Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Unlikely Connection

A few months ago, I received a phone call while in my office at school. A gentleman introduced himself as Soichi (So-eech) Hayashi, and proceeded, in very energetic and deliberate English, to tell me that he was a Japanese journalist, living in Reno. A principal at one of Washoe County's elementary schools had recommended that he make an appointment to interview me. He said that he was interested in seeing my Elementary Opportunity School because he was interested in writing about individuals who were trying to solve the problems in our educational system.
I must admit, I am extremely hard of hearing, especially if it is a calm, quiet voice (yell and stomp, in a deep voice, I'll hear you loud and clear!), so I was trying very hard to HEAR what Soichi was telling me. After embarrassingly asking him to repeat himself several times, I began to understand what he was asking of me: He sees that the Japanese educational system is beginning to make many of the same mistakes that were made here; he is proactively investigating how we are fixing our mistakes in order to improve the quality of education HERE, in order to help his own country before things get too bad and he wanted to meet with me. OKAY! So, we set a time to meet.  He came to my school, asked me lots of questions about the kids, my assistant, my counselor, my boss, and most importantly, my philosophy on how to reach these kids. All the while, he wrote furiously in his little notebook.  We had some wonderful discussions on the importance of connecting with students and families, concentrating on the whole child, not just test scores.
The best thing about this first meeting was that I did a little interviewing myself.  I wanted to know all about this new person.  He's published several books and articles in Japan, that range from Japanese sports to looking at homeless problems here in the U.S. to covering Americans that have been given second chances to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others, one being George Foreman. He attended our very own University of Nevada, Reno and majored in journalism prior to all of this writing in Japan.  He is married and lives here in Reno with his wife, daughter and son. He was a professional boxer in Japan, and has worked with some of our communities most at-risk youth.
During our second meeting, Soichi told me that he would like to follow my career. He said he felt that I have the right passion and belief to make positive changes happen in our school systems and he wants to write about me to inspire educators in Japan. He completely humbled me.   We have met several times since then. Last week, he had just gotten back from spending six weeks in Japan; during his time there, he met with his editors and they have begun a new contract with him, giving him the go-ahead to follow ME! Ha!  Who'd have ever thought?  I am interested to see how this new and interesting connection continues to unfold . . . . .and I have also told Soichi that whatever he writes about me, I want translated, I'd hate to find out that he's writing me in as a goofy American teacher in a Japanese newspaper comic strip. lol    :0)  I'll keep you all posted.
Be well, Friends,

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