Camille Weisgant: Kyoto Arts Center

Because I am both a Japanese Studies and Theatre double major, it was important to me to be able to be involved in the arts community in some way while abroad to supplement my studies at KCJS. The CIP program was the perfect time to get in touch with my creative side during my time in Kyoto; for both these reasons I began volunteering at the Kyoto Arts Center, whose mission is to connect not only theatre artists, but dancers and visual artists as well, with the city, the general public, and other people involved in the arts. Furthermore, the center works hard to foster young and up and coming Japanese artists, who otherwise would not have the means to practice their art, by letting them use resources such as studio space for free, giving them platforms for readings and showing of their work, and being host to an artist in residence program. This objective in particularly is close to me, as I myself am a young artist, and realize how difficult it is to commit yourself to art when you are not being supported. The Kyoto Arts Center offers young artists the kind of support I wish I could bring back with me to New York City, if I do indeed decide to take on the big, bad performing arts world there after I graduate.

Volunteering at the Kyoto Arts Center has allowed me to be exposed to an artistic community unlike any other community I have experienced during my time in Japan. The Arts Center actually attracts over 200 volunteers, young and old, Japanese and foreign, meaning that every time I work I am interacting with a different strata of Kyoto residents. Not only that, but because I have volunteered serving various events at the center, I have also had the opportunity to meet patrons and artists. Volunteering at events as an usher, I have learned vital language with regards to communicate with the public, such as how to properly welcome visitors, how to give directions, and how to enforce rules in the building. Additionally, I have offered my English skills in order to edit some translated articles and interviews for the center’s newsletter. Via all of these interactions and events, I have been introduced to local performance and visual artists that I would not have known about otherwise.

Overall, volunteering for the Kyoto Arts Center was a great way to get involved in the Japanese artistic community. I was able to interact with a vast Japanese community, and participate in interesting events at the center. However, because the center has so many steady volunteers already, I did not get specific projects to work on or regular, weekly volunteer work. Every time I worked I met many new volunteers, but never established lasting relationships. Nonetheless, I hope that my volunteer work there contributed in small part to their mission of supporting the diversity of the Kyoto artistic community, and fostering it’s young members.

Nguyen Phuong Anh: Ikebana

Ikebana, or Kado (花道), the way of flowers, teaches me more than simply how to arrange flowers. It is a discipline through which Japanese people express their philosophy of life as well as their culture.

From my experience, simplicity seems to be method towards attaining beauty and perfection in ikebana. Whenever my ikebana sensei, Ishikawa-sensei, fixes my work, she always mentions that if I think a branch, a few buds, or even multiple leaves are unnecessary to the form, I must not hesitate to cut them out. In order to reveal what is important, one should eliminate any distractions. I find this philosophy very enticing, and actually practical, as it helps me gain determination carrying out my intention.

Interestingly, although ikebana may seem entirely like a creative expression, within its core lies a set of rules expected to be followed. Depending on the season, only certain flowers are chosen to be arranged.  As the meaning of each flower varies, certain ones are meant for certain events. In addition, practitioners must sit in seiza form, hold their scissors properly, and cut the stem at the right angle. Then comes the rules of arranging a specific style itself. The length of the stem, the direction and angle of the flower, and the vessel used vary depending on what style the practitioner chooses. This is Saga Goryu’s approach to achieve 「花を知り、花と語らう、その心と技」.


Such rules, I believe, are to help the practitioner reach simplicity in the final work easier.


However austere my description of practicing ikebana may sound, my experience with ikebana, in fact, teaches me how to be happy. Through hard work and complicated rules, the final work is a simple expression of achievement. Then with some tea and sweets, we reflect on our work, on the process we have been through, and be content with a simple flower in the centre.

I also found a contradiction between my expectation and reality while practicing at sensei’s house. I’ve always imagined a serene setting with high concentration, but there were a lot of interactions among the senpais during practice. In addition to admiring and commenting on the work after someone finishes arranging, the conversations between senpais revolve around daily life things as well.

My experience with ikebana through doing CIP has been a combination of both modern and traditional Japan. While the teachings are strict, the environment within the sensei’s house is completely casual. It is amazing to see both happening at the same time and place.

Daizhen Zheng: Impact HUB Kyoto

It was a great experience working at Impact HUB Kyoto with the other KCJS students and HUB staff over this semester. Impact HUB Kyoto is a place where creative people gather and work on different programs that connect and inspire people. At HUB, I mainly worked as a translator to translate event blogs, instructions and flyers from Japanese to English.

