Sometimes, we as AETs (Assistant English Teachers) have the tendency to be a bit negative about our current situation in life. This could be a human disposition as a whole, and perhaps it is only amplified in a foreign country. Whatever the case may be, tonight I want to highlight all the joys of being an AET for both my friends and family back home, and for my friends here.
1. I'm Cool!
Let's face it, all of my life I've been a nerd. Shoot, all of my life I will be a nerd. Always picked last in dodge ball games, always laughed at because I like books and Star Wars sometimes more than girls, and the list goes on and on. But in Japan, I am way cool! I may be the coolest kid in school for all I know! I shout at least a thousand hellos in a day, give high fives like no other, and always get jon-kened (Rock, Paper, Scissors) for dodge ball. How great is that?
2. Being American is Fascinating
In America, being an American, is well, typical. The abnormal is normal, and everyone strives to out do everyone in uniqueness. It's a bit tiresome to a degree. But in Japan the "group" is in which means that everyone is trying to be like everyone else. And to some degree, especially concerning politeness, I try to fit in too. But I'm hired to be an American and that naturally means I possess my weird traits that I get to exhibit daily. People are fascinated by America, and as an AET I am a walking textbook of American life. Scary, neh?
Not only though do I get the chance to be quirky, I also get to teach about more important lessons. Today I had a broken conversation about whether the song "Ten Little Indians" was racially insensitive or not. Let me just tell you, in Japanese that is hard to explain but it is great that they are curious about racial issues and hopefully in the future other issues.
3. Cultural Confusion
It is hilarious to see the confusion that goes on in Japan as they attempt to mimic American culture. My favorite example can be seen on my last blog in the picture of me posing by Yoda-Batman. Can you think of a more heinious mix-up then mixing these two cultural icons? I can. How about little boys and girls who wear the Playboy bunny icon and think it is a cute pink rabbit? Or what about stores called Save-On or Hard-Off? Or cars called "Move" and scooters named "Let's" or "Let's 2?" Wow!
4. Japanese People
Japanese people are extremely polite and courteous, almost anywhere you go. When you go shopping you can bet you bottom Yen that they will go all out to serve you and will serve you with a smile. McDonald's included! We could learn a great deal about how to treat others in service industries by studying the Japanese.
Not only are they polite, they are extremly fun delightful people that are insatiably curious, hard working, and enjoyable. It is hard to get to know Japanese people on a real intimate level but they are probably my favorite people in the world.
The last, and perhaps most important benefit, is the opportunity to serve. It never occured to me until I came to a place predominately atheistic and almost wholistically untouched by Western Christianity how many service opportunities abound. We are not trying to overcome the scars of Christianity's mistakes here, we are simply trying to bring the gospel message to these people who so desperately need it. And that is a unique and tremendous challenge that each AET is blessed with. I hope to write more on this issue later.
So tonight I will go to karaoke with my Japanese friends, sleep on my futon (hopefully for the last time since I'm getting a bed!), and be thankful for the opportunity that God has given me at this point in time. I hope wherever you are you can do the same, no matter what place you find yourself in.