I really appreciate God for giving me three grand children this year 2011.
Friday, July 8, 2011
This association was established in 2002 with the aim of promoting social interaction between the Africans in the Miyagi Prefecture and the Japanese community. I was the President for 3 years. Under my leadership we organized so many activities such as visiting pension home where we staged a performance to portray African values through songs and dancing. Some pictures.
I have been living in Japan for 25 years and have experienced many earthquakes but they were nothing like the one I felt on Friday, March 11. I was in the office on the eleventh floor. Japanese are normally used to earthquakes so when the shaking started everyone was casual. Earthquakes normally pass quickly but this time the shaking only increased. I clearly remember the moment when we all looked at each other in panic and then began to hide under the tables. With my long legs I was struggling to get fit under the table but still wasn’t easy. At one time I stood up and looked around the office but could not see anyone, they were all under tables.
The quake lasted about two minutes and came in two waves: A strong, rocking rumble, followed by something that felt like the floor being jerked violently back and forth. I became scared and confused because my mind went on my daughter who had taken the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai. I knew she would be in the bulet train the time the quake happened.
Finally, when everything stopped, we turned on the TV in the office and the news unfolded was tsunami sweeping houses along the costline in the Tohoku region.
Luckily no one in my family nor the Ghanaians in Miyagi prefecture was hurt, and there was very little damage. But the catastrophe, for us, had just begun.
News of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant unfolded and it wasn't good. For days, no one knew how far the damage would go, and how long the situation would last. There were so many rumors and a lot of people didn't know what to do. The conclusion for most of our friends was to leave Japan. Any call we got the message was simply “we’re living”.
Some of our friends attempted to leave Sendai by car through Yamagata to the western part of Japan. The situation in Sendai wasn’t the best so my son-in-law who is leaving in Nagoya drove from Nagoya to pick my wife and daughter including our pet (dog) to Nagoya.
The radiation problems was posing a serious problem and threatening. At one time the only option was to make a decision to send my three daughters who are pregrant to leave Japan for the US. But my wife had more faith to cool the tempo down by asking us to hold on for awhile and see if the situation would improve.I visited Ghana briefly for my mum’s one-year anniversary. When I got to Kotoka International Airport (Accra) and pulled out my Japanese passport at the immigration, the lady at the counter quickly shouted “Eiii wofi Japan?” “are you coming from Japan” ? Ka wo ho ko fie, won nyinara woo kwen wo” meaning hurry up and go home they are all waiting for you to celebrate. The immigration staffs were so happy to see me back home from Japan.
The danger has not passed yet but home is where my family is so I have returned to Japan hoping that the Lord will have favor and protect us for these natural disasters.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
BETTY ASIEDU (FOOD CORDINATOR)
I arrived in Japan on April 4, 1988 unsure of what to expect, but knowing it would be a completely new experience for me. My husband who came a year earlier came to meet me and my two kids at the Narita International Airport so I wasn’t alone.
The first place that I went during the second day of my arrival was a hospital since one of my kids had a cold. I was extremely nervous about the fact that there was no way I could explain the situation of my kid in Japanese to the medical officer. Thanks to a voluntary woman who accompanied us and explained on my behalf.
My first encounter with Japanese was when I started part-time work at a “futon” store. As a part-time employee, I worked 4 hours a day from Monday through Friday. I mainly worked with packaging goods and extra responsibilities like keeping my work-place neat and open up cases containing “futon”. By the end of each day everyone was rather grateful that I was able to accomplish the task that was assigned to me. They looked forward to working with me the next day by saying “ Jah mata ashita” before I leave for home. The little culture shock I had in this work place was that anybody I met would tell me “gambatte kudasai”. I took it literary to mean, “do your best”. In my country those who don’t work hard at the office or a work place are always told to do their best. So I took it to mean that I wasn’t doing my best and that they rather wanted me to work harder. I kept putting in extra effort in my work process, finishing my days task in extraordinary short time but still they kept telling me “gambatte kudasi”. This gave me stress and I couldn’t stand it any longer so one day I asked one of them who asked me the same question that “watshi wa gambatte nai desu ka”? Nan de itsumo gambate kedasai iu no? The person took her time to explain the meaning of “gambatte kudasi” to me and I noticed that it was rather a friendly attitude and an encouragement toward getting a good work done. One positive evaluation was that the workers there didn’t change their behavior on account of my being there as a foreigner, so I really felt like a part of the workers.
Onsen was something I never thought I could take part. For my first experience I was really nervous. However, It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but now I always have a feeling of having more chances.
In a summary, now my ability and confidence to speak and understand Japanese has risen greatly and now have no fear going by myself to get something done anywhere in Sendai. Finally, I have learned about myself, and what kind of person I am.
A key to successful living in a foreign country is to have open mind, a will to learn, and to not be afraid of making mistakes but be sure to correct them the next time. My stay here has been great cultural and language improving experience. I had to experience eating Japanese food, the culture, and speak in the language everyday. The feeling I get when I can communicate, understand, and learn new things in a language other than English is indescribable.
When I first came I assumed I would be happy to go back home but I have found myself to be very comfortable with my current life especially building my family without outside interference. If you ask me what the ingredients are to a good relationship in a foreign country I can say that they are:
1. Mutual respect,
2. Not always staying in your own house separating yourself from your neighbors,
3. Trying to live by the rules that they live by meaning not always thinking that your way is the best but trying other methods and
4. Not waiting to be asked to help but helping before you are asked.
People are afraid of differences so it is hard for them to get along with different kinds of persons but I think that we all have many more similarities than we do differences. If both sides were to realize this, then perhaps a common middle between the two cultures could be found.