It is not by LUCK that an adult student enrolled at Olives Language School today. I don’t believe in “good luck” nor charms nor fortune-tellers so I just brush away greetings kindly offered to me. Two days ago, I received an unexpected call asking about our English lessons and school fees. Great that the lady caller came for a trial lesson today.
As the Inquirer came early and just a few minutes when our Japanese male accountant unexpectedly came back to give the tax documents from our city hall, I asked her to fill out our questionnaire form. It’s her first time to enter our school but I need to leave her to finish my lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. Quite a scene running to another place and leaving somebody who I even don’t know at all. Well, I gave her permission to check our textbooks or go around the school just to kill time while waiting for me.
With about 20 minutes explanation of our school system, the 68-year old lady narrated that she’s supposed to be with another lady but declined to join her because the teacher is not Caucasian and she comes from the Philippines. They did their research about me and checked our school website (www.olives2020.com). I was actually asked where I come from and she felt comfortable that I’m from the northern part of my country. I don’t blame my students and other inquirers and never take it against them. The recent bombing in the southern part of the Philippines is not really good news and scares them. The reputation of the Filipinos in Japan is not also okay. Well, I’ve “swallowed a lot of criticisms and discrimination” on behalf of my countrymen, leaders, where I come from, etc. Life goes on.
When my friends learned about my coming to Japan in the early 1990s, many were surprised or even shocked as I can’t sing nor dance and quite a quiet type. It’s an interesting generalization that all Filipinos working in Japan are entertainers. My adult students expressed our unique beauty. I’m quick to admit to them that I’m darker & shorter than most Filipinos and this is the distinct feature of most people from the northern Philippines. I never dyed my hair nor wore blue contact lenses just to look Caucasian, as others did. I’m happy the way I am and take me or leave me if “we are awanai” (personalities don’t match).
Last Saturday, there was actually an incident in our school. As the mom was nervous her child will fail the English national test (eiken) again which is to be administered the following day, she expressed her frustrations in Japanese language but I understood her and felt for her. I asked our local staff if she met such kind of “monster moms” before and she responded it’s her first time, too. I heard a lot about this local moms’ character and I never thought I will encounter such people. The fear of the unknown (test result) makes me also unsettled and not a good reputation for our school if even one of our students failed. In humility and calmness, better to let her children go. High expectations of racist, lying, loud moms are off-limits under my turf.
As I enjoyed my academics growing up and great to land at the premier university in my country, it’s good to teach learning techniques, especially language acquisition, and to share my exposures and experiences in the many countries I’ve visited. I can be an example of an English learner who became a teacher then a school owner. (Nothing to brag about as I went through a lot like fooled by my student’s mom to register my first school using my savings & resources…I actually ended up as just a teacher and the Japanese family declared the school under their name; twice fooled as the husband disguised as a lawyer-accountant! Hiring a Japanese lawyer to counter the family’s claims & clear my records cost hard-earned money, sapped my emotions and energy as I was super busy teaching at 2 big junior high schools in Kodaira City, Tokyo plus YMCA & other cram schools and right in my rented house.) Helpless foreigner me in the Land of the Rising Sun and need to battle against time in my immigration-related processing. (Hope this blog gives a picture of realities in Japan.)
The honesty, trust, and our unique lesson plan and school system led today’s inquirer to enroll, paid right away our learning materials and will start the lesson next week. She was surprised that our school is “kabushikikaisha” (incorporated) and I’m the sole owner. I told her that I need to hire a Japanese accountant, staff and immigration lawyers to keep the 4-year old school and we are undergoing expensive renovation to make the former coffee house good looking and conducive for learning.
Hope someday soon no more discrimination by virtue of color and origin and the locals do not take advantage of the foreigners’ situation like the sad experiences I narrated above. If I’ve gone beyond my teaching craft in enlightening about accepting my race, the Filipinos and other foreigners, I think this is my success story in my 26+ years residing in Japan. Glad to hear how I impacted the lives of my students. Great to be of influence to people I interacted with. I’m blessed to be a blessing here. Living my Creator’s purpose is my utmost desire and for His glory alone.