Long before I stepped down on japanese soil, I thought about the reasons for me to live and work in a country I felt such strong ties with . I deeply contemplated the question: Why do I want to go and live in Japan? How was I suppose to compile all my emotions, dreams, desires, aspirations, and hopes. It was a challenge to say the least. After asking myself the question over and over again for days, I was able to put my personal why into words.
Why I chose to go to Japan was a two-tired decision. The obvious reason for most, is to promote internationalization which encompasses teaching and sharing cultural insights. The foundation for my decision is a personal interest and desire to further discover and gain insight into my self identity.
Being a third generation Japanese Canadian I have a strong desire to explore the Japanese culture and language. I have always had an interest in Japanese culture, not because it was strictly forced upon me, but because I had personal interest to discover it. From asking to be put into Japanese dancing lessons when I was young to taking courses that revolved around Japan at University, I feel I have always had a desire learn more about this country. Some may say it is inevitable I would feel this way due to my genetic make-up, but I feel it definitely depends on the individual. Having a strong desire to experience the culture firsthand for personal reasons, coupled with my desire for the promotion of internationalization, deciding to go to Japan was not an issue. The most difficult part was deciding how to express in words, all the thoughts and emotions I was feeling towards this opportunity.
Living in Japan I encountered many interesting and unique experiences. Many of which were related to the fact I am Japanese Canadian. Walking down the narrow streets of Wakayama I blended in with the natives. It was only once I opened my mouth and spoke that I became a distinguished member of society. Whether it was Japanese or English that cames out of my mouth, my spoken words caused stares of confusion. To hear someone who looks Japanese speak fluent English was shocking to the many Japanese people who heard me speak. From the train stations, to walking down the street, people's reactions were the same, they were full of confusion and curiousity. At first, the confused reactiones I received created my own confusion. I often wondered why it was so shocking to hear someone who looks like me, speak fluent English? Coming for a multicultural country, it is not unusual to hear mnay languages come out of the muths of many differenet types of people. Not a day went by where I didn not get a glance or a stare of disbelief. I began to think it was interesting and more imporatatnly saw it as an opportunity for me to promote the whole concept of internationialization, one of the reasons why I went to Japan in the first place.
The looks I have recieved and the explanations I have had to give, have all helped me gain a better undertanding of my self identity. Living and working in Japan has allowed me to gain a better understanding of what it means to me so say, "I am a third generation Japanese Canadian." I have also gained a better understanding of what it means to say, "I am from Canada and I am a Canadian."
I am extremely thankful I had the opportunity to live and work in Japan. I feel the reasons that inspired me to go to Japan will act as the foundation upon which I will build upon once I return to Asia this summer.