Friday, January 19, 2007
I admit my faults. Leave no stone unturned. I'm not recanting any of my previous entries or articles regarding Japanese behavior, but I will admit they are rather premature. They were the rantings of a foreigner in many ways new to Japan, and his struggle to make sense of the Japanese world. In that sense, they are very helpful, and perfectly reasonable; anyone new to the working conditions in the land of the rising sun would probably experiences the same thoughts.
I do not pretend to be the ultimate authority on Japanese culture or working conditions. If I were, it's a safe bet my blog would get more than thirty visits a day. Nevertheless, I'm never wrong, because I've never claimed to be right; these are my opinions, nothing more. Take them as you will.
Henceforth, I will put up more of an effort to be decidedly un-"gaijin", more Japanese-friendly, and not sweat the small stuff.
Leave it to That 70's Show to come up with the analogy I've been searching for since I arrived in Japan. They may not be the most eloquent characters, but this time, their dialogue rang very true.
The eikaiwa environment is condescending to me mainly because of the dialogue. All across the country, Japanese managers are instructing foreign workers: "Let's go! Let's do it! Let's go to the classroom! Let's talk to students!"
So who are we, as native-English speakers? We're the ones subject to orders from Japanese workers in the form of cheers. Yes, that's right - I find most upbeat, genki speaking is condesending because it reminds me all too well of something cheerleaders might say to doting fans. They might feel as though they are treating us as respectable office workers, but I find myself to be more in tune with someone on the receiving end of: "Where's your school spirit?"
Dinesh D'Souza gave an interesting interview on The Colbert Report about the international perspective of America.
"We in America know there's a big difference between some of the excesses in our popular culture and the way Americans actually live. But abroad, they don't know that. The only America they see is the face of TV, and the music industry, and the movies... so they're getting a distorted picture of America..."
This reminded me a lot of a recent story on Common Ties called Americans and Unicorns.
I have many qualms with the American government; but through it all, I knew beneath all the superficial bickering there was a system in place with a certain degree of dignity and respect. Thank you Rep. David Wu, for proving me wrong.