It’s been difficult for me to come up with ideas about what to say on Soapbox, so I asked Mark what kind of things to write about. He said to write about things that make me smile and he sent me this……
This week I was walking through the supermarket and noticed a child staring at me. I stopped, gave mum a quick glance and she smiled, so I said, “What’s your name, little guy?” He shyly looked away. Mum piped up and said to him in Japanese “Anata no namae wa” (what’s your name). The child looked me right in the eye and said text book perfectly, “my name is tomouki matsue.” His mum beamed with satisfaction and pride. The little boy is not one of our students but he is being taught by someone and I smiled at being a part of a teaching community that gave that Mum and Child joy.
This week I was talking to a lady on the train. I do that a lot. This lady was one of three ladies going somewhere together. In Japanese she asked me where I came from and I said, in Japanese, I was born in Germany, to British parents and went to school in Australia. She said IN ENGLISH she had been to Sydney and it was lovely. I asked IN JAPANESE what did you see. And she replied in ENGLISH the bridge and the opera house. I smiled at being there as the “real Macoy” and providing her the opportunity to speak some English and tell of her travels and yes, show off to her friends a little who were suitably impressed and still gabbing on about the episode when I got off two stops later.
Carol, I guess there is no denying it, I love this job. I love this country. I know today before I even walk out the front door as long as I keep and open and friendly face and provide inviting body language someone is going to talk to me. If they don’t I will take a chance as I did with the boy and just barge on in. I love communicating and giving the Japanese the chance to use their English skills in the flesh with a real Gaijin.
His response gave me something to think about. I realized that since something happens everyday that makes me smile, something happens everyday that I can write about. For instance, the other day Yuichi and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood. We met a group of junior high school students on their bicycles. As they drove by, they smiled, waved and shouted, “Hello!” I always encourage kids when they take the time to try out their English, so I said Hello back. One brave boy asked, “How are you?” I answered and said “How ‘bout you?” Everyone laughed at his question and again at my response, but he managed a giggling, “Fine, thanks,” before riding off. For me, it’s always nice to see kids interested enough to use their English when they see a gaijin. I think if we respond it gives them a positive image of foreigners and a reason to continue learning English.