Learning to paint kimono patterns was a perfect way for agents and educators to bond at English UK's fair in Kyoto.
Trying out the traditional art on handkerchief-sized squares of cloth was a new experience for everyone, even agents based in Japan, and helped to cement relationships built during formal daytime meetings.
"We shared some really special experiences," said Roz Rozidor, English UK's International Manager who led the fair. "The Japanese agents really appreciated the cultural things we did, because they were things that they hadn't personally tried. The silk painting, and our farewell dinner with geisha performance, were unique and privileged opportunities for them, and for the rest of us.
"It also helped that the presentations we ran had very interactive elements. For instance, there was a session on our core group statistics for the region, where we talked about the figures we had – and then asked the agents to join the discussion about whether that reflected their experiences. That really helped us all work together."
The fair, which included two full days of workshops as well as three evening social and cultural sessions to encourage the participants to form deep and lasting partnerships, was popular with the many first-timers among English UK members as well as agents. With 35 English UK members and 45 agencies from across the Asia Pacific region, as well as five exhibitors, it was fully booked with a waiting list.
Lynne Hoenes, of Hilderstone College in Kent, said it had been "an excellent, well-organised workshop providing an opportunity to meet quality agents and form new partnerships. My first experience of this event and I will definitely attend another."
Another first-timer, Richard Gorst of St Clare's in Oxford liked the "excellent mix of schools and agents" and thought the organization of the event, the workshop and the social activities was "perfect". And Janette Donjon of The Sheffield College, who had previous experience of English UK fairs, found it an "outstanding" experience, adding: "One of the best fairs to date. Excellent prospects with conscientious agents. A definite bonus was the Yuzen silk decoration – a great idea!"
Agents were also pleased. David Willoughby of SI-UK in Japan, praised it as "a very useful networking opportunity which has allowed SI-UK to identify potential new partners as well as reconnect with a few partners we have not been active with in over recent years." Yuichi Shibamura of EIEN in Japan said: "I appreciate that I could learn a lot of things about the UK and the schools. Now I am very interested in working with some of the schools."
The next English UK Fair for the Asia Pacific region will be held in Xi'an, China from Tuesday 13 - Friday 16 October 2015 at the Hilton Xi'an. Full details and registration will go live on the English UK Fairs Website at the end of October.
View the English UK Fair, Kyoto 2014 image gallery.
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