Today I met with a student, a young man, who has just arrived back from a company trip to Guam. He and I had spent several weeks preparing for this trip, going over and over the same English drills. It was his first overseas trip, and he was very nervous.
All went well, it seems! He was so excited by his experience there that he could barely restrain himself, and when I heard his story, I was too.
You see, this shy young man, who only a few months ago was so scared of gaijins that he could barely look them in the eye, was able to communicate adequately, if not fluently, in English, thus garnering the respect of not only his co-workers, but his boss too. For example, he was able to navigate the bus system, hotel check-ins, and ordering at restaurants. On one occasion, he simply picked up the phone and made reservations at a steakhouse for the whole group, and even arranged pick-up service (thank goodness the service providers were kind and patient, and didn’t deviate from the “script”).
I cannot describe how happy I was to hear this news. And to see his happy, glowing face, telling me that he couldn’t wait to go overseas again!
I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but many Japanese people face the same predicament when they travel overseas: how to communicate with the locals, and get things done. In fact, they really agonise over this.
Imagine if you’d been able to master basic Japanese or Chinese in only a few months of weekly lessons, then you’ll understand how he and I both felt!
Well done, Keisuke! I’m so proud of you. (And thank you for the chocolates!)