1. What ‘s LunchTrip
Lunch Trip is a social group project formed to learn about different cultures through cuisines from various parts of the world. We “travel around the world” by having lunch and hearing stories shared by people who have stayed, traveled or lived in the chosen foreign countries.
So far, we have taken “trips” more than 40 times, often collaborating with embassies and companies. Outside of Tokyo, there is also LunchTrip Fukuoka, Shizuoka and Osaka Branch.
We call the lunches “flights” and our “Crews” help passengers to enjoy your experience.
I started this LunchTrip on 2008, because I had something to change.
Today, I will talk it- why I came up with the idea.
When I was 20 years old, I studied at Oregon, United States for exchange program.
I studied Diversity or multi –cultures in the Education area.
My roommate was Mexican and she hated U.S.. My next roommate was Native American and she had lots of problem in her family. I have learned many aspects of America , which I did not know through TV and newspapers.
I was surprised that many American students still have stereotype to Japanese- They think we are always serious in front of library, since most of Japanese students always get together and only some American who like Japanese culture get close to them. They think we eat sushi everyday, not the right sushi but sushi with a Mango on.
So I decided to take an actions: I was someone who luckily got in the community of American student who is not interested in Japan at all, so I hold the Hand Rolling Sushi party there. It tuned out this was the great, fun way to overcome stereotype. So I repeated three times for the people who are my friends, but who are not interested in Japan that much.s
What I learned in a year, in simple 5 words, “We were full of stereotype”
3. Shocking incident
After studying for 10months, I moved to California for an internship. On the TV news , I saw an unforgettable accident near my house: It said that a man was killed because he had a turban on his head. “Islam, is the enemy of America” That was the murder’s motive to commit the crime. Moreover, there is a shocking fact. The Victim was not Islam, he was a Sikihism. You can find many Sikihism people in India.
So there were 2 misunderstandings. 1, Islam is not the enemy of America. 2, Turban is not equal to Islam.
This kind of crime is called “Hate Crime” , and it is not something new. It happens quite often in the U.S., so people were not really surprised. That was pretty shocking for me.
4.Diversity in Japan
After I came back to Japan, I have started to volunteer in primary school in Shinohkubo , which 60% of students have foreign roots. Most of them try to assimilate themself to Japanese cultures. They seem to delete their parts of foreigners.
At the same time, I started to learn diversity in Japan. Have you talked to Ainu people in Hokkaido before? Do you know they are still angry in the mainland people to Japan and can you imagine how they and their families were bullied? Honestly, I did not know at all until I went to talk to them. How about Okinawa? What kind of Okinawa stereotype do we have? Two lands were taken over by us- mainland people, and we often forget how they feel about it.
Do you know that Yokohama, Gunma, Shizuoka, Osaka are having deep diversity in the school?
Before I went to U.S. I thought Japan is homogenous, but it is not. There is diversity in this country.
And there will be more.
I thought of the hate crime in Japan.
If we don’t understand each other, hate crime will happen here.
How can we prevent it and create better society?
5. My favorites are my solution
The answer was unison of something I love. Travel, Party and foods. Those were essential to my life, and that was the easiest solution for me.
By traveling you find out something new. Your stereotype changed often when you travel, right? Even though we do not travel, we have different cuisines/restaurants all over Japan and we can share the experience.
And if there are great people having lunch together, it wont be that bad. Actually it is going to be awesome party!
Talking the idea to two best friends- Naho and Kyoko, and inviting friends, activity started on 2008. It was small lunch group, but became bigger and bigger, and now Mr.Ikegami came, and Manoo Yamashita-san came, because they agree with our goal.
We have been collaborating with 6 different embassies,
TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazine is featuring us, and our seats were always taken a week before the events.
6. Can Lunch Change the World?
Sometimes we ask ourselves, can just a lunch change world?
No, not yet. Maybe it is better to plant a tree, charity for primary school, going to Syria and help children, or just go to Bhutan to have lunch there- I would love to all of those.
But we can change the perspective, or interest, or the way to see of people have work and can not travel that often.
There were some passenger s who really traveled to Tanzania after LucnhTrip to Tanzania. Some have started to care the TV news after they came to LunchTrip to Egypt. Some have made friends there and have been going out since then.
Some changed the way travel- they started to talk to local people , spend money at local stores instead of getting on banana boat and being in the luxury hotel all the day.
Some have even got married!
Some has used the knowledge what they learned at LunchTrip at work or professional meeting.
We have not change the world, but have changed the part of world of our passengers.
If we continue this ,many stereotype will change and I believe we will have better world.
7.Message to Students
If you have some thing to change it, you can start by anything in front of you, especially your favorite.
Your favorite things will lead you and take you to another world, if you love it its gonna be very quick.
So now, please fasten your seatbelt and let us take off on a great trip together.