Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why I accepted this job

I'm growing more familiar with 4 of the 5 W's (and 1 H) of Journalism. After mentioning that I'm going to teach English in Japan, I usually get something along the lines of "You're going to teach English in Japan? Wait...what? When? How? Where? Why?". It's not always in that order but they're typically asked at some point. And I can see why: I'm a Nigerian/Texan IT and SW professional living in San Francisco and this is a 180 degree turn from the last 4 years of my life.

Nope, I'm not kidding. I'm moving to Japan.

I'm starting on Monday, April 5th, 2009.

I'm going through Interac, an organization that places native English speakers in schools throughout Japan

No idea, but I'm open to anything. Tokyo? That'd be nice but probably not...they usually reserve spots in Tokyo for people who can do more than say "Hello" in Japanese. And I can't even do that correctly.

This one is trickier because it doesn't warrant a simple response. It's the culmination of a few things: personal interest, professional development and the economy.

I've been interested in Japan since Jr. High School and have been actively trying to visit since 2005. Like many, I got my first taste of the country by watching Anime (specifically, it was Vampire Hunter D, Ranma 1/2 and Akira) but grew increasingly fascinated over time. From their innovation (e.g., the World's first bullet train) to their culture (e.g., the high work ethic, ridiculously low crime rate) to their unique and inventive products, news of Nippon gradually moved it to the top of my list of countries to visit.

Professionally, it's inadvertently beneficial. I have a B.S. in Computer Engineering and have been working full time since 2005. This move is not directly related to my career path, it's a cut in pay and I could easily get technologically rusty during my stint away from the Bay. That said, it will also give me international exposure, help me learn Japanese, provide a leadership opportunity and most importantly, be challenging. I have no illusions: this won't be a walk in the park. If it was, it wouldn't be as appealing.

But it was the economy that really put the wheels in motion: I made this decision after becoming economic collateral damage even though there were other options available. On one hand, I could join another exciting startup in Silicon Valley but that would mean gambling with job security at a volatile time in an already risky work environment. On the other hand, there are still many stable IT jobs, despite the recession, but that could mean working in a less stimulating environment.

In addition to those 3 elements, this gig also helps me reach a dream: becoming a teacher. The disparity between honor and regular classes--both of which I took--back in high school highlighted how vital a good teacher was to student success. I graduated from an athletics-focused school and felt that students weren't always motivated to want more because they were stuck learning from teachers who resembled Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I responded by promising myself I'd become a teacher one day so that I could do for my students what those teacher's didn't. This job affords me that opportunity.

To be fair, I wasn't 100% sure of teaching English in Japan when the thought first crossed my mind. But the more I looked into it the more it felt right. Not only do I get to travel, achieve a dream and develop, I also get paid for it! I'm looking forward to becoming both a student and a teacher. It's going to be quite an adventure.


  1. you will be an excellent teacher! I wish i were in your class. You could probably teach me a thing or 2 about this language we call English

  2. wow, that is so amazing! should be a great time. i'll be sure it visit if i come to japan. good thing is, even though you'll be out of the "techy" loop directly, you're still in Japan, a big tech place as it is. i've always wanted to live in another country. i'm thinking England. british people seem happier, and I want to know why!

  3. How cute ... you're espousing Journalism basics :)

    I expect postcards or IMs regularly twin.

  4. Awesome post. I am glad to see what you are up to, and what changes are happening in your life. Adventure sounds very enticing. Keep in touch man!