The working environment in Impact HUB could not be better, as it is located in a traditional Japanese style building where there is a bamboo forest in the yard, a Noh stage and tatami rooms on the second floor. At the beginning of the semester, we had a couple of meetings where we got to know different HUB members and had a general idea about how HUB works. We were also individually interviewed on our background and specific things we were interested in. I chose to do the translation along with another KCJS student Baylee, as translation from Japanese to English is a good practice of my language skills outside the class.

Aside from the translation work, we were also welcomed to attend any of the HUB events. I participated in an event about Shugendo, a combination of Shinto and Buddhism, during which I took photos and shot videos. Even though the guest speaker’s words were difficult to understand, as the event was related to religions, one of the HUB staff, Eri-san, was interpreting for us for the whole time. I would not have been able to understand everything without her help. After the event, I was also asked to write my thoughts on the event.

Translating from Japanese to English is a huge challenge for me, as it is difficult to find equivalent words in English (sometimes it is even impossible). When I started out translating, I had a hard time understanding the meaning of some long sentences in the blog, and I turned to the HUB staff for help. When I finished translating one article, HUB staff would go over it and then post it online. It was a great pleasure seeing your own translation work on their website. Even though translation was very time-consuming, and  it was easy to get bored, HUB has always been a place to relax. It was an unforgettable experience overall.

It is worth mentioning that every week we had a general meeting that basically lasted  for an hour and half. During the meeting, there was a “check-in” part and a “check-out” part, both of which were a good opportunity to share with the other interns and HUB staff about school lives, personal experiences in Kyoto, etc. I appreciate that HUB staff were patiently listening to my talks, even though sometimes I was too nervous to think about anything interesting to say. Whenever I had questions or I wanted to ask for permission, I got to practice oral Japanese in different occasions. Even though every week I spent about five hours working at HUB Kyoto, I think it was worth time and effort doing it.

Briana Freeman: English Conversation Circle and Assistant English Teacher

Because of the differences between the Japanese school year and the KCJS school year, I assisted at a junior high English class only three times.

Most of my assisting consisted of standing awkwardly to the side of sensei’s desk, doing what sensei asked but failing to be outgoing in the slightest. I dreaded the time at the end of class when the students worked on their homework (or more often, talked amongst themselves), as sensei would then cheerily encourage me to walk about the room offering help and asking if the student’s had any questions. I don’t generally consider myself a shy person, but talking to junior high students, especially those of a different culture and language, was terrifying. There was such a stark contrast between the JET volunteer that was there for half a class, bright and upbeat, and me, who stood nervously trying not to let my discomfort show. I don’t think I could ever teach young children.

This CIP presented a precarious situation to navigate; I was only an assistant, not a teacher. Once, I was asked to read aloud a translation of Momotaro. I stumbled over several incorrect parts, hesitated and blushed when I had to say, “Oh, my God!,” but didn’t mention the errors. The translation was not from a textbook, and if sensei had done it herself I definitely couldn’t point out her mistakes in front of the class.

I often wondered if the only time the students interacted with foreigners was in English class. I sometimes felt like a cultural ambassador, a representative of America for the young teens of my classes. My first day there involved the students asking questions in English and me responding. For example, questions like, “What is your favorite food?” My favorite food, if I had to choose one, is collard greens. But since tons of Americans I’ve talked to haven’t even heard of that, I racked my brain for a food easier to understand. To my everlasting horror, I said, “Cheeseburgers.” How much more stereotypically American can you get? Everyone (including me) laughed and I imagined I heard a few “yappari”’s from around the room.

Despite my shyness, I did encounter quite a few students whose enthusiasm encouraged me; a boy whose pronunciation was excellent, a girl whose penmanship was especially beautiful. Despite English being a required class, there were some who genuinely seemed interested in learning it well. And, one-on-one, kids didn’t seem so intimidating. Maybe I’m not cut out for teaching little kids, but I feel as if I could be a good tutor.

One thing that really surprised me was the low amount of discipline in the classroom. Students would often talk out of turn or interrupt the teacher, but sensei didn’t tell them to stop. It seemed in such contrast to the impression I’d had before coming to Japan: quiet students, respectfully bowing to the teacher before class while saying “Good morning” in unison. I wonder what other Japanese junior high schools are like. But then, I can only compare to my own school experience, which was pretty strict.

