Silly Grins

Monday, April 9, 2012

Interview: Fr gm nt d E ch nge

Part III

W: As far as your experience goes, could you tell us a little bit more about your relations with people at work? It is fascinating, your... you've got a degree in linguistics, you're interested in the language, you obviously have done a lot of studying and you have this, I think it is an incredible language ability... How are your relations with the people who you work with, in your office? And, because you have studied that language so much in linguistics, how do you feel that has been beneficial for your work? 

FT: I is beneficial in my work as I have said before, going to elementary schools. I am sent to elementary schools, me in particular as opposed to other ALTs because I can speak Japanese so I have seen a side of the Japanese education system, i.e. the elementary system, which maybe a lot of the ALTs haven't seen. I mean most ALTs do do occasional elementary school visits, but I'll give you an example... probably the most interesting example for me and it is connected to, perhaps, one of my misconceptions of Japan and perhaps of many westerners' misconceptions of Japan. And that was about two months ago. 

I was approached by an elementary school in ******** called ******** Elementary which I have been to a couple of times before and got on quite well with the headmaster and the vice-principal. I was asked to go to a social studies class as which the teacher would be teaching the students about the Second World War. And they wanted me there to answer any questions the students may have plus to talk a bit about why Britain because I happen to be British, why Britain declared war or how Britain and Japan came to declare war on each other, how Britain got involved in the war with Japan in the Second World War. 

Which for me was interesting because I had the misconception that the war was not taught in Japan. 

And, in fact, I have learned now that this was the case until up to a couple of years from now, ti was in the textbooks, but is was at the end of the textbooks and it was often left out by certain teachers who sort of ran out of time by the end of the term. 

But now it is definitely taught and that class consisted of the teacher talking about the Nanjing Massacre, the invasion and occupation of Korea, and the invasion and occupation of Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, and in pretty gruesome terms and no uncertain terms in telling the kids about how, you know, the Japanese troops have massacred women and children in Nanjing and all of the stuff the we learned in history class but we believe the Japanese don't learn, which was for me, extremely interesting. 

And I would not have that experience if I hadn't been able to speak Japanese. And having been able to take part actively in that class. And that was probably, for me, an example of one of the most beneficial things my Japanese has had for me since I have been here.  


That's it for this interview. I am not a journalist. I just had some questions and happened to meet another person who agreed to talk. The interview was well before recent popular controversy

I have read the late Chang's book and was kind of shocked in a way that I can't really explain when learning of her untimely death. Route 17 is the way some people take to get to work on a daily basis. It has a reputation for being an unforgiving drive. It's also the way some people go when they want to take some time out to see some of nature's beauty. 

So, when talking about change and what people go through, I have a hell-of-a-lot of respect for those who somehow manage to get through it. And there is anger. Anger toward those wasted opportunities for redemption. Often times, it's hard to tell just what's going on. 


  1. Iris looked at the dark and it looked back at her. Most folks keep the blinders on for a reason the goes back to primal days....a kinda self preservation.

    I haven't had a good sleep since I was 13.

    Eyes wide open...even when they're shut.

    1. When Loco wrote of the chrysalis, all I could think of being there, witnessing the Monarchs. And only days later, I laid eyes on a collection of countless wings and wanted to be able to remember them all.

      Today, on my way in, I thought of the abyss and what it meant to a woman who said she'd see it. The vastness made her weep in her mask as she drifted virtually motionless on the edge of eternity; she cried because it was so fucking beautiful. Her drift-dive was somewhere out along the Kwajalein Atoll, her back to the shelf as she looked across and down into nothing but forever blue.

      Her son and I, whenever we meet, end up talking till our voices crack. We always seem to be having the most honest conversations about how amazing life still is if you're not trying to jam yourself inside the box. He's better at not doing it than I am, by far.

      As for sleepless nights... there's a card or two that I haven't shown. Not that I think that they can help or even are intended to... just made me stop and think. Real hard. Like about looking into a mirror; that post I'd had no idea about.And not that I think life is a game, because I most certainly don't.

      Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write about spoons and integration or integration and then spoons. Then maybe the malocclusion(s).

      Not like this makes any sense, but it does...

  2. Interesting. Growing up in an area where the indigenous people had been decimated, people often complained that the details were glossed over/ignored but I remember being taught a very non-sugar coated version of it at school. Thank god for teachers who do that. I sure beats ignorance.

    1. I remember being at late one night, at a pub, and there was a special on the TV that no one seemed to be paying attention to. They were showing footage, I believe, that had to do with the frostbite experiments. That was in Tohoku. You may have been up there and through some of the area.

      As for indigenous people, the Ainu were only recently recognized... 2008 by the government. I kind of tripped out when I first read that. One of the known secrets no one is supposed to, or was supposed to, talk about. There are huge chunks of social memory that seem to be displaced. Or maybe just sitting there. The overall official indifference and lack of enthusiasm for discovery of the certain aspects of the past (exploration) takes some getting used to at times.

      Yeah, I'm thankful for the teachers who were/are able to go beyond sanitized textbooks. No need to invent anything new. It's all there if people would just look.

      Thanks for dropping in.

  3. I read that book after her death without even knowing that she'd died. I just learned of it reading this post. Haunting...

    1. Admittedly, after first hearing the news, I was suspicious.