Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So what am I doing anyway?

Since I realize that not everyone knows exactly what I'm doing and where exactly I'm going, I figured that it'd be a good idea to preempt all your questions and just spill the beans on the table (oops!).

So where am I going? Well, if you look at the map on the left then you'll see a map of a magical place called "Japan", and if you look even closer you'll notice an area highlighted in a darker shade which is known as Miyagi Prefecture. If you have trouble remembering that, just think Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid and you're set. This place is 2 hours north of Tokyo by bullet train... roughly about as far as NYC is from DC I think. If you're wondering where Tokyo is on the map, look directly down from Miyagi and notice the Florida-like peninsula. That's Chiba (where I was last time), and Tokyo is directly to its left.

So I'll be in a town right outside Sendai, which is a city of 1 million, in a place called Shichigahama. Think of it like Jersey minus the whole "armpit of the country" thing. The weird part is that even though I'm 20 minutes outside of town, the train doesn't go to my area so I need a WRX, err, I mean I need a car. More on that to come soon.

The name of the town I'm in directly translates to "7 beaches", so there are beaches there... most likely 7 of them. It's north enough that they get real snow, so I need a WRX, err, I mean an AWD car. Oh, and the local specialty since every town in Japan has one is cow tongue. Yummy. All in all I'm happy with the placement - they ask you where you'd like to go and then put you wherever they have open, and not only was Sendai one of my first 2 choices but I also asked for a suburban placement. Add a big (for Japan) apartment with free rent and parking to the mix and I'm happier than a pig in slop!

So that leaves the question of what the hell I'm doing in Japan. Quite simply, I'm going to be the token white guy. Less simply but more accurately, I'm going to be a CIR for the JET Program, which is short for Coordinator of International Relations. No, I am not an English teacher, but I probably will wind up doing a little of it as part of my job. Still not helping?

Well, I'm working at the Shichigahama International Village (七ヶ浜国際村), which is basically a modernish, artsy looking community center with an international flair. They even have a nice looking concert hall and an amphitheater. I'll wind up helping to run events and eventually setting up my own, running a cultural club and holding seperate international cultural classes for both little kids and adults, giving occasional speeches or writing columns on international stuff (in Japanese!), acting as the contact for the sister city of Plymouth, Massachusetts including helping out an exchange student and such, as well as the occassional translation and/or interpretation job.

Basically, for me it means a chance to work in a Japanese working environment, improve my Japanese further and find out what I want to do with it. Hopefully along the way I'll meet some people and have some fun. If I can, I'll be sqeezing some capoeira, soccer, snowboarding, and random traveling in there as well. There's a capoeira club not too far away, the slopes are a driveable distance (as are hot springs!!), and I plan on checking out the rest of Asia this time around.

Ok, I hope that covers a whole bunch of the general questions, but if you want to know more - well that's what this whole thing is all about, right? Just ask!


dk said...

That kinda looks like a museum. You're going to be in the white people exhibit! Sweet. You should throw your crap at people.

darg said...

Only if they gave me a monkey as a roomie or something so he could show me how it's done - monkeys are cool.