Wax on, wax off

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Training and meeting some fellow Interac ALT’s

That’s probably my favorite scene from Karate Kid. And it has great context for real life. This training we had to go through for Interac was, in it’s purest form, a wax on and wax off type of setup. We weren’t standing around waxing cars but the mental reaction was no less repetitive.

Personally, I’ve been through many of these types of trainings as a Resident Assistant, college ambassador, camp counselor and so on. I got the feeling most of the other ALT’s present had done this exact training before at least once if not several times. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it. Most of it was new information but the format was much the same as in any other training. It’s difficult to make things like this interesting when you’re stuck in a little office conference room (or even when you have a whole college campus to romp around in). I took a ton of notes, unlike my peers, because if I don’t write it down, I lose it almost instantaneously. I have the memory of a gnat. So they’d tell us some stuff, hand out some papers, some people would ask questions, and so on until all the information they could possible cram into those few days has been stuffed down our proverbial gullets.

Plus we got real pizza. Nice.

The people at said training were all very interesting folks, as I would expect of the type of person who’s willing to travel to a foreign land who’s people are almost as culturally confusing as their language. These folks were all shapes, all sizes, all accents, and most certainly all personalities. Although most of them were surely type- A, some were goofs, others were sarcastic to the point of ridiculousness, and others still were aloof (that was probably my category…). There were Australian, two different English, Malay, and handful of broad ranged American accents.

What was most surprising to me was that I was one of the youngest. I think one other guy was the same age or one year younger than myself. That I was not expecting. I just assumed the majority of folks doing this type of thing would be fresh out of college. Instead, there was a wide range of situations like one guy had a wife working as a JET, several had been working with Interac for several years, a few had worked with other private companies and were hoping to move on to better prospects through Interac. I also thought I would have an okay understanding of Japanese and the culture comparatively. This was blatantly wrong. I knew the least and had the least cultural experience. After I got over feeling sore about it, I started feeding off those more experienced that surrounded me.

Eating with them for lunch and out for dinner was also an adventure. Kim, a new friend, and I sat together and being girls, we clung to each other a little. Though I didn’t know her at first, I grew to like her just as I got to know the others. It’s funny sometimes how those things work. But I think it’s always best to just dive in together. You never know what you’ll come out with. I’m just eternally grateful for everyone’s patience with me. At times I felt like the dim-witted child, the one you drag around on a leash. This was not because of anything they did, of course, it was just the situation as it was for me. The saddest part was that most of us were going pretty far from each other so I think that made some people hesitant to make any meaningful friendships quickly.

Some of the places we at at that were memorable were a little hole in the wall okonomiyaki place, an izukaya on the basement level of some random building that we were sort of lured to be street walking advertisment, and a awesome Indian resturaunt where the owner was as authentic as the food… delisiozo.

Sum-up: The training was to the point and mostly succinct. Some things could have been left to our own reading but I’m glad it wasn’t any shorter than it was. The people were good and I didn’t have any issues getting along or being friendly. For those preparing for their own upcoming trainings, just focus on getting there in one piece and with your sanity intact. The rest will follow suit.

With love – M

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