Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Captain's Log: 3000.6 (part the1)

First-time posting proves especially daunting because for the past year I wrote nothing more than three sentences in any single flourish. And even then, those sentences (if they may be generously identified as such) often amounted to just "LOL". I write this journal largely to: record my impressions leading up to and living/working in Japan; further inundate the interwebz with its already many Japanese expat blogs; and do some much needed cerebral calisthenics.

I'm Jed. Interac Co.,Ltd. recently hired me as an Assistant Language Teacher (alt) in Japan. The hiring/placement process up until now happened something like this:

Late September-ish 2010. completed online application on Among other things, the online application asks prospective applicants to write two 500 word max (or min, I do not remember <---unreliable narrator) essays explaining reasons for wanting to teach in Japan and expectations of the Japanese teaching environment. With winning application in tow, the applicant sets up an appointment for a phone interview with an Interac recruiter. The phone interview apparently screens out most applicants, at least that's what a recruiter mentioned. The phone interviewer confirms with the applicant their personal information and location preferences but more importantly scrutinizes the applicant's demeanor and *excitement* over the phone. My own phone interview concluded with my interviewer highlighting my gusto/genki/joie de vivre as "what they look for". Sometime later, Interac sends an email to the successfully screened applicant asking for documentation like college diploma copies, criminal background checks, etc. and sends another email confirming the information session date/location. I remember my information session dated October 16th at San Francisco (by and by, I HATE SAN FRANCISCO--actually well, as of late, not so much hate but begrudgingly admire).

Early October 2010. Some stuff happened. I remember going to my local police station for a criminal background check. I also remember mailing sensitive documents to Interac. Otherwise, up until October 16th, I have totally forgotten everything.Oh wait, Interac sends a pretty weighty email containing session information, tips about the applicant's personal presentation, and a general primer on alt life.

October 16th 2010. The information session occurred. Yesterday afternoon, ye olde parental unit and I drove down to San Francisco. That morning, when meeting the other applicants, I felt a perverse sort of pride being one of the out-of-towners (I experienced that same perverse pride at an AEON session the year previous). The pride proves perverse because only a special sort of stupid feels smug about upchuck traveling out of state, spending several hundred dollars, and emotionally/mentally wearing themselves out for a *chance* at a job. <---someone like say...THIS GUY. Anyway, the session conveniently divides into three parts. The first part involves an icebreaker and reviews the primer of alt life in Japan.The second and probably more *infamous* part is the personal presentation where applicants playact teaching one of three standard English lessons in front of a camera. The three lesson types were: directions around town, identifying common objects, and someotherthirdthingican'trecallforthelifeofme. I picked the directions lesson and incorporated Harry Belafonte's Day-O, culture heroes Abraham Lincoln and Lady Gaga, and the fires of Mordor into my overall lesson plan.The personal presentation also involves a personal introduction, short-script reading, and warm-up activity. The whole presentation must last for 6 minutes and not more. Oh, the camera does not stop: so applicants strive for fluidity. I remember awkwardly grinning and walking away during my presentation to grab a prop on my seat. OH! I also remember totally forgetting the refrain to the Day-O song and just saying banana, banana, banana, over and over again. I looked at the Interac recruiter then, hitherto clapping along and smiling, looking like she just sucked a lemon. I would like to think I recovered because of my winning charm and indelible impressiveness; but more likely, I imagine prompts like "Mina-san, how can Gaga-san and Lincoln-san get to the Fires of Mordor from the gym?" saved me. Just maybe.

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