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Epic Encounters

August 26, 2009

Last week during our Miyazaki City orientation, I was selected as the representative of the new JETs in Miyazaki Prefecture to get up in front of everyone and deliver a speech to the most famous governor in Japan.  Governor Higashikokubaru is an ex-comedian turned politician and is quite a celebrity.  People literally line up inside the Prefectural Hall and wait for him to come out and the end of the day so they can shake his hand and perhaps snap a picture with him as he rushes to his get-away car.  I was given the honor of standing two feet in front of him and delivering the speech I had prepared for this occasion.

I didn`t really feel all that nervous, but when I got up there my legs started twitching uncontrollably.  I still delivered the speech just fine, but it was kind of annoying and distracting having my legs wobbling away like that.  Oh well.

Gulliver and the Governator

Gulliver and the Governator

As you can see in this picture, I sort of felt like a giant next to the governor.  I wrote and delivered the speech in Japanese (I actually had to cut it down quite a bit because there wasn`t enough time for everything I wanted to say) but I also translated the speech into English for all the new JETs in the audience.  I`ve included both of the shortened speeches below.

(日本語) English Below

東国原知事、お集まりの皆さん、本日はわたくしにご挨拶させていただく機会を設けていただきましてまことにありがとうございます。私はアメリカのオレゴン州から参りました、クイルと申します。語学指導等を行う外国青年招致事業の下で宮崎に参りました。新規JET参加者として都城市で働くことになりましたことを大変光栄に思います。

私は、こんなきれいな所に配属されて、本当に喜んでいます。想像できないほど、どこにいっても緑豊で、こんなパラダイスに住めるとは幸運に恵まれたことだと感謝しています。その上に、サーフィン文化の影響もあるのでしょうか、本当に温かい歓迎をいただきました。誰に会っても、皆、温かい挨拶をして、優しい笑顔を見せてくださって、私たちはこんなフレンドリーな所に参りまして、まことにありがたいです。

最初の宮崎の日々は冒険に次ぐ冒険で時間があっという間に過ぎています。職場での自己紹介とか、アパートの家具揃えなどで毎日忙しく頑張っています。Juscoを見つけること、それは冒険です。近所の初めての散歩、それも冒険です。毎日の慣れた生活から離れ、異文化の中で自分が生活する、異文化を肌で感じることによって、だんだん自分の文化はなんだろうとはっきり見えるようになってきました。日本の文化に触れ合って自分が一番教わっている立場ですが、両文化、その相違点を教えるのが私たちの仕事になります。

仕事が始まったばかりですけれども、自分にとって仕事の一番大切なことに気づいたと思います。外国語を教えることではなく、翻訳でもなく、通訳でもなくて、その大事なことは身近に住んでいる日本人と触れ合うことです。どこの国から来ても、私たちは今、外国人として日本に住んでいます。だから、相互依存の大切さをしみじみと感じます。友好親善を促進するために、私たちは草の根レベルから頑張っていきます。

われわれJET参加者は相互文化交流を行う傍ら、日本の文化を習い、母国の人々とそれをシェアしたいです。

8月8日の土曜日に都城市では盆地祭りがありました。東国原知事の挨拶に励まされ、私たち都城JET参加者は国際交流協会のもとで盆地まつりで踊らせていただきました。頑張っている皆の姿を見て、私たちもやる気満々で頑張りたくなりました。雨に降られて、びしょぬれになっても、笑顔満面で一緒に踊りました。これは日本のお祭り、九州のお祭り、また宮崎のお祭りとも違う、都城の独特なお祭りでした。だから、その雰囲気を感じ、特に都城の味を味わい、一生忘れられない思い出になりました。

外国語指導助手として、そして国際交流員として、私たちは期待に胸を膨らませて宮崎に来ました。色々の国から来ましたけど、どこの国からか、そしてどの職務にいるかにもかかわらず、一緒に新しい日本人の友達と同僚とともに頑張っていく所存であります。最後になりますが、われわれJET参加者は、宮崎の皆さんとともに、「どげんかせんといかん!」

(English)

Thank you Governor Higashi Kokubaru, and thank you everyone, for your kind invitation and for allowing us the chance to be here today.  My name is Quill.  I am from the state of Oregon of the United States of America.  I have come to Miyazaki under the jurisdiction of the JET program. As a new JET, I am honored to be working in Miyakonojo City.

I am very happy to be assigned to such a beautiful location.  To an almost unimaginable degree, no matter where I go it is nothing but green, and I am so thankful for being blessed with the good fortune of living in such a paradise.  On top of that, perhaps in part due to the influence of surfing culture, I have received a tremendously warm welcome.  No matter who I meet, everyone greets me warmly and shows me a kind smile, and I am very grateful to have come to such a friendly place.

My first days in Miyazaki have been one adventure after another and time has passed by quickly.  From my self-introduction at work to arranging my furniture in my apartment, I`ve been working hard every day.  The discovery of Jusco – it`s an adventure.  The first stroll around the neighborhood – it`s an adventure.  Separated from the lifestyle I`m used to, living in and experiencing a foreign culture in the flesh, I`m beginning to understand clearly just exactly what my own culture is.  In touch with Japanese culture, the first thing I learned was how I can explain my culture in terms of how it is different.  Our work is explaining those cultural differences.

I`ve just started working here, but I think I`ve realized the most important part of my work.  It`s not teaching a foreign language, it`s not translation, it`s not interpretation, but instead it`s about coming into contact with the Japanese people who live around me.  No matter what country we`ve come from, we`re living here as foreigners.  Because of this, we are clearly able to feel the importance of interdependence.  In order to encourage friendship, we`re trying hard from the grass level on up. Along with the mutual cultural exchange we will be performing here in Japan, we, the new JET participants, hope to learn Japanese culture and bring it back to share with the peoples of our home countries. 

On the 8th of August, the annual Basin Festival occurred in Miyakonojo City.  Inspired by the greeting of Governor Higashi Kokubaru, the JETs from the Miyakonojo area, under the direction of the International Exchange Association, were allowed the honor of dancing in the festival.  Seeing the figures of everyone working so hard, we were filled with spirit and tried our best.  Even though rain fell on us and we all became soaking wet, we danced together with wide smiles.  This was not just a Japanese festival, nor a Kyushu festival, or even a Miyazaki festival – this was the unique festival of Miyakonojo.  Feeling that special atmosphere and tasting the unique taste of Miyakonojo, the experience has become a memory we will not forget.

As Assistant Language Teachers, and as Coordinators of International Relations, we came to Miyazaki full of expectations.  We`ve come from various countries, but no matter which country and regardless of what job we are here to perform, it is our intent to work hard with our new Japanese friends and coworkers.  To sum it all up, I`ll use a phrase made famous by Governor Higashi Kokubaru, and say that we, the new JETs, and the people of Miyazaki, must work hard and persevere.

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One comment

  1. nice one,

    im a jet in kagawa and i have to give a speech in front of the gov of takamatsu next week.



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