of gratitude towards nature.
German is the common and teaching language of Austria. English is the country’s main foreign language, and is taught and spoken in places all over the nation. Since 1989, the opening year of the country, Austria has been adapting neighbouring languages for educational options, including Czech, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Italian. These local languages are offered in regional schools. Other language minorities in the country include Croatian and Slovenian, which are taught in schools of certain districts.
The educational system includes primary and secondary school, university, and post-graduate education. Austrian education focuses on raising children as long as possible, and to offer a diverse selection of subjects. The Ambassador mentioned that the main cultural value of the Austrian people is the importance of individualism. People in Austria tend to concentrate individually, rather than cooperate in groups. Austrian people travel in small groups, instead of in collective methods such as bus touring, which is also popular in Japan. The Ambassador commented that traveling in small groups allows the tourists to absorb and interact with the local cultures with more ease.
His Excellency Mr.Zimberg, explained that in the time of 1970s, many Japanese students were all over the world studying internationally. As the number of Japanese students studying abroad are decreasing, he suggests Japanese students to have curiosity and observe the world they do not know about. “The trend should be reversed and Japanese students should be outgoing again” Mr.Zimberg states. As an ambassador, he makes effort to improve this organizing youth exchanges so that students can learn in multicultural societies. Throughout the interview, he taught us that experience is part of our growth as he announces to the students to “Go and see the world.”
(Reported by Madoka Nishina & Kate Shimizu)
Madoka Nishina 11th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 11th Seisen International School
Kurumi Onishi 10th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 5th Saint Maur International School
Haruka Shiga 5th Saint Maur International School