20 1月 2015

I'm a flower killer

     This is a response to something that happened today.
     Something shocking.
     And something even I can't believe.

     Not just one thing but two.

     I had a lesson for 3-1 (third graders) in Sakahogi. The target language was "What do you like? I like (insert name of fruits here)". The previous lesson was about "Do you like (insert animal name here)? Yes, I do./ No, I don't". I wanted to review this a little bit in the beginning because the last time they had an English lesson, was more than a month. And it was a cool way to introduce the new target language.
     Of course, from now on I've decided to check if they know the meaning of these phrases (most likely not), because while MEXT wants kids to have fun in English, I believe learning a language seriously IS fun. MEXT is just in denial because they're a bunch of grumpy old men who don't read or keep up to date with research.
     So, we check the meaning and then we go into this little chant I made. Pretty predictable so students don't have a hard time with it, and then a game to practice what I just showed them. It's basically telephone, but instead of a big circle, you do it with rows as teams, and the last students say the message one by one. If they are right, they get one point.

     The problem that I'm talking about happened before the game and before the chant when I asked the students "what meaning". This one girl said "what" means なに. (This is 'what' / nani in Japanese.) And this other student who was never paying attention and being totally rude, said:

This means: Of course/As I thought, the foreigner knows.
     But the word foreigner in this instance was used in a very rude way. And second, she's Japanese.
Even I had confused that when I first saw her because of her appearance. She seemed kinda filipina to me, but culturally she's Japanese. That's what I thought. But later I learned through the other teachers that there were no foreign children in grade 3, so I thought "ok. she probably is just the prettier version of Japanese girls. And never needs to worry about getting red under the sun".
     I mean, c'mon. I wish my skin was just a little darker so I would always have this light tan, and don't turn into a pinto bean in the winter. Seriously, they need tanning beds.

     What surprised me first was just that. These are third graders, and their teachers don't relay messages like "everyone is different, and that's ok. We need to be nice to people no matter where they are from. We are all beautiful", etc, etc.

     The homeroom teacher didn't say anything about it either; he was just trying to control all the noisy kids and I don't blame him. They were being completely disrespectful to me and him. If they talk all they time, then they're just wasting time for themselves and their classmates.

     But if IIIIII were him, I would have just stopped it right then and there, made fun of him by saying "やっぱりおまえは知らない" (As I thought you don't know (the answer)), lectured him, and made him apologize to her for being racist and an idiot. But that didn't happen.

     Throughout the whole class, it was very chatty (in a bad way), and they wasted a lot of time. We didn't even get to finish the practice game, and we didn't get to do the second activity.
     I was really disappointed not only for them not respecting me, but because I had witnessed something fly by without scolding.

     So I asked the secretary of the school, if kids learn about multiculturalism or at least the idea that we have to be nice to everyone, regardless where they are from or what they look like. She misunderstood me and talked about how students don't learn any other history other than Japanese history. So I just went straight back to my question, but in a different way. She diverted again, and I returned to the question again. Lastly she said how in Japan there is just 1 culture, so students don't
have the chance to meet people from other cultures. And how basically English class is a window to that opportunity and learn how to communicate. But this is where she is wrong, and again I went back to my intended meaning and said something about how when travelers come to Japan and learn that people here are racist and not nice, they won't like Japan. This in turn hurts the Japanese economy, because no one will want to come and spend their money nor decide to live here and contribute.

     Why should they if they're only going to be treated as second-class and third-class citizens? And then I just said some bullshit like "well, maybe people here will grow up to be nice". Left it at that.

     But here's another issue. She tried to avoid being honest with me and tried to give an answer but I closed the conversation, simply because I was tired of her bullshit and I needed to stay in good terms with this person until March 25th.
     Next, she's like a starting gramma age so I'm not surprised she said this, but I wouldn't be surprised if young people said this also. That Japan is composed of just one culture and one 'race'. Even though race is not a scientific, measurable concept.

     Japan is in fact composed of many cultures, but one culture tends to be the majority just like any other country. You therefore have your minorities, such as the Kyushu people and Ainu whom have mostly been integrated mainly by force into the "Japanese way of life". Then you have your Chinese and Koreans who came here during the war era as construction and factory workers, and other jobs Japanese people didn't want to do. Most have been melted into the mainstream pot in most ways, but what keeps them separated is the fact that Japan recognizes national citizenship from whom your parents are by blood. (Another non-scientific aspect of a country that is supposedly technologically advanced.)

     So for example, if both my parents or one of my parents is a Japanese national "by blood", then so am I. If both my parents are not Japanese by blood, let's say they're from Denmark or some other cool country, then it doesn't matter if I'm born in Japan. My parents are both from Denmark, therefore I cannot have Japanese citizenship. Now, if I MARRY a Japanese person, then I can have a spouse visa and after some time switch my citizenship. But I will still never be recognized as part of the country. Cuz Japanese are anti-strangers in many levels. So you still have plenty of Chinese and Koreans whom are considered Chinese/Korean, and hold these citizenships, regardless of whether they have ever seen/visited China/Korea and regardless whether they know or don't know any other language other than Japanese and any other cultural way of life other than a Japanese one.