I participated in my other CIP, an English conversation circle, three times as well.

The leader and members seemed close; he would often address the women with “-chan” instead of “-san.” I was very surprised at first, but maybe the group is more laid-back than I had assumed. After all, everyone would go out to a bar together after the weekly meeting. In my eight months here, I have seen drinking parties appear in a variety of contexts (business, college clubs, conversation circles, etc.) to aid in socializing and create a friendly atmosphere. It seems an important part of Japanese’ social lives. Since the circle met on Tuesday nights, though, I was never able to participate in this particular social event. I suspect they did much of their group bonding over drinks, and I’m disappointed I missed out on getting to know any of them better.

I learned on the first night that conversation circles consist of a lot of self-introductions. Once you got past the preliminaries, though, it was a great opportunity to speak to a wide variety of interesting people. For example, one guy asked me to teach him some idioms, which made me realize just how weird phrases like “Don’t have a cow” really are. It made me want to learn some Japanese idioms; I wonder if there are any with cows…

There were also some interesting linguistic moments (shout out to Yotsukura-sensei’s class). For example, I noticed was when a woman used “like” as a filler when speaking. It sounded so natural, I knew she must have studied or lived abroad. When asked, (yappari) she answered she’d lived in Seattle for awhile. Although it was just one word, that “like” differentiated her from all the other Japanese I had spoken to that night. I hope I can achieve such naturalness in Japanese!

Emily Scoble: Kyoto Cooking Circle and KLEXON

This semester I participated in two CIPs, the Kyoto Cooking Circle and KLEXON, an English conversation circle.   The Kyoto Cooking Circle unfortunately only meets once a month, but I was able to attend a few meetings, cook some delicious food and have interesting conversations with the people I have met there.  KLEXON meets almost every week, and a volunteer session involves speaking with people both one-on-one as well as in small group settings.  In participating in both of my CIPs, I interacted with many people who spoke Japanese but were also looking to practice English, or other foreign languages, so it was interesting to be able to easily see the differences in interactions in both English and Japanese.

At a typical Kyoto Cooking Circle meeting, members are divided into tables where we first listen to a teacher’s instruction on how to prepare the entire meal.  This explanation is usually a fairly formal speech style, but members are able to interject with questions or comments if needed.   When we return to our tables, the conversation topics are usually fairly casual, as we talk about ourselves and cook the meal together and, unless the members recognize each other from a previous meeting and speak more casually, desu/masu style is usually used.  Conversation over the meal is usually fun and it is a great feeling to enjoy a meal that everyone has helped to prepare.  After everyone is finished, there is a “self-introduction” time, something that is very Japanese.  Even if we may have been speaking casually before, these self-introductions are usually pretty formal, as well as formulaic in their content and expressions.  Still, it is always interesting to hear about people’s occupations or hobbies, in addition to the names of people from different tables, before everyone cleans up the kitchen together.

KLEXON has also been an interesting experience, and I have had the opportunity to speak to many different people, both college students and young workers.  While speaking one-on-one has primarily been in English, many of my group sessions have used Japanese to converse.  It has been a good experience to speaking in-depth about various topics with a wide variety of people, and I have learned a good deal about people’s personal experiences, Japanese culture or even recommended spots around Kyoto.  All in all, my CIPs have afforded me the opportunity to meet many different people, with some good conversations and meals as well.

Anna Andriychuk: Assistant English Teacher

For my spring CIP, I volunteered as an Assistant English Teacher at Ohara Gakuin, a school consisting of grades 1 through 9, in the small town of Ohara. Since I had initially hoped to participate in the JET program after graduation, I thought I would try my hand at teaching english during my time in Kyoto. Even though this experience taught me that JET is not the best path for me to follow, I do not regret the time I spent at Ohara. It offered me a glimpse of Japanese culture that I would never have seen otherwise, and left me with many great memories. The best part is that it allowed me to make friends with some of my favorite people in Japan; that they happen to be ten year olds just makes for a better story.

