The first time I went to the school was in late August 2007. I had to go with the CEO of my dispatching company. She picked me up at the station nearest to the school in her SUV. She’s a Japanese woman who speaks English very well. We made small talk in the car while heading to the school. When we got to the school, I was surprised. It looked like a prison, but without the grass.
We entered the school and took off our shoes. We put on the provided slippers and headed to the secretary. The CEO did all of the talking. The secretary took us to the Principal’s office. His office was huge. It was bigger than most Japanese apartments I had seen. He even had a big coffee table with 2 couches facing each on the long ends, and two fancy leather chairs facing each other at the short ends.
The Principal was tall and lanky. He was much taller than the average Japanese man. He demeanor was calm. His face was fixed into a warm and friendly smile.
He asked us to sit down. The CEO and I sat one couch, next to one another. The Principal sat in the chair diagonal to us. Two other men came in, no introduction, and sat on the couch opposite of the CEO and me. I never saw these two men again after that day. Maybe there were from the local Board of Education. They asked me to introduce myself in Japanese. I did so in a very simple way. I said my name, hometown, experience in Japan, and how I usually spend my free time.
They were surprised about my Japanese level. I said I had been in Japan for almost two years. The Principal, in Japanese, said, “Yeah, Canadians are pretty good workers. We’ve had trouble with the English and Americans before. Canadians are good.” I nodded and had a sip of the green tea on the table.