Random feedback to Nanzan University students

November 9, 1998 copy/pasted without explanation, other than I saved this and many other documents.

Student name: Norie
This has happened to me so many times. I dream that I am trying to wake up, but I can’t do it. So I try harder. Finally, I succeed in my dream, and then I really wake up, too! It’s quite amazing.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I have tried green tea ice cream and I don’t like it. The combination doesn’t suit me. I guess this is just a typical matter of not growing up with the taste and not able to fully appreciate it.

I wonder if this is the age. When I was a university student, I saw a lot of concerts. I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, so all the very biggest bands came to town to play, and I had a large choice of concerts. However, in every case, I always felt the same way as you felt at your concert. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

If you are interested in understanding your dreams, I suggest you read a little bit of Carl Jung, the psychologist, and, I suppose, Sigmund Freud, too. Jung said that our subconscious was trying to communicate with us through dreams. He wrote a lot of interesting books on the subject, and I’ve peeked at one or two of them.

Norie, Nice job here. Please keep up your pace. You are moving along very nicely at this rate.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Maho
Sukiyaki – It’s so interesting that you should study the history of this strange song. I grew up with it, and later became embarrassed to know the title expresses the complete ignorance of Japan by the American people. It is still the only Japanese pop song that has ever been popular in the U.S. Seiko Matsuda is well known in the U.S. for her failures to break into the market there. It certainly is a strange musical relationship between our two countries.
I think that men, in general, never really grow up past a child’s age (myself included…YES). We are stuck as mental children. Women, on the other hand, are more rational and have the emotional strength that you say you lack. I would bet that you DO have that strength, but that you are being modest.

It sounds like drinking this drink will simply spoil your appetite, in which case, it is most likely a very effective drink. Just reading about it made me lose my appetite. HA HA!
It is interesting that most things in life need some kind of license or certificate, like driving, or getting a job with a good company. But parenting: well, no one needs anything special to have a kid, and I’ve seen too many bad parents out there. I think, though, that since you express concern here, that you’ll grow into being a very good mom, so I would say, don’t worry about it so much.

Maho, You’ve done a nice job of writing to a variety of topics. I hope to see you go more in depth with some of the topics you have written about. It would not hurt to pursue one line of thought over several days writing. I would also suggest you re-read some of your work after a few days, and then do some re-writing, again, going more in-depth. Good luck.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Yoko
Drinking? Smoking? Well, it’s not a surprise. I think people are doing things at a younger and younger age. My question for you is, what will you do when your son/daughter starts drinking/smoking at, say, age 15 or so? How will you react to that??

I admit that I do not vote in American elections. I voted only once, back in 1980, when I had just turned 19. Now, I’m just very cynical about politics. I don’t see any good coming from any of it. Japan’s corruption is no worse that many many other countries.

Thank you for being honest here. I hope that you’ll keep your habit, though…that is…the habit of writing often. It is definitely a tough habit to keep, but I think it’s very worth your time and energy, as you’ll have a wonderful record of your student life and times that you can look back at.

Perhaps this is where you feel you are now. Yeah…hesitant to be an adult, not wanting to give up on youth…

I am jealous of you. My mother has expressed great regret that she did not give ALL her children piano lessons. Our daughter will get lessons, and we hope that she won’t quit at an early age. I understand your wanting to quit, though. Just like any habit, it is hard to maintain for a long time.

Yoko, Great job here. You’ve written a lot, and you certainly covered a wide variety of topics to some depth. I hope that you’ll work over the span of a few weeks going in depth with some of these topics, perhaps even using some of the material for one of your essays? It’s up to you.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masako
My commute to Nanzan is very flexible. These days, I’m trying to bicycle as often as possible. If I can’t bicycle, like when it rains, then I do the subway to Motoyama and bus up past Nagoya University. Did you know that in the B3 of the building with my office there is a very large parking lot? It can hold at least 50 cars, but it is always empty. WHY? I have no idea.

Isn’t it sad to see the great crafts of Japan dying out to modern times? They become more expensive to make, and so sell fewer, and so the craftspeople don’t pass down their knowledge. This is happening all over the world, I’m afraid, but there is really nothing we can do about this.

If you visit me in my office, I’ll tell you some stories of when I lived in Kenya. I would spend HOURS looking at the heavens. It was one of the most incredible experiences I can ever remember. There are very few places on Earth left where you can do this without light pollution. This is one thing I really dislike about living in Nagoya. The light pollution here is the worst of anywhere I know and I’m sad for my daughter, who cannot imagine what the beautiful night looks like.

Actually, I think the most ideal form of exchange is where you can speak Japanese, and I can understand you and respond in English and you can understand and respond in Japanese and so forth.