My volunteer experience in Japan reaffirmed both my love of children and my slight fear of teenagers. It also challenged many of the things that I thought I knew about Japanese schools, students, and the education system in Japan. One think that struck me at Ohara was how self-sufficient that students are expected to be. From my experience watching Japanese dramas, I was already familiar with the fact that students are largely responsible for sweeping classrooms, cleaning bathrooms, and just generally keeping the school clean. I was surprised, however, by the students’ many other responsibilities. I do not know whether or not this is common in Japanese schools, but Ohara Gakuin did not have a cafeteria. The students would carry prepared food from the kitchen to their homerooms and a few of them would take turns serving it to their classmates and teachers. The desks would be pushed together so that everyone could chat together while they ate. After everyone finished, the students would dispose of the remaining food and return all the dishes to the kitchen. I would never expect to see this type of responsibility given to second and third graders at American schools.

However, not all of these activities were tedious. The school also had a PA system which the students were fully in charge of. They would broadcast morning announcements and play music during lunch. To my surprise (and slight dismay), I had to make my introduction speech and say my goodbyes over the loudspeaker. In general, despite having some responsibilities that many American parents would condemn as being too much for small children, I found the degree of self-sufficiency and freedom to be really interesting and new.

As one would expect, many of my observations concerned the nature of English education at Ohara. Unfortunately, I was often frustrated at the teaching style and I now understand why so many Japanese students struggle so much with English. The teaching method is centered on memorization and repetition. While memorizing words and sentence patterns are important, they are useless without understanding the underlying grammar. This inefficiency was made most clear to me when I was assisting the 8th grade class on the day they had a presentation quiz. They had been memorizing a short story (a very simplified retelling of E.T.) for several days, and would have to present the story in front of the class, without the text in front of them. During practice, I listened while one of the students recited the story word for word. After he finished, I asked him whether he understood what he had just recited. He smiled and said no. As it turned out, he was one of the better students in the class. Many didn’t care enough to memorize the story, laughed their way through the presentation while reading directly from the book. Whether the students just didn’t do their work or actively disrupted the class, the teachers just basically turned a blind eye. In America, the teacher would have sent the kid to the principal’s office, called his parents, yelled, or done a number of things. But in my experience, the teacher never simply ignored it. While the 6-9th grades were tough sometimes, the younger grades were really fun to be around. Not only were they often as good or better at English than the upper grades, they seemed genuinely enthusiastic about learning. Although that doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Ultimately, however, I was only able to observe ten weeks in one school of several thousands in Japan. I can also admit that I was observing it all through an impartial eye. I learned English fairly quickly and efficiently in three or so years because I was already living and studying in America. Learning and teaching English in a non-english speaking country will have its share of difficulties and inefficiencies, and Japan is no exception. As for the 8-10 year old friends I’ve made, I hope I get a chance to meet them again in the future and see how much they’ve improved.

Alexa VanDemark: Koto Lessons

When I started learning koto back in September, it was a musical experience like I’ve never had. From the beginning, I considered the presence of both “uchi” and “soto” within that world. Is the student in the sphere of “uchi?” Or maybe “soto?” As it turns out, it’s not black and white – both are valid, though I think one is more appropriate to my particular situation that the other.

In America, I have taken clarinet, piano, and guitar lessons, among others, and they were all done in local music studios. This kind of lesson is certainly a “soto” experience. I would go to a school-like building with individual classrooms, take my lessons in the room that my teacher is renting, and leave that room when my lesson is over. On top of that, because my teachers were borrowing those rooms from the music studio owners, doesn’t that mean that my teachers were also in a “soto” sphere within that space? You can hardly call that an emotionally close experience. However, my koto lessons here in Kyoto are taught at my teacher’s, Noda-sensei’s, own home. Considering that, I had to consider whether this was an “uchi” or “soto” world, in comparison to the clearly “soto” world of my previous lessons. If I were to say “soto,” there are certain formal and polite interactions to consider. For instance, when my teacher is talking to me, not only about her other students and acquaintances, she uses the Kansai-ben word “iharu.” I wondered why on earth she would use keigo with me, her considerably younger student. Through using this language, though she uses it out of kindness, it’s as though my teacher is carefully handling our teacher-student relationship to keep a social barrier between us.

Though I say that, I find the argument that this situation is “uchi” more compelling. Because my lessons are done in my teacher’s home, there are also plenty of experiences that aren’t “soto.” For example, because I’m going into someone’s house, I have to use the appropriate greetings, and sometimes I meet members of my teacher’s family by coincidence. I was recently talking to my teacher about the coming of spring, and I asked if she was planning on going to a hanami. She responded that although she wasn’t planning to go, since she dislikes the bugs that live in the sakura and the crowds that accompany a hanami experience, she can enjoy the ume in her own backyard garden, and opened the shoji separating the classroom and the living area so that I could see through to the ume outside. If I had been taking these lessons in a music studio, there’s no way I could have had this experience.

