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









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.


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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