Here is a preview (two months early!) of the article I just wrote for the Hiroshima International Center's quarterly newsletter. That's right! I'm leakin' ME! Because the publication is made using our tax yennies, it has to be tame, but I still mean everything I wrote, even if it comes off as sappy. Enjoy!
I LOVE EXCHANGE 国際交流最高！－ 1月末行われた雪生活体験の楽しい一日について
By Greg Beck
Working at the Hiroshima International Center for the three years has truly been a blessing. As the resident English translator it can be hard. With a lot of last minute translation requests, long hours, and a constantly changing schedule it is impossible to commit to anything in my “free time”, because my free time is different every week! But, would I trade my experience for a “normal” Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm job? NO!
|This photo won't be in the article, but apparently some Chinese people are equally clueless about what they wear!|
|Old dudes chillin' with hot sake|
Most recently, I had the honor of working at the Life in the Snow Experience event for my third consecutive year. Even though I always have a wonderful time working at every exchange event, this was quite possibly the best event I have ever experienced! Here is what happened:
After driving two hours into the snowy north of Mizokuchi, located in Kita-hiroshima Town, we arrived at the Miwa-higashi Culture Center with participants from all over the world chatting excitedly in at least eight different languages. Outside more than one meter of beautiful, pure snow, had fallen on a hill with big, black inter-tubes, waiting to be used as sleds. After the opening ceremony inside, we split into two groups. A quarter of the participants went to the kitchen to make dishes from their home countries to share at lunch. Everyone else went outside to play in the snow. Also outside, some of the senior citizens had set up around the same rusty wood stove they do every year, heating sake in freshly cut, hollowed-out bamboo, and pouring the hot sake for anyone nearby into more fresh-cut, bamboo cups. This year however, they had outdone themselves, passing out fresh-stewed wild boar ribs for everyone to snack on in the hours before lunch.
|That's one of my bosses with sake and wild boar ribs|
Our participants from 15 countries went wild playing in the snow, and sliding down the hill. This year an quiet old gentleman had made his own sled out of skis, and everyone had a turn on it. “Can two people sit on it?” asked two girls, “Yes, two people is best”, he said sitting down and beckoning the closest one to ride with him, completely oblivious to the thought they may have wanted to go together!
Time passed quickly and at noon we all went inside for lunch and some amazing performances. The spread of Japanese food was amazing, with Indian curry, Chinese shrimp in chili sauce, Vietnamese fried spring rolls, and New Zealand no-bake cheesecake mix in among the dishes.
|As you can see, the locals did NOT ask for my help translating these (Kabocha = Pumpkin)|
|Left to Right - Japan, Korea, China|
|I fucking LOVE Kagura! Also, possibly the best-timed photo I've ever taken!|
All day I kept pausing and thinking to myself, “I am so lucky”, and “This is my job? Amazing!” Everyone did a wonderful job of teaching each other about their cultures. Not just foreigner-to-Japanese, but every one learned something about the different nations represented that day. I know people sometimes fear the unfamiliar, but this job has taught me that nothing is more fun than sharing and learning about different cultures.