On top of that, lessons aren’t the only thing I receive from my teacher. She lends me a koto for free so that I can practice on my own at my host family’s house, and so that I don’t have to spend money on my own music, she lets me borrow her own sheet music to copy at school for a fraction of the cost. In addition to that, because I am doing my independent study on the tegotomono genre of koto music, my teacher has given me various things in preparation for that project. For instance, because she works as a koto performer in addition to teaching lessons, she gave me three CDs of tegotomono music that she recorded to use as sources – all for free! These kinds of experiences where I receive all these things from my teacher are certainly “uchi.” That is to say, all of the above-mentioned freebies that I received would normally be paid for, and would be a “soto” relationship, right? But Noda-sensei is not only my teacher, but also my mentor, and as such she helps in any way she can to make my experience a good one, which convinces me that this is more of an “uchi” relationship than a “soto” one.

Of course, you could reasonably say it’s “soto or “uchi” – it all depends on what specific experiences you consider to be more telling. However, I have found that my relationship with Noda-sensei is more meaningful than the relationships I have had with previous private lesson instructors, and so I consider it to be “uchi.” If I were to take lessons again when I return to America, I have to wonder if I’ll pay attention to these same kinds of interactions more than before I took my koto lessons.

Baylee Williams: Impact Hub Kyoto

My Community Involvement Project was interning at Impact Hub Kyoto. Throughout my time there, I translated a variety of documents including blogs, flyers, and instructions. Before going to Impact Hub Kyoto, my dream was to become a Japanese to English translator; however, translating at Impact Hub Kyoto helped to change my mind. Sitting for hours on end staring at a computer screen and constantly googling words, phrases, and grammar structures that I did not understand became quite exhausting. Even though Jim, one of my fellow students, cracked jokes to help alleviate our frustration and worked with me on the translations, I still found myself bored and aggravated most of the time I was there. When the two of us were translating one of the more difficult blogs, it occurred to me that I do not want to be trapped working in a job like this for the rest of my life. I want my life to consist of more than pouring over paperwork at a desk, especially paperwork that does not inspire me. This, however, is not to say that I hated translating at Impact Hub Kyoto. On the contrary, I found it to be a very useful experience. Translating at Impact Hub Kyoto has given me guidance for my future by helping to narrow down my search for future career possibilities. Moreover, I appreciated the experience of translating; it gave me valuable insight into how the Japanese language functions and some of the many similarities and differences between English and Japanese. Impact Hub Kyoto was more than just an opportunity to translate though.
Through Impact Hub Kyoto, I learned more about how Japan functions as a society. I witnessed the exchange of give-and-take firsthand. Whenever one of the members of Impact Hub Kyoto was ever given anything, or even if they only went to buy some food at the local convenience store, they always shared some of what they had. I feel like this mirrors how people in Japanese society often buy souvenirs for friends, family members, and coworkers whenever they go traveling. Soon Jim and I found ourselves doing the same thing. If we went to buy some strawberries, then we would buy some for them too. This somewhat elaborate system continues to fascinate me as I become further entangled in it. It has also affected my mindset regarding buying souvenirs for friends and family members back in the United States. I have noticed myself constantly wondering if I should buy a souvenir for this person or that person, even if I do not know them very well. I wonder if this will also continue to affect my habits even after I return to the United States.
Overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to intern at Impact Hub Kyoto, because it allowed me to experience a different aspect of Japanese society that I otherwise would not have been able to experience. It has helped to change my life goals for the better, and now I understand more of what I want from a job in the future.

Vanessa Tenazas: Zenryuji Nursery School

Building on my experiences last semester, this spring I focused much of my attention on the general concept of “teacher” as understood by the children at the daycare. In exploring the various roles they play in the daily life of the attendees, I also became fascinated by how the ways a teacher corrects a child not only reflects something about the teacher, but also by how it affects the child developmentally.

My observations have led me to identify a “teacher” at the daycare as one who simultaneously act in 3 major roles: as one who guides, as one who dotes, and as one who disciplines.

As a guide, a teacher instructs a child on acceptable moral behavior. For example, they may interrupt or arbitrate a dispute and then ensure that apologies or concessions are made appropriately. This role of course also encompasses the teachings of daily life, such as proper manners and routine living (e.g. greetings, washing hands before a meal, etc.).

