A Tribute to Foreign Teachers Living and Working In Japan

By Donnie | Articles

When I hear “foreign teacher” it always sounds like a bit of a misnomer to me. But I guess if you’re American, Australian, Welsh, British, or whatever nationality that’s not Japanese, you ARE a foreigner, gaikokujin, (gaijin for short) in Japan. It’s not always easy being a foreign teacher in Japan, but it’s rewarding. So whether you’re working for ECC, Gaba, Aeon, Public School as an ALT, Nova, Geos (they’re trying to work their way back) it doesn’t matter. I know each and every one of you has had some kind of struggle since you’ve been here and I commend you for it…trying hard day in and day. I know how hard it can be.

The cool thing about Tsukuba was that, for the most part, everyone was cool with each other. Of course people will have their differences, but by and large because everyone was kind of in the same boat, living in Japan away from their families and friends, foreign teachers quickly latched on to one another. During my time here at AEON I’ve gotten to meet and work with all kinds of great people:

Tony. What can I say? I know this may come out a bit weird, but I’m secure enough in my heterosexuality to say it. He’s a good looking dude that’s kind of like an AEON legend. I didn’t have to opportunity to work with him, but I’ve met and talked to him several times and he’s just a cool guy. I hope to do an interview with him very, very soon.

Perry. Umm. I don’t know a whole lot about him except he’s not the best at responding to emails 🙂 (sorry man, but it’s true). When I met him, though, he seemed nice enough.

That's Adam on the right.

Adam. He’s the guy I replaced at AEON and he showed me the ropes. Whenever I have pressing questions about dating, or life in Japan, etc. he’s a reliable dude that I can go.

Ben, the Hawaiian dude that was a virtuoso on a ukulele and guitar, and he had some good grappling skills, my throat still hurts, lol. He was interested in Ultimate Fighting and all of that, just like me. A master teacher. He really likes the movie Braveheart for some reason.

There’s Gareth, a teacher that came around the same time I did, who has a jaw-dropping set of piano skills and the creativity to make songs and jokes that keep you in stitches. I have a world of respect for Gareth, not because he has an amazingly high alcohol tolerance, but he’s a first class guy and a great friend.

Emiko. The first word that comes to mind is gorgeous, but outspoken, down to earth, and funny. I honestly didn’t hang out with her much during the last half of her stay, but she was always made work a funny, easygoing place to be.

Robby. A talented artist who was also like my young mentor here in Japan (wait a minute…he was hilarious, too…are you seeing a pattern here?). He’s the guy I would say I latched onto. We had similar, Christian upbringings, watched similar cartoons as kids, and he was just easy to get along with.

Devon. A good cook, and a person with a gazillion different interests. Really got into the whole yoga, health, and vegetarian thing while he was here. A good friend, but we kind of drifted apart a bit during the latter part of our stays. Not bad or anything, just a drift.

Karl. One of the newer AEON teachers, but it feels like he’s been here forever. EXTREMELY clever with an acute sense for puns, plays-on-words, and cheesy humor. Working with him is just downright fun.

If you’re a foreign teacher working in Japan, what was your experience like when you first got here? Was there a person you remember that you latched onto? Someone that showed you the ropes? If you care to share, I’d love to hear your stories. My comments sections is your soundboard. Please feel free to type away.

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  • Okay28

    I’m curious. How long do you intent on staying in Japan? I actually worked for Nova before things started to fall apart, lol. I lived near Fujisawa in Kanagawa prefecture. I LOVED the experience, and I participated in many activities, including martial arts classes. I was there from 2006 – 2007. I actually renewed my contract, but by then, it was clear that Nova wasn’t going to survive. So I left, mainly due to the uncertainty, and the fact that most of us were not being paid, and Nova had stopped paying our rent, so many of us were literally left homeless. Thank God I had friends to stay with. I came back to the states, finished grad school, yet I still have a desire to return.

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