the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My story about Empire

This blog is just my story about my life in Japan. This is just my story, it`s just what happened. It isn`t left or right, democrate or republican, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. It just is.

Every day I go to work. I go to work at a Christian school which means the school was founded by missionaries who came there with the rise of imperial nations. Our school has been teaching English since 1832 because that is the language the missionaries taught in. This was long before the Occupation. Long before English skills became a neccesity for business skills and securing a "good job".

We open each teachers` meeting with a verse from 1 Samuel, a succesive verse each day. Premusably after enough time passes we will open with a verse from 2 Samuel. The English department is the largest department in the school - nine teachers, ten including me. Once a month I make a chapel speech. Students are required to attend chapel regularly although few believe in Christianity.

So here I will stand and talk. I am in a country where I can hardly speak the language, but somehow nearly everyone speaks some semblence of English. My speech will be translated into Japanese, but a little less than half of the students can get the just of it without the translation.

I speak. I am the son of Germans, Irishmen, Englishmen, and Scandinavians (among others). I am an American. And I came from a Dutch college. Name the three peoples who colonized Africa. All I need is Spanish and Portugesse heritage and I`ll have the complete set. It`S true, if we hadn`t colonized the world, someone else would have. But it was us. There`s nothing I can do to change my heritage, and I`m proud of who my family and culture have taught me to be. But you have to notice the trend here.

Now our empire is business McDonalds and Coke are most notable. But there is also Kentucky Fried Chicken, Seven Eleven, Microsoft, Macintosh, and Pepsi. Just yesterday I saw a man on a TV commercial singing, "Oh the sun shines bright in my old Kentucky Fried Chicken home." in English. And no one in Japan knows the song this melody was paroding!

These multinational companies push products that no one uses. Products that did not exist previously in these cultures. Namely pop and fast food, but also disposble lifestyles and instant gratification. I heard once that every country wants to modernize, but no country wants to westernize.

So I`m here teaching English. I speak English five days a week, and outside of school my command of the Japanese language bites. But as dysfunctional as I am, everyone respects me. In fact by some odd twist of fate I`ve been given one of the highest titles - sensei. Because I am in fact a teacher.

More happy thoughts later. :)

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