I'm rather slow on the uptake sometimes, but this past Monday it finally dawned on me that, as 'international exchange staff' go, I don't exactly pass muster. This paroxysm of realisation was brought about by a call from some poor benighted sojourner lurking around the environs of Tottori Station, looking for a hairdresser who speaks English. These days, my wife mostly cuts my hair, and even when I did get it done professionally I never bothered to look for a place that used English. Thing is, I learnt Japanese so that I could be independent, not because I had any great desire to mingle with people.
It turns out, unfortunately, that 'exchange', effectively means talking. To people. About things.
The sad fact is that I don't like venturing into the world beyond my own garden, and if I didn't have to, I probably wouldn't. At least not with the frequency that I currently do. I'm not the best choice for those 'cultural exchange' things partly because it ends up expected that I reveal personal details about myself to a large group of people. There's also the matter that, in many cases--including the one I was just offered--the interaction is two-way and it's with primary school children. Since I've been in Japan longer than they have, anything they can teach me about 'Japanese culture' is probably not going to be new, unless by 'culture' they mean cultural detritus like manga and pop music.
So I would make a speech, but I would rather be home. It's going to be worse during the semester, if I'm teaching: I'll have to refuse all invitations to 'internationalise' during the weekend. Most likely, I won't even want to see friends during the weekend. I'll have been around people all week, and I'll need to recharge.
It's unfortunate, but since I've already spent half of my life apologising for my nature and trying to become something I'm not (such as less than 100% introverted), it's time to give it a rest for 2017.
In the meantime, the Emperor's Birthday and Christmas are coming up this week, so let me wish all my nonexistent readers a very merry set of holidays. (And on the off chance that someone does actually end up reading this: You can have a good time, too, whatever you're doing.)