Asia | Japan | Kyushu | Kumamoto – Starving to Speak
Tonight for dinner, Sensei Shultz and four of his fellow JET teachers and I ate together. JET stands for Japanese Exchange Teaching programme. These are youth from America, England, Canada, Australia, whatever English speaking country, who chooses to come to Japan for one to three years to teach English to the youth of Japan. Usually there is only one JET in a school, so only one native English speaker in the school.
In the beginning, the conversation was what you would expect from any group of people who know each other and want to get together and talk. But at a few points, it would reach a level where I would think, ‘Is it really this exciting to talk about (fill in the blank here with things like candy, light bulbs, phone bills, ect.) to this depth and for this length of time?’
Then later on it hit me. These weekly ‘chats’ were the only chance some of these JETs got to hold a conversation in English were they could just talk. No needing to think of the Japanese word for something, no need to re-define a word, and no need to explain what they were talking about, minus a few ‘cultural’ references like explaining who Arnold from Green Acres is to a Brit. These people were filling a sensory/emotional void in their lives by having these conversations. In a way, it was ‘re-charging’ their English, and their souls, to last another week in this land, that they have chosen to live in, for now.