the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Monday, April 03, 2006

The little yellow book


Over three years ago I was in a friend's dorm room. She had been on a YWAM trip to Japan. She had a little yellow book about learning Japanese. I told her I would come back to borrow it when I had some spare time.

That spare time ended up being right before Christmas break nearly a year later. When I started reading the book, it quickly became evident that I could not simply read and learn how to pronounce Japanese. So I went to my Japanese neighbor NM-kun.

"If I study this, and do all the work. Can I get together with you maybe once a week and you can tell me if I am pronouncing it right?"

"No. I am a Religion Major. I am always busy studying. But do you know KS-chan? She is a new Japanese student, and she just started a student lead Japanese class."

It was the beginning of the second half of my junior year, and I had a new schedule. After an email to an exchange student I had never met, I started going to the class on Sat afternoons in the library. There were three American students, one Korean, and one Chinese student. One of the other American students was JV. He had already learned a little Japanese from his Japanese roommates, and Japanese girlfriend AY-chan. I did not know it at the time, but soon both he, AY and KS would become some of my best friends.

I had 45 minutes between my two afternoon classes on MWF, and that was a worthless amount of time. So I stayed in the academic building and studied my Japanese. Soon I was going faster than the class, and I started teaching myself from the Internet. To this day I wonder what motivated me to study so hard.

I went to Seattle for spring break that year. It was my first flight, ever. Not a week after spring break, I saw KS in the hallway.

"Have you seen AY lately?"

"No."

"Oh. She has something she wants to ask you."

"Okay."

Later that week I was at the coffee shop studying my Japanese. AY and JV came in.

"Hi. Can we interrupt you?"

"Yeah."

"Do you want to come to Japan this summer with JV? You can stay with KS and me. We can cook. It will be cheap, and fun."

My mind was blown.

"Whoa!"

"What?"

"I just got done with my first plane ride. Whoa!"

"Yeah?"

"Whoa! That is really far away."

"So will you come?"

"Whoa!"

"Stop saying 'whoa'!!"

"I don't know if I have the money. Whoa!"

"Stop it!"

How could I pass an opportunity like this up?

"Yeah, I'll do it. Whoa!"

"Stop!!"

At that time I hardly knew AY, JV, and KS. But after two weeks of trains, sushi, soba and a 14 hour flight, that all changed. These are the events that started me down this fateful path.

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