Teachers are also, at least at this stage, something of a playmate to the children. Physical affection through hugs and tickling seems to build a sort of trust and intimacy between the two that, in my opinion, enables the teacher to fulfill their other roles more effectively. That is, while they inevitably have to correct a child, the physical affection communicates to the child in a concrete way that a teacher is not always so distant an entity, but instead one who emulates a parent.

Finally, as a disciplinarian, the teacher employs various methods to correct children’s behavior. Aside from outright scolding, I have noticed a particular stress on accountability, whereby a child must first admit their mistake and then correct it on their own. Spilled milk episodes are most representative of this tendency. Additionally, passive-aggression on the side of the teacher seems to indicate when a child has deviated from a long-expected behavior, such as playing around after eating snack instead of preparing to go home. This method tends to lead the children to realize their own mistake, as reflected in their guilty expressions afterward.

Until volunteering at Zenryuji, I did not realize how important a role a teacher at a daycare plays in shaping the growth of a child. By instructing them, being friendly with them, and also disciplining them, they teach children not only what is expected of them at the daycare, but also in society as they prepare to go further out into the world. Since I have always observed Japanese people to be sticklers on accountability, it made me wonder if the emphasis on recognizing and fixing one’s own mistakes at Zenryuji may be culturally influenced. In any case, it was a very enlightening to get a glimpse of one of the foundations of Japanese society, even if only for a short time.

Catherine Aker: Teaching English

The very first time I found myself at Kyoto Bunkyo, a combined middle school and high school in Higashiyama, something earth shatteringly shocking happened: I was cool amongst middle schoolers.

They laughed at my jokes. They got excited when I showed up. They all enjoyed talking to me. It was all my middle school fantasies of popularity realized a mere seven years too late.

Of course, as I was soon to figure out, this was not because some latent coolness gene had activated inside me sometime after high school. Rather, it was because no one could understand a word I was saying.

One would assume that this lack of communication should have been obvious after a couple of extremely one-sided conversations. And the truth is, it probably was. Just not to me.

And here, after a few weeks of painstaking observation, are the reasons why:

  1. The English the students know, the students really know. It kind of works like a script. The students know certain phrases and sentences. They have them memorized like they’re preparing for a play. The most infamous is what I like to call the “How Are You” Script.


It goes like this:


“How are you?”

“I am fine, thank you. And you?”

“I am fine.”


As long as you stick to the script, the students can have a pretty passable, if a little bit flat, conversation. Unfortunately, they know the script so well, that your input is barely necessary. It doesn’t really matter what answer you give, the script will continue on regardless.


On one occasion, a student gave the entire script in one breath without my input at all. (“How-are-you-I-am-fine-thank-you-and-you. Good-bye.”)


Nonetheless, the fact remains that when these students are on script, they are in their comfort zone and, although their intonation is a little off, they speak smoothly and confidently. Since most conversations start out with scripts, and frequently contain more in the middle, it’s easy to believe that these students are understanding more than they are.

2.They laugh a lot. Which, as most English speakers are prone to, I usually took as a cue that they were enjoying my insightful and witty comments.


As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. The students frequently used laughter to cover up for times they didn’t understand. I think it was a combination of nerves, a desire to seem more fluent, and behaviors learned from their teachers.


That’s not to say that they never laughed because something was genuinely funny. They did. But it is not the special, “I don’t understand laugh”. The “I don’t understand laugh” is hesitant. All the students take a split second to make eye contact with each other and check if anyone understands. Then, when they do laugh, it comes out in a quick burst and stops just as fast.


But, it’s close enough to regular laughter to convince someone like me that the conversation was on track, and they enjoyed my jokes. Even the one about the platypus. (They actually did know the word for platypus, by the way. They had all studied in Australia.)


Anyway, between the scripts and the laughter, it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that anything was amiss. When I finally did notice, there was much mortification on my part for a few days. Afterwards, I had to slow down my speech immensely, and our conversations degenerated into fairly bland repeats of the same discussions, but at least everyone was on the same page.

So, I guess the end result of this story is that communication mishaps are easy. Correcting them is a little bit harder. But at the end of the day, I like the think that learning to bridge a few differences and learning to detect a couple of new ticks is worth it in the end. If nothing else, I’ve won a few cool points, which is a victory in and of itself.