Masako, You’ve done a good job here. I have a sense you are getting LESS prolific as you write. I hope to see the trend go the other way, where you become MORE prolific.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masao
Welcome to the American dream, Masao. These ‘infomercials’ as they are called, are made for those popcorn eating, coke drinking, low-self esteem folks who stay up very late at night with nothing better to do than watch the things. They sell a lot of junk in the U.S. like this these days. It’s a bit sad, really, isn’t it?

I find this hard to believe. When you respect someone, it gives you a purpose in life. You want to emulate, to some extent, that person you respect. I don’t know, maybe I am too much of a dreamer with this belief, but I believe it nonetheless.

I had a talk with my sister recently. She turned 40 not too long ago, has been married about 15 years, and has two kids and a pretty good job as a legal secretary in San Francisco. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” she said to me. Go figure.
Ha ha! Such great wisdom! But you know what? This isn’t true only for kids. It’s true for adults, too. It just never stops. Well, anyway, this is another thing that keeps us going and gives us purpose in our lives.

Masao, I’m a bit surprised. I guess I expect you to be a prolific and thoughtful writer, but I feel as if you are not making the efforts to at least try. You are merely going through the motions. I wonder if you might try to pursue a single topic for two or three weeks, letting your thoughts simmer for awhile before continuing on. I have this hunch that deep down, you can do it.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Shoko
So, which order were you hoping to have the children, or is that not important. I wonder why you think about this at such an early age. Do you talk to your friends about these topics, too? Is everyone worried about the type of parents they will become?

Oh, I don’t know if you told me this before…that you were from Hakodate. My wife is also from there. We visited there in July/August. What a great town, I really liked it and would like a chance to live there. Well, I doubt I’ll be able to anyway. Actually, I hate winter and I understand it has already snowed there. My wife wants to know which Primary, Junior High and High Schools you went to. Please email me if you get the time.
I worked for my grandfather’s construction company. It was similar to your factory job. Hard work, long hours, kind of boring at times, but I was very happy to get money at the end. I guess it built up my character too.

I’m always surprised that Japanese university students don’t share apartment rooms, like we do in the U.S. It’s so common there and so very rare here. In fact, I don’t know anyone here who does that. Why not? Can you explain this to me?

Shoko, Thanks for taking the time to keep your journal entries. You’ve covered a lot of ground here and I look forward to future installments.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Daisuke
Well, you aren’t wasting time. If you think that, then EVERYTHING is a waste of time. I don’t think this is a healthy attitude. Why? Because I felt the same way at one point in life. Then I realized that it was ME who was wasting the time, not the things other people did, including teachers and their assignments. It took me awhile, but I understood that I had plenty of opportunities in life, and that I had control of where I was going. This was an important understanding that really turned around my life. I hope you get this understanding too, someday soon!

It sounds like the swimmer was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The old woman perhaps had been struggling out on the water for a few days when he passed by, and then held onto him for life, with dire consequences for both. Hmmmm.

Daisuke, I think I’ve mentioned that you can go into depth with some things. I hope to see more of this next time.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Takuya
Luck! HA HA! I think you are right. No matter how much you know, there is still so much that you don’t know, so that betting on horses is never a sure thing. I went to the track in Hakodate this summer, and I was lucky enough to win about 10,000 yen. I was happy that I didn’t lose anything more than that I won something.
Gambling. I love it, but I try to avoid doing it whenever I can. I even went to Las Vegas once, but with a good friend who got me away from the city very quickly. I started putting money in the slot machines. Ooh!

UGH! This class is the most difficult for me. I’m always behind on reading marking. There are too many students and I can’t do as good a job as I would like. In addition to all my other classes. I never worked this hard as a student. NEVER.

Better to buy a lot of happy. Happy, however, comes in different forms for different people, but I think it’s actually very tough to buy.

Takuya, if you’d like me to teach you how to bet at poker, ask. I learned from a professional when I was 14 years old. Now THAT was real gambling. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to read about your gambling (and other) experiences and I look forward to more next time.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Michiko
40 days? It will go by very fast. You’ll miss Japanese food first, and you’ll miss your family, but you will adjust and have a great time. 40 days is very short. It will seem like a week when it’s over. It will also be an unforgettable experience.

Well, think about what you like to do. Think about what you spend most of your time doing and pursue that as a profession.

Michiko, you have got to try to discipline yourself more to write more. There is so little here I can comment on.
Your grade for this check: C

Student name: Kyoko
I have mixed feelings about this. The fact is: most cultures are dying out as we move toward one mass culture. At the same time, no culture can be completely dead if even one of it’s people is alive. Well, anyway, it is sad that this is happening. I’ve seen a lot of it in the world. At the same time, dead cultures and languages can and have been revived, so there is hope yet.

