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The Asian ApertureGreat Adventures in English Teaching
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, September 21, 2011    Share

10-years ago, when I was an English Teacher teaching English Conversation to Japanese students in Toyonaka City, Osaka, Japan, I met a peculiar student who caught me off guard. I was just beginning my lesson and trying to get through the first phase of my lesson, the icebreaker stage, when the student with long spikey hair, a la Naruto, wearing a black T-shirt asked me if I ever did drugs. People who know me know that I rarely drink and never do drugs, so naturally I replied, “No, I never use drugs.”
He looked shocked and said, “You’re crazy all Americans do drugs!!”
Now it was getting interesting. I decided to probe him to find out how he came to this conclusion.
I said, “Why do you say that?”
“Because it’s true.”
Eventually I kept chatting with him until he told me a story about his first trip to America.
He told me that when he got to the US, he stayed with a host family while he went to high school. His host mother asked him to do a favor. She gave him a brown bag and told him to go to the nearby 7 11 and give it to a man waiting outside. She said to make sure to get his money before giving him the bag. So off he went and along the way, he looked into the bag and saw some strange white substance. He trusted his host mother and so he found the man and sold him the bag. Then he went back home. I didn’t say it out loud but I remember thinking that his mother was a crack dealer. She was conning him into selling drugs. He saw several people smoking pot and crack in his neighborhood.
At the end of his story it all made sense. He thought all American was like what he had experienced but it just isn’t so. He was living in a low income neighborhood so that was all he knew about American life. I thought it was strange that an exchange program would put him in that type of situation.
Anyway, I tried to convince him that he was wrong that all Americans did drugs and he just refused to believe me.
It is interesting how your perspective can be formed based on environment and experience. I told him to go back to the US and see a different city. Surely he would not be in a crack house, next time.
I have met many different Japanese during my 1-year teaching stint and I have learned a lot about how diverse the Japanese can be. I also learned a lot about stereotypes between the US and Japan and how people extravagate.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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