After Sports Festival Celebrations

For some school events, there is a special after party for all the teachers. Last year I had an interesting and fun time getting to see a different side of some of my fellow teachers. I spoke with the female PE teacher for half an hour and thought that I had made a friend. I had been incredibly disappointed when I went back to work a few days later and found that she still basically ignored me. I was crushed when I realized that any social progress I had made at the party did not count in the workplace.

What happens at the after party stays at the after party, this counts for socializing as well. People do many strange things when they drink at the parties, including talking to the foreigner.

Since then, I felt I knew what to expect. I sort of prepared myself for a lack of change after any social interactions. Friendship with my non-English teachers seems to be very temporary. They are great to talk to and hang out with in the moment, but once the moment is broken, no permanent progress has been made.

After the sports festival this year, I prepared myself for this going into the party. I told myself that I would work to talk to people and enjoy the night, even if I knew I wasn’t earning social currency or XP that I could use in the future.

With this in mind, I had a great time. At first I had been really disappointed because we had randomized seating. We all drew numbers and had assigned seats. At my table was the principal, the vice principal, one of the nurses, and two other teachers who very rarely speak to me more than saying hello. I thought it was going to be awful.

And then the alcohol came out. My principal made a serious effort to speak to me in English throughout the night. The best part of the night came a bit later in the evening:

Him: In the college entrance exams, my English score was not only my lowest score, but it was way below the average English score.

            Me: But when you speak English with me, it makes me really happy. It makes me happy that you are even trying.

Him: Then I will try English!

I have always thought my principal was a cool guy, but I’ve never gotten a change to hang out with him before. I went home feeling great and like I had really connected with him. Maybe he would actually start to say hi to me at work. I wasn’t hoping for more than that, but at least a small hello in the morning would have been nice.

I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when things were just like normal the next workday. There was no hello, no smile that showed that we had spoken for nearly three hours. Even though I felt a bit disappointed, I am still incredibly happy that he tried so hard to speak to me and explain things to me during the party. I look forward to talking with him at the next party.


2 thoughts on “After Sports Festival Celebrations

  1. Jodi-san
    I worked with the Japanese for years so I COMPLETELY understand your recurring
    frustrations. However, you know my personality so I want you to embrace your
    own relaxed and silly side and PUSH yourself more on your Nihon-jin peers, bosses,
    and neighbors. This is extremely important for your cultural development. Yes at first they
    may not know how to react but it does not mean you are not making a favorable impression.
    I always considered it MY JOB to show the Japanese the best side of American business and
    in turn learn from them the best side of Japanese Management. In a very real sense it is also
    YOUR JOB to teach the teachers Jodi’s way. All they know is the cultural safety of years of
    conformity and deference to authority. Trust me, the Japanese ADMIRE the American spirit
    and our ability to adapt and ‘cowboy’ our way to often a BETTER answer. Keep putting
    yourself out there and see if they play golf, who they read, what television they watch –
    ANYTHING that can give you an insight into cracking the hard social shell. Be persistent,
    tease, laugh, offer opinions and DON’T let your feelings get hurt. Just wake up the next
    day and do it all over again. Like anything of import that you wish to learn – Practice, Practice,
    Practice – just like lacrosse except it hurts a LOT less since you won’t get hit in the head!
    Proud of you – hang in there and Congrats on the start of a 2nd great year!

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