There is a regularly published booklet that includes pieces written by a number of the JETs as well as some of the teachers. I was asked to write something for it last week, so I sought to try and figure something out. I had to scrap a few ideas before I went ahead with this one. No humor though.
Home Sweet Home
Home is a lot of things to different people. When considering home, and what really qualifies something of that label, it’s clear that ‘’current residence’’ falls a bit short in giving appropriate meaning to the word. For a place to be a home, it must give in unending excess to its inhabitants. On a daily basis, one needs not only to be capable of drawing enjoyment from their surroundings but also a furthered sense of empowerment as well.
When a student at Hope College, I experienced both; thus putting me right at home. The people around me, the great experiences a plenty from which to extract life shaping values, were all mine for the taking. Not only that, but I felt significant in my own shoes. As much as I enjoyed that time of my life, it came to an end, leaving me ‘homeless’ living in my basement until the next opportunity came around.
Obviously, that next opportunity is my involvement in the JET program. I was initially tentative, deterring my committing wholly to going, but those feelings subsided in due time. As my departure drew near, it was clear that Japan held a bright future and my participation appeared to be the correct choice. Though I was floundering a bit, being at a total loss as to what my experiences would yield, I could only hope to find something as great as what I left.
After a few days of orientating in Tokyo, it was off to see what was in store for me on this island they called Shikoku. It was quickly apparent that I was living somewhere far from anything I had experienced or even imagined. Nestled right into the Sanuki Range was the town of Shionoe, a place I knew nothing about. From the plane window, it was immediately evident that my surroundings were vastly different from the West Michigan area I knew or even the Tokyo metropolis with which I was familiar. This was truly going to be something new.
After a few days of life in Shionoe I was extremely pleased with my remote location and the potential it held for me. Though, surely that was just the Honeymoon stage, with reality yet to permeate my oft thick head? Now, already three months into this adventure I can still take the same stance, this ‘Honeymoon’ has only gotten better.
Shionoe is a place where I wake up and marvel at the scenery from the moment I step out of my house every day. Whether the perfect blue skies contrasted with the lushness of the peaks or the matte clouds obscuring them, there is always something to capture my eye.
Adding to this effect are also the people comprising this town as well. I genuinely enjoy [trying to] talk with as many of the people as possible, making such things as buying gas and dinner a pleasure. With kindness abound, I can wake up knowing that every day will be a pleasant one.
The hodgepodge of blessings that Shionoe has tossed at me leaves me with no doubt that this is the next stage in my life. Living here is empowering, in that it helps to fuel my push toward self betterment. If there ever was a place that would foster different types of growth, this is it. Because of the uniqueness of this place in my life thus far, and also the observations preciously noted, I can confidently call Shionoe my home. Not just because Shionoe is an amazing place I happen to be, but rather that it is an amazing place I want to be.
For those who aren’t feeling ‘at home’ quite yet, rest assured as it takes longer for some, and for others may require a bit of effort. Though the length of time spent in this home of mine remains uncertain, my confidence dictates that whenever and wherever life takes me, a new one is only waiting to be found.