Early April, I attended a conservation conference in London held by ICON (Institute of Conservation). This was my first time at an international meeting, but it actually didn't feel much of a difference from conferences held in Japan.
There is one experience from London that has stuck with me.
There was a group of young Japanese conservators conversing with local young conservators, passionately explaining the methods and functions of karibari in English, which of course is not their first language. Beside them is the local translator, nonchalantly speaking in fluent Japanese. Eager students taking memos of lectures, word for word in English. All of these scenes showed me that the language and cultural barriers between countries are fading rapidly.
After returning to Japan, my trusty cell phone of one year began acting up, making it very difficult to hear my phone calls. It turns out that the phone was not broken at all, but my plastic screen protector was simply covering the holes, making it hard to hear. The clerk at this local shop window was not Japanese, but quietly listened and helped me with my 'problem'. Even in a small town such as Mino, I am experiencing the lack of barriers between languages, cultures and countries.
Through these very different experiences in London and in Mino, I feel firsthand that borders between countries are gradually fading and I am glad that I attended the ICON conference (though I do feel guilty for abandoning my paper making work during that time...)