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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Resistance Is Futile

The following is a chapter from the book I'm working on - chapter 10, in fact. I'm doing a Moby Dick and alternating chapters (for a while) creating chapters on Japan, and others that are about me but help to define who I am.

This is one of the latter. I am presenting this because it might give some of you a heads-up on what the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme was letting in to Japan.  

It's all raw and unedited, and may not resemble at all what I hope the end product will be - but I'm testing it out bit by bit on you.  Cheers.

Chapter 10
Resistance Is Futile

If I learned one thing at York University while getting a political science degree, is that university was a waste of time when you aren’t specializing in a subject. Unless you know you want to go to business school, be a lawyer, teacher, engineer or doctor, university is the non-specialist’s death knell. They teach you theory—and admittedly some cool theory, such as how to measure mountains on the moon armed only with a shadowy photograph and a calculator—but generally speaking, you don’t get to actually practice what they preach. For example, in Astronomy class, we were never afforded the opportunity to look through a telescope. Consider, if you will, that I am smarter than the average bear (just how smart is a bear, anyway?) in astronomy, I have never peered at the starry, starry night except with my own myopic peepers.
As well, university seemed to encourage factions… they had the Jews for Jesus club, the Italian Federation, the Indian Federation, Young PCs of Canada… I thought—hoped—that university would stop separating the people, and allow us to just… I don’t know… get along?
But in college, it was less about theory, and more about college. I didn’t learn about communicating, I did it.  
As I was to learn later, being in the JET Programme, and indeed in life, it’s all about communicating effectively. If it's not, it bloody well should be.
I did see gaijin/foreigner eggheads in Japan who knew everything about Japan, had always wanted to be in Japan, and were super smart—book smart, but they were the most boring people I had ever met. They couldn’t communicate anything to anyone that would make anyone want to learn more.
Me? I might be an egomaniac to some, confident to others, but I am NOT boring. I'm not stupid either, but at this time in my life, I was finally beginning to come into my own as a non-lazy bastard.
Back at Humber College in Toronto... with the Toronto Star newspaper internship and JET teaching interviews out of the way, I continued to do what I did in Toronto:
  • I went to school and excelled at editing newspaper articles written by others;
  • I wrote my own stories, articles and columns;
  • I was the nice, friendly guy that would talk to anyone anywhere anytime about anything, being buds with the secretary of the Dean, to the lady running the hotdog cart, to all the teachers regardless of their department;
  • I helped anyone who needed help;
  • I did my school internships;
  • Got fired from a school internship due to a conflict with the same woman who told me all about the JET Programme in the first place;
  • Helped create the school newspaper and a special strike newspaper when there was a college strike;
  • Partied heavily with the journalism students;
  • Coached the women's college soccer team;
  • Tried to date a college athletic director – just a few dates, just friends (sigh);
  • Dated a couple of other women – just a few dates (sigh);
  • Taught piano to eight students, and clarinet to one;
  • Excelled at school.
I was a busy guy and my parents were proud that I was no longer a punchline to a William Shatner Saturday Night Live skit regarding nerds who lived in their parent’s basement.
Then came the news that I was accepted in the Toronto Star Summer Internship Program
, becoming the first Canadian community college student to be accepted into it. Ever.
The next day, I found out I was accepted by the JET Programme to go and teach in Japan.
Let me tell you something... the Japan thing scared the crap out of me. Here I was accepted to be a reporter for the best newspaper in Canada—what I had devoted the past two years of my life as a student for, and I was going to have to cut it short to go and work in Japan—a place I still didn't want to go to.
Really… I just wanted to get laid. I could get laid in Toronto, right? Maybe.
What if I never got a chance to work for the newspaper again? As well, they often hired interns to work full-time once the summer was over.
I really didn't want to go to Japan.
But... this time it was my Dad who calmed me down, telling me to do the newspaper internship and then quit to go to Japan for the one year contract, then when I get back, to get back into the newspaper business.
I agreed, but right up until the very last night when I was to depart Toronto for Japan, I had to be convinced this was the right thing to do. I really didn't want to go to Japan.
Obviously I went.
I had my highs and had my lows, but I was constantly learning—and in my mind, you can't beat more knowledge. Ever.

That's it for now. Not quite the brave guy setting off on a brave new journey... but, I'm not cutting myself enough slack. Anytime anyone leaves home - for school, work or love... there's a lot of bravery involved. 

Get brave,
Andrew Joseph

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