The title is a mouthful, I know, but here are a few musings.
When I first walked into the center’s office, there was a major problem. Whenever I write, no matter the language, I tend to perfect my language so that I say what I want to say with the necessary eloquence. In English, it works out ok, because I can speak the language, but the problem I had was that the director of the activity center had a preconception that I was more skilled at Japanese than I actually was, which made it slightly awkward when talking about what I would be doing and what the center does. But we managed, somehow, to come to an agreement that I would come once a week on Wednesdays.
My first day, I was scared, to be honest. The staff had put the fear that I wouldn’t be able to understand anything into me, but it actually turned out well. We had talked about Zainichi Koreans in class a little bit, so I understood their background, but it was just nice to listen for a change. In class, it’s stressful for someone like me who is normally taciturn to always be speaking. I generally prefer to listen and to act than to speak, because I never was very good at gathering my thoughts in English even. And I really like going, because it’s nice to hear stories about their lives, especially since they would be much different than the average person in Japan. Sometimes they mix in Korean, and then I’m lost, but it’s a curious situation, because I’d really like to learn at least how to read hangul. I generally help out and clean after they leave for the day, and I’ve enjoyed the experience greatly. I’d like to continue going next semester, even if it isn’t for my CIP.
As a CIP, it’s not very exciting if you look at the logs. When you do the same things over and over, most people wouldn’t like it. But it’s fun to connect to a past generation with whom I share almost nothing besides the fact we breathe. You learn things you wouldn’t otherwise, because the weight of experiences and memories shape each person differently. In some ways, I’m following down an analogous path; even though I was born in the US, I’ve never quite felt right at home, even if I speak the language well and interact in society. If I opened my mouth half the time to my peers to say what I wanted to say, rather than what should be said, I’d imagine people would be maybe a bit surprised, such are the differences I hold. But I’ve rambled for a bit, so I’ll finish with this: In such a place, home is where the heart is. Times change, places change, people change, so in such a world, those closest to you are the walls which support you.