the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

excerpts from a mail to my aunt

Actually, you picked a great time to write.  It's actually Saturday here.  We have an orientation for new students this morning, so I'm quasai-working this morning.

About China and Japan.  I think the major differences are:
    1) size, both in area and population.  Japan is an island, China is a continent.
    2) Japan modernized/industrialized first so the changes haven't been as rapid in Japan (but still faster than in the USA)
    3) China was a British colony
    4) Japan tried to colonize Asia during World War II. 

I think all major differences stem off from there.  Do you know much about Asian culture and history?  I have to admit when I first came here I didn't know much.

About being a missionary teacher.  That is still something I am struggling to define.  All members involved seem hesitant to define my position. 

The basic guidelines I have been given:
from my school:     1) you will teach 14-18 English conversation classes a week
                          2) you will speak in chapel once a month

from the UCCJ:   be an "active" member of a church. 

(After I had been here two years I received a "pre-arrival packet" that had a bilingual introduction and a bilingual "ways I am willing to help at church" check list that I could have used at church)

from the RCA:   be a "Christian presence".

Almost everything else is up to my discretion.  Which is kind of nice in some ways (I have friends at other schools who are slightly more restricted by all their requirements), but frustrating in others. 

Let's start with the school.  The irony is that we are a Christian school whose current administration is not at all Christian.  In fact even among the teachers there are only a few Christians (about 4 believers, and 8 church goers out of 60 teachers). 

As for lessons on the Bible and Christianity, we have both a junior high and a senior high chaplain who teach those lessons.  I teach only English conversation lessons, however, the junior high chaplain and I are trying to plan an "after school bible study club" for next year - any students would be welcome to join.

Oh, and my salary is paid 100% by my school.  So I'm very low over head for both the RCA and the UCCJ. 

Interesting bit of history: from the 1800's until about 1970, the school itself was half funded by the Methodist Church and the UCCJ.  Remember that up until that point Japan had been considered a small poor country in the West.  Many of the main line denominations were here on "social justice" missions.  However, in the 1970's Japan appeared to have become an economic power and many of the mainline denominations began to withdraw their funds and staff.  Which brings us to today where they get no funds.

About grad school.  I have filled out my FAFSA, but my grad school apps are pending.  I have my top five schools list, and applications for them in hand.  However, this week is final tests, and then junior high english camp, and then my spring break begins.  I hope to get my grad school apps done then.  But first I have grading to finish here.

I'd like to go to grad school in California because there seems to be plenty of English work then, and there are many opportunities to work with Asians there.  Both the Japanese and Korean churches are strong on the West Coast.  In order I'm looking at
    1) BIOLA in LA,
    2) Azusa Pacific in LA,
    3) Multonamah in Portland
    4) Uni of St. Cloud in MN
    5) Uni of IA

And if all of those fail I'm also looking at ESL certificate programs in Chicago and Denver as backup. 

Like I said, I'd love to go to school on the West Coast, but with the economy, I'm worried about whether I can swing it.


Blogger Nick said...

Hey Nick Boyes,

Thanks for keeping us updated on your life in Japan. I am so envious, really, and I think it is exciting that you are looking at grad schools like Multnomah. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Do you know what you'll be studying?

I finished reading "The Two Empires in Japan" and I thought it was an amazing book. It was so good (and sad) to learn about the history between the church and the state in Japan--topics which I knew little about. It also was so good to read a book about Japan from a knowledgeable conservative viewpoint, because that seems particularly lacking. The book really illustrated the extreme dangers of syncretism, and it should help me a lot as I work on my paper. I ordered a few more books for more research--The Bells of Nagasaki, Shiokari Pass, and The Wind is Howling. The Bells of Nagasaki is written by a Japanese Christian who was poisoned by the nuclear fallout in Nagasaki. Shiokari Pass and The Wind is Howling were both written by Ayako Miura, who I saw described as the Japanese C. S. Lewis. Both are true stories, one about a Japanese Christian who gave his life to stop a train from derailing, the other an autobiographical work. I don't know how useful they will be, but I am stoked to read them.

Wish I could sit down and chat with you sometime. Take care. I will continue praying for you. Of course :)

God bless,


3/17/2009 11:16 PM  

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