Friday, August 19, 2005

My quest to be able to master chopsticks....

Immersing Oneself Into Another Culture...

I keep trying to think of ways to prepare for my trip, and I think the most important is to learn more about the culture, its customs and language. I have learned after living in Costa Rica, that one really needs to make an effort to understand the country. When I was in Costa Rica, I did not know the language at all (yes, five years of French did not come in handy!). Even though I was teaching at an American International School that spoke English, I still felt like I was being rude to the Ticos (people who live in Costa Rica- like we are called Americans!). When I first arrived I was unable to communicate with anyone who didn’t speak English. I only knew a few words and often felt like I was being inconsiderate. I did learn more Spanish while I was there (and could eventually do things such as take a cab by myself, order food, make small talk with my students and get from my city to a beach about three hours away- not big feats, but I felt like I got to know the country more this way.).

I am finding myself in the same boat with my trip to Japan. Here I am heading over to a country and not knowing too much about their language and background. I have made it my mission to try to prepare a bit more for the trip. I am happy that I know where I will be staying, because I can now start reading about the cities and the surrounding areas. I have tried to read books by Japanese authors and have poured over travel books. I think I can still learn a bit about their history, the government and more issues that are pertinent in the country. It’s often times overwhelming to learn so much about a place in a short period of time, but I have been trying.

I think one of my largest hardships (besides learning the language!) is learning how to use chopsticks! I just can’t do it! I have been practicing with almost everything I eat, and I seem to get more food on my clothes then in my mouth! I defiantly want to be good at this when I go to Japan. I remember when I worked in Boston Public and the kindergarteners (yes, kindergartners- if they can do it, so can I!) were learning how to use chopsticks. The teacher had given them M&Ms to practice with. I actually got the mini ones (which makes it harder!), and I am inspired to pick them up because no one can resist chocolate! I promise, I will be able to use chopsticks like a pro when I get to Japan!

I think it is important that I learn a lot about this country, since I am a guest there. I want to represent myself in a considerate and friendly way, and I believe that when I know more about a culture I can do that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good luck with the chopsticks

the best student ever

5:18 PM  
Blogger Miss Alpine said...

Thanks for the faith, Kathleen. I'm getting pretty good! :)

Miss Alpine

9:19 PM  

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