Dreams do change don't they.
Written by Helen McNamara (ALT)

Dreams do change don't they.

16 years ago, 16 years old, sitting in my dreary classroom staring out at the green fields, muddy sheep and grey drizzly sky I remember vividly how much I hated that view. I didn't want to be living in this damp, dull place. A tropical island was my dream: palm trees, white sandy beaches and a sparkling turquoise sea. Views I knew I could never find in England, but I never dared to imagine that my idle dreams would or could come true…
Jump forward to 4 years ago, exciting news, me, my Japanese husband and newborn daughter were going to live in Okinawa! At last I'm going to live my dream - life on a tropical island! Though, as I soon discovered, dreams and reality are never quite the same.
Of course my tropical island paradise had the necessary palm trees, pearl white sandy beaches and a heart-stoppingly beautiful blue sea. But on the other hand -to my dismay- there were a surprisingly high number of rainy overcast days, the whole island was covered in ugly, flat roofed concrete buildings and to top this off we were also under seemingly constant threat of typhoons for the better part of the year. Most surprisingly for me was to discover that the native Okinawans hardly ever went to the beach and non-swimmers were common. It all just didn't quite fit in with my dream image. Despite this gap between dream and reality, my family and I spent 2 very happy years living on Okinawa. The warmth and hospitality of the Okinawan people and the sea that never failed to lift my spirits will always be with me.
Living on a tropical island was always my dream but coming to Japan never was. I'm ashamed now to say, but my main reason for coming was money. I planned to work here for a year then use my savings to travel around Asia or South America- places I really wanted to see. To be honest before I came here I was blissfully ignorant about Japan, for example I thought Japan was only one island, peopled by rich, kimono wearing, sushi eating sumo fans who all worked like robots. Well maybe the latter is true! During my first year I found lots of things I liked about Japan and though by now I'm on my 7th year here I'm still discovering new things about the country and it's people. For me some of the positive aspects of life here are the beautiful scenery, the fine weather, onsens, wonderful restaurants and food, kind and gentle people and a safe and very child friendly environment- and the beer's delicious too!
Living here has renewed my faith in human nature, coming from a highly individualistic society like Britain I grew up not being able to trust others easily and always feeling a need to be on my guard about other people's intentions. But living in the group orientated Japanese society has taught me to trust others and look for the best in people not the worst , so I think I can feel a sense of at ease here than I can't in my own country.
7 years on from my arrival in Japan I now often feel I am more Japanese than English. Now when I go back to Britain I feel culture shock. For example the first week or so everyone looks so strange , so many different shapes and sizes and colours. Even now when I look in the mirror I always get a shock - 'I am an alien!'. Another problem is I'm used to things being automatic so I often find myself standing helplessly in front of doors wondering why they're taking so long to open while onlookers stare!
After having been away from Britain for so long I can at last discern some of the positives about my own country, amazingly (for me) the rural scenery of Yorkshire that I once hated is now very dear to my heart. My dream these days is to take my family to Yorkshire and show my husband and children those green rolling fields, muddy sheep and heavy grey skies- they are completely beautiful. Dreams do change don't they.

 いかがでしたか、ヘレン先生の文章、特に最初の部分はまさに詩です。私は英語が不得手で、まだ完全には理解できていない部分もありますが、目を閉じて聞けば、情景が色鮮やかに伝わってきそうです。童話「青い鳥」を思い出しました。きっと、お子さん達に聞かせるお話だったのでしょう。原文の日本語版が「国府高校便り(KOKUFU NEWS)55号」に掲載されています。(2004/02/26)

学校案内へ 夢は変わるんですね Previous page