As you may have already heard, I’ve really been on the fence about whether or not to renew my contract with the company. I’ve flip-flopped back and forth, unable to fully commit to what my next year with entail. If I renew, I could stay in Japan for another year, and continue teaching English in the über quiet fishing village of Shakotan, living in fairly isolated Bikuni town. If I decline, could come back to Seattle and get started on the next phase of my life, most likely involving going back to school so that I can become a teacher in the US. More pressingly, now that my beloved Marissa is back in the States, I have new motivation to return. I’ve spent many homesick nights dreaming of everything and everyone I miss in Seattle, and now that my girlfriend has returned, the longing has increased exponentially.
Japan is a fantastic place, a Rising Sun Neverland filled intriguing customs and kindhearted people. (Kindhearted, unbelievably generous, genuinely wonderful people, actually.) The friends I’ve made here have become very important to me, and I’ll need to keep in touch with them after I return to the States. In my first year Japan, I’ve been able to accomplish many of my goals for my journey, and I’ve have countless surprising experiences that I didn’t even expect. It’s been one hell of a ride.
But the fact of the matter is, I have not yet done everything that I set out to do. If I were to leave Japan now, I would surely look back on it with a regretful, incomplete feeling. I’d wonder what could have been, if only Shakotan had had one more year with their first ALT; their first ever foreigner resident. After how welcoming and accommodating this community has been to me, I owe it to them to give it my all. When the next school year begins, I can hit the ground running, already well acquainted with the students, the teachers, and the Board of Education, not to mention other individuals in the community. A new ALT would need some time to adjust to this place, but I know it well, and I’m ready to kick some ass…speaking purely academically, of course.
Even though it has been an impossibly difficult decision, one that I’ve lost plenty of sleep over, I have finally made up my mind. The kids need me. Shakotan needs me. My homestay-esque family in Sapporo even kind of needs me. Oh, and the company needs me to a certain extant. Maintaining a sense of purpose in Seattle would probably be a bit difficult for me at the moment, but it’s strong here in Hokkaido. I know what I need to do.
And so, the journey continues…