Charity: Japan Style

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    As a result of the world-wide attention Nova has been getting, the conditions of out of work teachers and the Nova Union’s “Teach For Food” campaign, reports are coming from all over the country on how Japanese are responding to those in need among them. There are many reports of selfless outright generosity and compassion

    “I was taking a break from the office, I sat down on a bench and began reading my newspaper when a man unshaven and wearing tattered clothes came up to me and asked in broken English ‘you Nova?’ he then offered me the remains of what he had in his One Cup Sake. Needless to say I declined his offer.” Says an employee for a securities broker. I tried to explain to him I didn’t work for Nova but he wouldn’t take no for an answer, I ended up taking his cup and he staggered off.”

    Maybe a foreigner in the past did a good deed for this person and they just felt an obligation to pass it along. Others are reporting though that the compassion they receive from their hosts is not always 100% on the selfless scale.

    “I`m an ex-AT in Sendai. Things are getting grim here. The local pancake house is offering free pancakes for 20 minute lessons. You get 4 pancakes in return for chatting with a couple of voice room rejects….the only catch is you pay for maple syrup. Nice pancakes though….I smuggled in my own syrup!!!” Pancakes for lessons? Bring your own syrup? Seems sympathy is often a two way street. Take the case of a vegetable shop owner in Nagoya. “The owner of a vegetable store in Nagoya has come up with an idea to increase his customer base, feed and provide employment for unemployed teachers and rid himself of expired vegetables.

    “I heard of the state of some of these poor foreign teachers so I set up a table in the back of my store so customers can come in, buy my vegetables, and get English lessons. I give the old vegetables that are spoiled that I can’t sell, to the foreigner.” Enterprising to say the least. Some former teachers are reporting to be inundated with excess garden produce.

    “I had a neighbor who knows I used to work for Nova come over to my apartment one evening recently along with her teenage daughter. She unloaded an armload of Daikon radishes from her garden into my genkan then pushed her surly, gum snapping, daughter into my entrance way and demanded that I teach her. What could I do?”

    It seems the concept of “will teach for food” doesn’t translate into the Japanese psyche quite as expected. Maybe the first lesson on the meaning of the words compassion and charity, foreign concepts to say the least, should be included, at no extra charge.

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