Today I received a warm and cordial email from the speech contest organisers, inviting me to adjucate at the annual event in autumn this year and telling me that they were looking forward to seeing me again. However, they had some disturbing news: it seems that because the BOE is now so cash-strapped, we judges can only be offered half the usual amount of renumeration. They were terribly sorry, but instead of the usual $200, we would only be getting $100. Despite this meagre pay, would I still be willing to participate, they asked? I replied immediately in the affirmative … partly because I like the work and would do it for free, but mainly because I think this is the last year they’ll be holding this particular contest. There won’t be enough money for it next year, and that’s a shame.
I’ve since learned that several of the other gaijin judges were openly shocked at this insulting job offer, and point-blank refused to work for such low pay (yes, it must be terribly hard to give up a whole Sunday morning for $100, not to mention the chance to influence dozens of budding leaders and bridge-builders).
Actually I wasn’t too surprised. I knew something was amiss last year when we weren’t fed at all and were only offered green tea from a communal pot during break time. Normally they give us a box of sandwiches for lunch and a choice of English tea or coffee, and they pass around a box of Belgian chocolates for afters. This year I’m taking my own chocolates and I’m not sharing them with any of the other judges!
Well, maybe just the cute ones.