For over a year, the college has been trying to get a foreign language teacher from Japan to work at our school to teach Japanese.
In order for my English majors to graduate, they are required to have a second foreign language aside from English. In order for a student to enter a 4-year university from our 3-year college, they also must have 2 foreign languages.
The school only offers Japanese as another foreign language aside from English, which every student (8,000) in the college is required to take.
Students can, however, study German, Russian and French on their own from textbooks. All they need to do is pass a listening and multiple-choice test in order to pass the language requirements so in-class lessons aren’t really necessary. If you buy the study textbooks and work on your own, you can probably pass the test with a lot of luck.
But with Japanese, the school has 2 Chinese teachers with Japanese majors who have been taking over extra-curricular classes taught on the weekends to those wishing to learn Japanese. The enrollment of this class has been increasing so it was decided several years ago a native speaker might be a good idea.
Problems seemed to meet Catherine (Yin Ying), in the school’s foreign affairs office, from every angle. Every time she tried to hire a Japanese teacher, something went wrong.
One person teaching Japanese in Shanghai was very interested in Luzhou but then looked the city up on the Internet. He decided the city was too small and provincial for him. He was also quite demanding in his requirements to teach here, including higher pay and better housing facilities than the college could offer.
Another person was willing to come but couldn’t get the necessary visa to do so. And yet another Japanese backed out because he had a better offer elsewhere.
So it was with great excitement that Catherine finally snagged Yoshi, a retired government office worker from Tokyo who was looking to teach in China somewhat as a volunteer. He went through a Japanese organization that does service projects for those overseas and an opening was posted at our college.
After over half-a-year of waiting due to visa difficulties, Yoshi (age 58) finally arrived on our campus a month ago to begin his 1 ½ year position. He is the only native speaking Japanese teacher in the city, from what I understand.
Of course, it’s been very nice to have someone new to Luzhou to show around. I have been especially excited to have Yoshi as I lived in Japan for over a year, working at the Kyoto YWCA as their English language teacher.
Yoshi is also a Christian, which is not the norm as only 1 % of the population are Christians in Japan. Yoshi comes from a long line of Catholics. I had wanted to get him to the Catholic church here in Luzhou. I know where it is and had even stopped by years ago to ask about services. But Yoshi and I soon found out the Catholic church no longer has weekly services. They only hold worship on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Obviously, there just aren’t enough Catholic Chinese Christians in Luzhou to warrant more regular gatherings.
Thus Yoshi has been coming with me to the Luzhou Protestant Church.
Yoshi has been completely enthralled by the numbers who come every Sunday to church. In Japan, there are so few at his services. To see so many Christians of all ages gathered together here in China, which he originally thought was closed to religion, has greatly opened his eyes to the changes of this country.
It’s been very enlightening to get to know Yoshi during the past month. I have found he is an unusual and unique Japanese, very different from other Tokyo-ites.
He has traveled the entire world, going to places not in tour groups (as so many Japanese do) but independently on his own.
Because Japanese government jobs give longer vacations, he was able to take off for weeks at a time to explore different countries. He’s been to Canada, North and South America, all over Europe and South-east Asia, and had several enjoyable visits to China. In fact, Yoshi speaks Spanish and Chinese very well, not to mention English.
Originally, Yoshi considered going to South America to teach Japanese. He said he wanted to go to a place that needed him. But South America didn’t offer as many positions for Japanese teachers so he began looking at China.
And now, here he is.
The truly wonderful thing about Yoshi is his sheer happiness in being in China. Many who come to China complain about the culture, the habits of the people, and the food. They find something negative to say about everything and wind up making themselves miserable as well as those around them.
But Yoshi takes everything as it comes.
When he was asked to take a second physical examination for his visa because his Japanese physical exam papers weren’t acceptable, he laughed it off.
“That’s O.K. I don’t mind!”
I know other foreign visitors who have refused to have an exam done in China.
I once saw an irate American rattle her U.S. medical results in front of a Luzhou government official and snap, “These are from my country and they’re fine! You will accept them and you’ll accept them now. I won’t pay for another examination in a Chinese hospital. You’re trying to get more money out of me.”
The woman eventually did have to have the exam in Luzhou, at a cost of a mere $35. In America, it had cost her over $350.
If she had been smart, she’d have just done it here to begin with and not caused such a nasty scene in front of her Chinese colleagues and others who were trying to do their jobs.
Yoshi has never been married. His current family is composed of his younger brother, who has 2 children in their 20’s, and his father, now in his 90s who is being cared for by his brother.
“I am a bad son,” he once told me over coffee, shaking his head. “I should take care of my father because I am the oldest. Maybe after China, I will go back to help my brother with this burden. Now, I want to do something different in my life. I feel I should be here to help others.”
Like I said, Yoshi is a very unusual and unique Japanese man but as a Christian, I think he’s right on the mark: giving service, care and love to others. That’s what being a Christian, and an all-round good person on this Earth, is all about.
Enjoy pictures of our Easter celebrations in the Luzhou Protestant Church from April 12. We really had a wonderful Easter. Hope you did, too!
As always, from Luzhou, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.