Over our lives each of us gathers experiences. In fact, that’s all life is; a collection of experiences. Some good, some not so good. Having lived abroad from the age of 8 my experiences differ from many of my friends here in Japan; not better, just different. So what have all my travels taught me? It’s hard to put it into words but I’ll give it a shot. In the last 20 years the world has undergone an incredible shift from countries being somewhat self-supportive to a world in which now we’re all so very connected. More and more Japanese are able to speak English (compared to when I first arrived) and nearly all of my students at Smith’s 英会話 Hirakata (枚方) have had the chance to travel overseas. Some have even been lucky enough to have lived abroad thanks in part to the working holiday visa. While some of my younger students (kids) have trouble seeing the value of English, once one steps out of Japan it becomes abundantly clear just how much English has become a part of life even in non-native English speaking countries. Thailand is a perfect example, back in the late 80’s it was hard to get around without Thai. Taxi drivers couldn’t speak English, nor could shop clerks, there were more than a few times when I felt like pulling my hair out in getting assistance. But today it’s a whole new ballgame. Thanks to tourism getting around Thailand with English is no problem whatsoever. It seems that any country that undergoes huge economic boom will inevitably import English as it’s the business language.
English, in no small part thanks to America, has become the language of choice for business. China will have a large role in world economics for many years to come but America has been blessed with almost unlimited natural resources, a solid infrastructure, and despite the Lehman Brothers crash and the subprime debacle there is no mistaking America’s role in the world today.
Through talking with people from all over the world I’ve learnt the obvious; that people are people the world over. While we may have very different religious views, political opinions, likes and dislikes. Each and every one of us is in search of our goals, whatever they may be. What is amazing is being able to pull from a group of individuals with different viewpoints, they help us see the things we don’t. And English makes this possible. It’s simply amazing to see a group consisting of Americans, British, Chinese, Japanese, French and whoever all discussing the same topic with one common language.
I, like many of us, wonder what the future holds for us. Life is full of twists and turns but one thing’s for sure, it makes for great drama. I love facing new challenges and encourage everyone to expand their own vision of the future.