Here it is! The first column I’m writing in Japan! My week of training is over, and I still have one more day before I get into the classroom proper. Some would say that this time should be best spent working; hammering out those first few lesson plans. But it’s just been far too long since I’ve put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as I guess I should start saying). It was such a lovely day, that I didn’t want to be doing this cooped up in my hotel room. So, I packed up the laptop, and this is coming to you from under a tree in park in downtown Kumagaya. I’ve been in Japan for little over a week now, in which I’ve been constantly on the move and the company has been cramming everything that they think there is to know about teaching into my brain. With life being as chaotic as that, I find myself once again craving something simple: constancy.
Continue reading Universal Constants
I have now begun teaching at my school, and one of my fellow foreign teachers is marvelling at what I have been doing. More, what I have not been doing. I haven’t been asking questions. I have yet to have at least one question about living in Japan. The truth is I really don’t have any questions. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly. What is there to question? This may seem all fine and logical now that I have an apartment and money rolling in, but when I think back, I really have never had any questions.
Continue reading The Goal
When my sister was backpacking across Europe, she had the good fortune of staying with a friend of hers in England. This friend was an exchange student back in their high school days. This friend of my sister’s looked at my sister and said, “All of England is open to you! Where do you want to go in England? What do you want to see?” My sister had one very clear goal, and she told this to her friend. My sister wanted to see Stonehenge. This puzzled her friend. She had never been to Stonehenge, and thus didn’t know where it is. Her friend pulled out a map, found Stonehenge, followed the winding roads back to her home, and made a startling discovery. Stonehenge was just 10 minutes away. When my sister was telling me this story, I was agog. How could you live just 10 minutes from Stonehenge and not know it? How could you live just 10 minutes from Stonehenge and never go?
Continue reading Festival
Chuck’s going through a phase right now. It’s called “Angry Young Man” (although he likes to call it “being a responsible human being”). I’m familiar with it. I went through it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though this phase is bad. It just means that every once in a while, Chuck will send me some article on how many children Disney employs in sweatshops to make Mickey Mouse ears, how much rainforest McDonald’s knocks down to raise beef cattle, and just the latest evil doings of Wal-Mart. “Angry Young Man” is the belief that you can make a difference, and I’m sure Chuck gets distressed whenever we have one of the follow-up conversations to the latest article he’s sent me.
Continue reading One Voice