It is not easy to summarise an entire year and a half when so much has happened.
My time in Japan has been surreal. Often I have caught myself thinking, am I really here? Is this really happening? Living alone hasn’t helped. It’s much easier to convince yourself you’re dreaming when it’s only you somewhere. Somewhere you once only imagined. Other times, I can’t picture anything but here.
The thought of leaving makes me anxious. Alas, I will try to take comfort in my learnings and achievements.
The work-focused Japanese lifestyle has taught me the importance of slowing down and of putting energy into what’s actually important (family and service).
The strong focus on presentation (whether it be of food, gifts or one’s own physical appearance) has taught me how a small detail and/or an ounce of extra effort can make a world of difference.
The excess plastic and countryside open house fires have opened my eyes to our decaying world and its pained scream for help.
The unbelievable independence in young Japanese children has taught me the fruitfulness of good parenting and/or education. At the same time, the exam-focused curriculum has reiterated for me the importance of creativity and self-expression.
The time, energy and importance given to many a special Japanese occasion (whether it be a religious holiday, a summer festival or a school sport event) has first-handedly shown me the fruits of hard-work and the joy in celebration.
Really, the list is endless. And gradually revealing, as time passes.
As for me, I hope I have taught my students that anything can happen. That anything is possible and to dream always. Like a 7 year old Persian girl becoming a Japan-living English teacher. I do hope I inspired them to travel outside of Japan to experience other worlds and cultures. To laugh, joke and to express their emotions. To be original and comfortable in their God-given skin for it is being different that has me receiving daily double-takes.
As for my Japanese friends, I know for a fact I taught them how to be “healthier”. To care more for natural foods, products and home-made granola! In addition, smoothie-bowls, sugar-free baking and brown bread. Also, to hug hello and goodbye and to be confident. Yeah, my English is awesome! Yeah, it’s okay to ask that stranger to take a picture, to laugh out loud in front of others and to change our wet socks in public.
To everyone who has made this journey possible (from my Japanese friends to my patient friends and family back home dealing with my infinite complaints), I give my utmost gratitude and respect. Lastly, as for my future, I literally have no idea whatsoever where I will be or what I will be doing in it. All I know is that I hope to live a life of service. For my number one understanding from this packed experience, so eloquently expressed in the following Bahai quotation is this: “you live to do good and to bring happiness to others.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha).
A picture sent to me by my dear ex-colleague of her sweet sweet daughter. “We like taking photos like you,” she said.