Farewell speeches

Thanks to Oku-sensei, a Japanese literature teacher, who proofread and corrected my speeches to students and teachers.

To the students:

Thank you for these past 3 years.

I was able to make so many memories. I came out for the ball sports festival, suffered with you through Gakuho Walk, dressed up with teachers during the culture festival as Detective Conan, played games and had chats with you during English Cafe, and even took a test together with the kyudo club. I came here from America to be an assistant language teacher, but my most enjoyable thing was seeing your individual personalities. Of course, life in another country has been tough, but seeing your smiles and greetings every day took all my cares away.

People are onions. Onions with many layers. Every layer is a hidden part of you. For example, a baseball player who’s really good at cooking. Or someone who enjoys flower arranging could also be very good at playing the guitar. As for foreign languages, you might hate English, but be very good at Korean. Discover your many hidden layers, embrace and cultivate them.

Onions make people cry when they are cut, and whether or not you like them, onions are often used in delicious dishes. As onions, let’s make amazing lives with the people around us.

Lastly, be safe, and enjoy many new experiences.

この三年間お世話になりました。

本当にいっぱい思い出が出来ました。球技大会に出たり、学鳳ウォークで一緒に苦しんだり、文化祭で先生達と「めいたんていコナン」の仮装で参加したり、English Café で会話やゲームをしたり、弓道部と一緒に審査を受けられて良かったです。英語指導助手としてアメリカから来ましたが、皆の個性を見るのが一番楽しめました。もちろん別な国で生活に苦労はありましたが、毎日生徒の笑顔、挨拶からすっきり吹き飛びました。

人間は玉ねぎです。皮の下層がいっぱいある玉ねぎです。ひとつひとつの層は自分が隠していることです。たとえば、野球選手なのに、お料理も上手な人だとか。あるいは生け花が上手なのに、ギターも得意な人とか。あとは外国語について、英語が嫌いだけれど、韓国語が上手な人とか。自分の多数の層を認めて、受け入れて活かしてください。

玉ねぎは切ると人を泣かせますが、玉ねぎが好きか嫌いか関係なく、一般的に美味しい物に使われます。玉ねぎとして周りの人とすばらしい人生を作りましょう。

最後に、くれぐれも気をつけて、色々な楽しい体験してください。

To the teachers:

Thank you for these past 3 years.

I think I was very lucky to be sent to Gakuho as an ALT. Diversity is an important issue to me, so I am so glad to be at a school where teachers do their best to accommodate the varied situations in the student body.

I will now be returning to the video game industry. Actually, before I came to Japan, I was very depressed to think that video games is the only job I could do. However, thanks to this experience, I’d like to support international students from overseas, including Japan, in America. I hope to cultivate this calling that I discovered from this experience in Japan.

会津学鳳の先生方、こんにちは。

この三年間お世話になりました。

ALTとして、学鳳に指名されて、本当にラッキーだったと思います。ダイバーシティーと言うことは私にたいしてすごく大切なことと思いますから、様々な状況がある生徒を一生懸命に指導する学校にいられて、本当によかったです。

まず、大竹先生、誠先生、棚木先生、神田先生には、担当として色々ご面倒をおかけ致しました。誠にありがとうございます。

人文ステーションで一緒の先生方、毎日の習慣を先生の背中を見て、いっぱい勉強になりました。次の職場に持って行って活かします。

体育の先生方、一年目結構暇だった時、生徒達に混ぜてもらってありがとうございました。

芸術の先生方、放課後芸術の教室の辺りをうろちょろしてすみませんでした。

英語の先生方、自由に楽しい授業をやらせてもらって、本当にありがとうございました。

国語と社会の先生方、日本語、日本文化を教えてくれてありがとうございました。

理系の先生方、SSHを手伝わせてもらってありがとうございました。

情報の先生、LLルームの設備を自分のマックと繋がりために色々の依頼を叶えてくださってありがとうございました。

これからゲーム業界に戻ります。実はゲーム業界しか出来ないと思って、日本に来る前は落ち込んでいました。でも、この経験のお陰で、アメリカで日本含めた海外からの留学生を応援することもしたいと今は思っています。このライフワークの実現に日本での経験を活かしていきたいです。

ありがとうございました。

Rockwell’s The Problem We All Live With

The students were asked to draw the faces of the four officers escorting Ruby Bridges to school, and why they drew such faces.

In this time when Black Lives Matter so much, I don’t know what to think or who to talk to when I read something like this:

“The four policemen feel sad. they might be thinking ‘Why [do] we need to escort for [this] black girl. We blame her to [for the] shouts and smashed tomatoes.'”

I don’t know how serious the students are in regards to issues of racism, since the subject is largely thought to be an “American” issue. But if this exercise is to empathize with the police officers when really it’s a reflection of how one would act if they were the cop, this idea is really saddening.

To think that you are to blame for the violence around you when you’ve done nothing but exist. Why can’t some people understand that.

不幸中の幸い – Happiness within the misfortune

Taking a moment to check in here. I haven’t written anything in a while, but I have a lot of unfinished drafts that I haven’t been able to finish. All these incomplete thoughts because A LOT has been happening in the last several months leading up to the end of my JET contract.

