I started learning Japanese in Shanghai many many years ago, at that time, all my teachers were native speakers, 小仓 sensei, 山田 sensei, 谷村 sensei, 佐藤 sensei… Now looking back, i did have frequent interactions with them, but those were not sufficient to make myself to really understand them, understand Japanese people, probably because of the context. Most Chinese think they understand Japanese well, it’s actually not true. The values between the two societies, especially in the modern times are rather far apart, in my opinion.
So in this post, the following paragraphs will give a sketch of the Japanese friends I have made in NYC.
They May Forget What You Said, They May Forget What You Did, But They Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel …
The very first few Japanese friends I have made were the language exchange partners I had got to know through a website with the intent to improve both language capabilities. We talked our background, our life experiences, our families, the places we have lived and grown up at, our views on various topics, and quickly I became really close with some of them. I have to say, the kind of connection I have with many of them are truly dear to my heart.
There is ex-news editor who studies political science at Columbia, who writes me incredibly long emails and corrects my grammar sentence by sentence, word by word.
There is the girl coming from a quite well-established family (dad is a biology professor, mom is a cooking school teacher) who is extremely compassionate, and travel to different developing places such as Philippines, Africa, Vietnam, with a dream to work in UN and help out all those people living in poor conditions in the world.
And there is people although now being very successful in Finance, but telling me that his dream is to work in agriculture – have a farm and grow corns and wheats.
Recently I have also often thought about the kind of choices people eventually made. Fumio-san, for instance, who originally had a stable job in the same bank as me. She was the first person who came over to me and talk to me, and invited me for lunch together with a group. I could never forget how kind she was to people, how peaceful and at ease every time I saw her and talked to her, as well as the image of her reading a book quietly if she happened to have lunch by herself.
Fumio-san was not the only one Japanese friend I really really adore at work. In fact, my coworker friends have given me so much love and support generously. They inspired me to cook and bring healthy bento lunches to work. The interesting and occasionally girly topics they talked about always made me so happy. We would eat one cup of ice-cream together after a meal (cuz we are girls – we need dessert but we don’t want to get fat. =P) Sometimes, if one of the girls bake something at home, we would share the yummy treats together in the lunch room. Under their influence of being good cooks and basically life-savyy as a professional housewife, I was eventually able to cook a table full of delicious and nice-looking Chinese home cuisines for 10 people.
Follow your heart
最近我常常想起Fumio-san做出的选择- 离开银行、遵从自己的心灵去教书；想起工作那么努力那么出色的Y 说过的话，如果不在金融行业工作其实他真正想做的是在田地里耕种农作物；想起Chie 酱-善良温柔而且坚强的Chie 酱，大学开始就到贫穷的地方（非洲菲律宾）等等国家去做志愿者，今后目标在联合国工作帮助那些贫穷落后需要帮助的人们；还有学习fashion今后想要开一个life style coffee shop的Takuya； 钟情于音乐作曲，有自己的乐队在bar开live concert 的chiyoung. （除了音乐主业，她兼顾许多part time 如给日本服装品牌到美国做推广，她去帮助做展台，还有在日本医院诊所帮忙、但这些打工都是为了自己的梦想– 音乐）。
The kindness and friendliness of these people, the warmth they brought me, allow me to see ever so clearly how people work extremely hard for their dreams and beliefs based on their own choices.
Yes, because of these people, I was able to sense the things I have never been able before, as my heart is free from the materialistic thoughts and social biases.
A few days ago, we had a corporate cross-culture training, mostly focusing on the Japanese and American ways of doing things and thinking, the instructor really triggered my inquisitive mind and the heart constantly screams “Wendy, is this it?? is this where your ambition stops?? is this what you really want out of your life??”
Perhaps time to think again about my own passion, my own path…