Kaori Ikenishi: About me? I’m from Japan, and I studied English in Toronto for one and a half years before coming to ELC.
KI: Actually, I didn’t see such a big difference. The Canadians are always talking about what a big difference there is, but I didn’t see it. For example, the Canadians say that their culture is like a mixed salad, and the United States is like a melting pot–this is what I learned from them–but I don’t notice a big difference.
KI: I think in Canada, for example, people call themselves “Chinese Canadian.” So they think the Chinese part is more important than the Canadian part. Being American seems more important here. Oh! And the spelling is different. I spell like a Canadian! (laughs). But, honestly, I don’t see any big differences between the US and Canada. Both are very diverse and welcoming.
KI: Nowadays, yes, especially in the big cities like Tokyo. I lived in Tokyo for five years, but I am originally from Kyoto. Really old city.
KI: Oh, yes, of course! We still have them. Some of them are hundreds of years old. History is very interesting to me. I always thought learning history and learning about different cultures was very similar, because basically studying the past is just like studying another culture.
KI: Yes, exactly!
KI: Hmmm! I studied about war times, the war age, but definitely I wouldn’t want to go back to then. I would like to go…oh, I don’t know. Anytime that has nice food! I would like to try anything that I haven’t tried before.
KI: Anything local, I love!
KI: Yes. It was too much. I was working thirteen hours a day, seven days a week.
KI: No, that’s a lot of work, but we definitely work long hours to please our clients. In Japan, it’s not so easy to say “no” to a client. If they want you to change something, you have to say, “YES,” and get the job done. I think it’s normal to work maybe nine hours a day.
KI: It depends on your industry. A lot of people work weekends in Japan.
KI: I think I’m going to marry my friend! He’s British but works here. Probably we will stay in Boston.
KI: Oh yes, of course! Thank you.
KI: I think you have to keep an open mind. In the beginning, I was so afraid of making mistakes. But I’ve learned, it’s okay to make a mistake. That’s how you learn.
KI: Yeah, I don’t mind speaking in a not-totally-American way. I’m not American.
KI: Yeah, I agree with that. Everybody should embrace their differences.
KI: Take advantage of this unique opportunity, of being in a new culture speaking a new language. Don’t be afraid. Talk to as many people as you can.