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.