     Next you have your nikkeijin and these are basically Japanese farmers who were bombarded with propaganda to go to the Americas like Mexico, Peru, and Brazil (to name some of the biggest ones) because the life there was more promising. And hey, why don't you bring your family with you?
     But after some time they came back to Japan, having the same hope most people have (to make money and have a better situation), but they were met with dissent because these "Japanese" were not seen as "Japanese" anymore. Their culture is different. It's not "Japanese" anymore. 

     Well, what do you expect after living in another country for more that 3 generations and never knowing about your other origins? C'mon people, it's not science, it's common sense.

     They may or may not have Japanese names, and their appearances vary drastically, but they are still treated as "foreigners" and "outsiders" simply because they are not fully Japanese. Something changed and Japanese compute that as something not Japanese. Very childish right?

     Even their children who are BORN AND RAISED in fuckin' Japan are still considered not Japanese, and are treated as foreigners in their school system.

      Who fuckin' cares how much of you is Japanese or not?

     I mean, have you ever seen or met a Japanese person who doesn't like curry?

     I'm just saying, curry isn't a Japanese dish. And neither is tea, buddhism, zen art, building styles, to name a few. C'mon. Fuckin' Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas!.

     You can't tell me that THAT comes from Japan.

     Finally you have your other foreigners who come from other Asian countries for various reasons, like Filipinos, and Vietnamese. And your other foreigners who come from western countries who are basically lumped into 1 big group because apparently we all look the same. 

     Then you have your mixed individuals. Which is another story that boils my temperature too much to talk about it without getting mad simply because it's just stupidity gas being snorted all around this country. 
     If you mix coconuts, pineapples, and bananas in a drink, are you REEEALLY gonna call it a "Coconut Pineapple Banana Drink"?? No.

     You're gonna call it a Piña Colada. You're not gonna say ooooh, these coconuts, pineapples and bananas taste really good. No. You're gonna say waaao this Piña Colada is fuckin' awesome.

     If you mix strawberry milk and chocolate milk. 50% of each. Can your tongue really identify the exact percentage of molecules that are strawberry and chocolate?
     If you saw a cup with 50% water in it, are you gonna see it as half-empty or half-full? That's the problem. You're thinking of it as half from the start, when really the other half is just invisible because you don't want to see it. You already drank it.
     That person is not half-full nor half-empty. It's just a person.

     So you have all these minorities (both in number and power), whose voices are not heard because
Japanese people don't really talk about things. They hold firmly to the strategy of "if you don't talk about it, believe it can't be helped, it'll go away". And if you protest too much, they're gonna take it personal and make it seem like you're insulting them and how you should just leave, when really 'you' are also part of 'them'. They just don't WANT to see it that way.

     Basically, think back to UK and those adorable episodes of 'The Paradise', 'Downtown Abbey', or any other shows like that (which are awesome btw. I would have never believed that today I would be watching shows about brits). But think about that world and how people are not really that emotionally expressive as their American counterparts. Especially to Latin Americans. We're pretty expressive and not shy to shove it up your face. You will get a piece of this awesomeness, that it will make you blind.
     But back to my point.
     Think of that not so emotional character, who follows a lot of etiquette rules and the 'proper' way to do things in daily life. Even how to behave is followed strictly to a certain way, and if you do something outside of that 'way' you'll be too embarrassed to do so. Think of this same character who is watched by everyone, because we know that everyone wants to know everyone elses business. Thus making us even less likely to step out of those boundaries, and more conscious about our weaknesses. Forget about your strengths. There's etiquette to follow right?

     Remember how that was in UK, and in US a long time ago?

     Well, it's not such a long time ago for Japan because that's what it's like today. Even young people and kids often say "i'm too embarrassed to do/say that. It was only about 15 something years ago when women were housewives and get jobs nor attend a university or higher education. 
     Well, many of those women now have to work, so they have lower level jobs because of that lack of education and experience. A university graduate from US would be making twice or 3 times more
than what a used-to-be-housewife makes now. I truly feel sorry for them because they don't know what it's like outside their little cultural box.

     Sure there are some people who are starting to resemble their eastern and western counterparts, but that change is sloooooooow. Imagine that jump in the US from the super puritan-like white families to the hippies. Yea. Japan hasn't gone to the hippie era yet where everyone just says "fuck the system, i just wanna give you a flower man".

     So why don't we do that?
     There's some super inexpensive flowers at dollar stores here. Spread them around and say, fuck the system. I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm not gonna step in your way of destructing this world, because I'll make my own world. You're welcomed anytime. Let's just enjoy our time.

     'Cuz I'm too lazy to take care of real flowers.

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