Things have been really shaking up as the goal for this year was to find a job to stay in Japan. Three years of teaching English was an opportunity for me to heal in different ways: being away from family responsibilities, away from the queer community that I couldn’t bring myself to be a part of at the moment because my self-esteem was riding so low, and away from the ridiculousness of the changing Silicon Valley landscape that did not make me feel okay because after so many years in the video game industry, I still could not find myself where I wanted to be, and it seemed like everyone else was doing it better, jumping from company to company, living paycheck to paycheck, hustling, something I didn’t have the energy or enough of a risk-taking safety net to do. Japan felt like the only safe space for me where my frugal living and low-keyness can be appreciated and where it wouldn’t be too hard for me to blend in and do my thing.

And now I’m ready to leave my little town. While it has been quite an experience living in Aizu-Wakamatsu, it is truly also very conservative, and I find myself excited to leave and go back to a more diverse place. I feel like I am unraveling, taking my masks off, sharing more about my queer self on Facebook with all the Japanese neighbors following me, especially after Orlando.

I started the pain-staking process of writing my Japanese resume and CV early in the year, and actively started job searching in March, when I contacted Ubisoft Osaka after a couple years after the studio manager added me on LinkedIn. I contacted him again and asked if there were any openings, and he suggested I apply for an Assistant Producer job. We went through a couple Skype interviews and I was invited to visit the studio in Osaka, bullet-train expense paid. I felt really good and confident about the on-site interview, but in the end, I didn’t get it because my Japanese level wasn’t high enough to deal with Japanese developers. This was a problem back when I was interviewing for Sega for an assistant to the VP of Development position, that my Japanese just wasn’t high enough.

So I moved on and contacted a recruiter recommended by a friend. He said check back in May because of graduate recruitment season, so in the meantime, I did all I could throwing my resume out to Netflix Japan, Google Japan, Amazon Japan, EA Japan, even sending messages to Netflix HR Manager, and a weak link to a Netflix Content Manager in LA on LinkedIn to see if I could get her to get someone in Japan to notice me. For a while, I really appreciated LinkedIn’s ranking system and really felt wins as I was getting more views. But nothing came out of it. I had a breakdown in front of my sister and cousin in a Skype call, not knowing what I was going to do, except maybe go home and get a master’s degree in International Education, but not before taking Japanese classes and passing the N1 before leaving the country.

May came, and it was time to reconnect with the recruiter about trying to get a mid-career position. With Ubisoft out of the picture, I braced myself to interview with Japanese companies. After some consultation and brush-ups to my resume with the recruiter, he gave me a bunch of job descriptions to choose from and threw my package out to the companies I was interested in. Almost every company, including the famous Japanese companies, such as Konami and Bandai, rejected me for being a position mismatch, or that my skillset was too wide. Well, when you got to wear a lot of hats as an ass prod, you can’t help but have a wide skillset!

I got through to two Skype interviews, one with a love story mobile game company who needed an English speaker to help localize. Except that the way I was performing the interview was a total mismatch to what they needed (but they did compliment me on my upbeat character!). The second Skype interview was with an edu-tech start-up, which seemed like a winner, except that they wanted me to work as an engineer rather than a designer. They asked whether I could be a liason between their English education team and the engineering team to build their learning management notification system, which was familiar to what I knew at Leapfrog, only I didn’t have core experience in building it. While I didn’t understand the nuts and bolts, I was familiar with the problems it had, so I was upfront about what I would be able to do, and that I would gladly help design its structure. My rejection this time specifically mentioned my terrible Japanese (I have a feeling the returnee who was in the interviewing panel was highly critical and unforgiving), as well as mismatch to the positions they wanted to fill.

At this point, I was ready to go home to America and looking forward to being gay and queer again, but not looking forward to the November elections. But Ubisoft Osaka contacted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to apply for a game planner position. I asked for the job description and it was pretty perfect for me. I asked again whether my Japanese would be enough for the position, since they rejected me on that point in the first place, and they were confident that I would be able to do the job with the Japanese I’d demonstrated in my interviews.

Everything this time around went so smooth and fast, it was scary. On the day when I was supposed to have a Skype interview with them discussing the terms of the contract, I had 5 classes, 3 that needed a thunderbolt to VGA cable for my computer, and had a free period to go home to pick up a computer cable. As soon as I rode out of the school exit…

WHAM!

I was on my back against the other person’s bike, mine between my legs. I got up, moved the bikes out of the way because other people would be biking through, and went to see the other person. The girl was on her side, still, with a pool of blood near her face.

I ran to the nurse’s office, said that there was an accident in front of the school, lots of blood, said to call an ambulance. They didn’t realize I was hurt, too, and thought an old lady had hit her head or something. The nurse brought rags and ice, the ambulance came, and all I could think about were my classes. They had to persuade me to go to the hospital to get checked out. I got a CT scan of my head and an X-ray of my left arm. Aside from some big bruises and muscle soreness, I was fine.

The other person had a broken nose. And was 6 weeks pregnant.

What followed was the school taking me to apologize to the other party and discuss the settlements. Their insurance would take care of the medical bills, while I would have to compensate the other party a new bike.

It was the most culture shocking thing to do. Because the police were involved, I felt that apologizing gave them leverage to pursue me as much as they wanted and take whatever they could. I was foreigner, what do they care?

In any case, there was a lot of waiting because the police report couldn’t be done until the other party’s nose healed, and I was requested to pay for the bike before the report was issued. I said that I wouldn’t be paying for anything until my the accident was properly reported to my insurance, since the school pretty much told the other party that if there was anything they needed, I had foreigner’s insurance to cover it (which totally made me feel like I was thrown under the bus).

Did I mention that on the day of the accident, I still had the Skype interview with Ubisoft, and an hour after that, received a hiring contract?

What a day… And there’s even more!

For another day.