When will we grow out of prejudices like these you report? I don’t know if it is possible. But then again, today I read in the newspaper about the South African truth commission. Here is a country that is healing the wounds of a terrible war and a terrible century of division and hatred. The article also gave me hope that we can grow out of prejudices, but that it’s not an easy road.

Men must be beasts? Of course we are. Does this surprise you? HA HA!

Don’t EVER lose your friends. For me, they are more important than family. They give me perspective on my life; they give me support through hard times; they give me encouragement and love…I have a lot of very special friends that I am so thankful for.
Sure. All the time. I don’t think there is any other job quite like teaching. I just wish it paid more. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (Typical American Joke).

Well, it’s a nice sentiment anyway, but unfortunately, there is still a lot of inequality in the world. What will you, as a Japanese woman, do to fight your lower status in this society? Or do you believe that you don’t have lower status?

Kyoko, What can I say? You are a consistent writer, you are thoughtful and your ideas are well-developed. I look forward to more of the same.
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Kaori
I’m glad to see that you have learned about Billie Holiday. Her life was tragic. I really love her music and her voice. In fact, these days, I don’t listen to Rock as much as Jazz. My musical tastes have changed and the music has become more important than the words.
I am familiar with her, though I admit that I have not read her work. I have studied the French poets of the late 19th century, called the Symbolists, but Sagan came well after them.

It sounds like in either case, you have an open relationship with your mother and that is important. You are lucky that you can discuss such issues in a rational way, and also that you try to see each others’ point of view. Might I suggest that you also try to see additional points of view, for example, a boyfriend’s view of the situation. Friends of your boyfriend, friends of yours, friends of your mother. Considering many different points of view is definitely advantageous.

It’s difficult to give advice for this. LL is made to be very difficult, and it’s a very high pressure test. It helps if you can learn to eliminate some of the test answers, reading ahead in the test if you can, and not second guessing your hunches.

My last grandparent died when I was in Kenya, so I didn’t see her. The last time I saw her, her mind was going. I kind of regret not being able to say the sentiment you express here. Yes, we are lucky to have grandparents that love us and spoil us. I look forward to being a spoiling grandparent myself!

Yes, teaching is something that exhausts me, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I think it’s a great profession, that is very difficult to do well. I still have so much to learn about how to do better. Any suggestions for me?

Kaori, You’ve done a great job here and I’m very happy with your work to date. Keep up the good work!
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Saeko
I had the experience of having to slaughter a chicken to eat. I had to cross its legs and wings, and take a knife to kill it, by cutting off its head. I can’t forget the experience. I felt sick and of course, couldn’t eat the chicken. I think if we all had to do this, there would be far more vegetarians on the earth. Of course, I still eat meat and chicken now. Hmmm. I agree however, with you, that experiences like these, though unpleasant, are necessary for us to appreciate life.

Prejudice. This is a very hard topic to tackle. It exists everywhere at all times. I feel it a lot in Japan, but I mostly ignore it if I can, and try to understand what causes the behavior. I’m even teaching a course here about it.

It’s interesting because the type of drama which you describe is very common in the world. Families torn apart by war, spending their lives living in different worlds and even some speaking different languages. What a tradegy. I can’t give you advice here. I wouldn’t know what I would do in the same situation.

I’ll have to disagree with your attitude. Of course you can’t do anything by yourself, so that is why you have to join together with others in order to promote change in your OWN society first. So, in Japan, what societies can you join that will actively address this problem and offer solutions?

Well, now, here is a difficult topic, too. I have read stories of sacrifice and selfishness. I’ve read very wonderful things and very terrible things. It’s all case-by-case.

So, I guess you might argue with those who call Japan a ‘safe’ country, as you’ve had an experience to prove otherwise. Anyway, it certainly is very frightening to have an experience like this. I’m sorry to read about your terrible experience.

Here is another myth about Japan: that all Japanese are the same. I’ve discovered an incredible variety of food, language (dialect), accent, manners and behavior in my travels around Japan. Cultural differences are very clear even inside Japan. YES!

Perhaps you’d like to become a hardened woman? I recently found a very interesting website. It’s made for American women who have no guilt about how strong they want to be. Even the title of the website ‘Heartless Bitches’ is a strong name. Take a look at http://www.heartless-bitches.com. I laughed at a lot of their stories, especially about men who bother them so much.

Saeko, You are a very serious writer, and you write a lot. More than most others. I’m happy about this of course, as I believe those who write a lot will more than likely be better writers. SO…
Your grade for this check: A+