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                                An Interview with Sarah Mitchell, ALT in Kanoya

Sarah Chieko Mitchell,
Assistant Language Teacher
in Kanoya City

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The international residents of Kanoya City: you often see them around, but have you ever stopped for a chat with them?

Maybe youfve heard a few things about them, maybe even a few rumours about them.

 Here they will tell you about themselves in their own words, so if youfre interested in what they have to say, stop for a chat next time you see them!


First of all could you please tell us your name, what part of the world youfre from, and which schools you teach at in Kanoya.
Ifm from a town called Exeter in California, USA, and I teach at Kanoya Joshiko High School, Hosoyamada Junior High, Hosoyamada Elementary, Nishihara Elementary, Nishiharadai Elementary, Tasaki Elementary, and Minami Elementary.
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What brought you to Japan?
 I love traveling and learning about different countries and cultures. My grandmother was Japanese, so Ifve always been interested in living in Japan and experiencing my familyfs culture and heritage.


What do you like to do in your free time?
I love being active, traveling and exploring the outdoors. During the spring and summer I like snorkeling, swimming, camping, hiking and biking. I also like playing volleyball, watching movies, reading, and going to concerts.


What do you think is the best thing about living in Kanoya?
I love the tranquility of the countryside and all of the outdoor activities in Osumi. Osumi has great beaches for snorkeling and swimming and beautiful mountains for hiking and camping.


What do you think is the least appealing aspect of living in Kanoya?
Kanoya is a little too rural and isolated for me. I would like a train station or highway that connected Kanoya to the rest of Kyushu so travel would be easier.


What are your favourite spots, shops and restaurants in Kanoya?
I like Bulldog for its unique gifts, Avail for clothes shopping, Araheam for coffee, and the Penang Garden in Kirishimagaoka Park for the view of Kaimon-dake and Kinko Bay!


When you came to Kanoya over a year ago, was it your first time in Japan? If no, when had you been in Japan before? Was there anything that surprised you about life in Japan?
Nomihodai. Itfs difficult to just go out for one beer. Itfs 20 beers or nothing!


Is there anything about life in Japan that youfve found hard to get used to?
Hands down: the cold. Keeping my apartment warmer than the outside temps in winter is a constant challenge.


Have you ever lived overseas before?
IYes, I lived in Seoul, Korea for one year.

What do you miss most about the U.S.?
I mostly miss my friends and family, but Mexican food is a close second!
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What do you think are some of the most striking cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan?
Japanese culture has a formality that is strikingly different from American culture. We tend to be much more casual in manners of meeting new people, work attire, ceremonies, etc.
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What could people in your country learn from the lifestyles of people in Japan, or the Japanese way of getting things done?
I think Americans could benefit from a Japanese sense of unity and shared social responsibility. For example, during cleaning time at school, all students and teachers work together to clean their school. It instills a sense of pride in onefs school and motivation to keep things clean.
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In the same way, what could people in Japan learn from the lifestyles and ways of doing things in the U.S.?
I think Americans value innovation and focus on efficiency, whereas Japanese tend to stick to tried-and-true albeit outdated methods. I still receive manual faxes from my schools when email would be so much more efficient and facilitate better communication!
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Could you please tell us a little about something youfve taken up since you came to Kanoya?
Ifve taken up a little bit of travel writing on my blog and like to write about my adventures here in Japan and sightseeing in and around Kanoya. Ifve also become interested in Japanese calligraphy and continue to practice on my own.
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Are there any particular parts of Japanese culture that youfd like to learn more about during your time in Kanoya?
Ifd like to learn to play koto before I leave Japan. Any willing teachers out there!
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Almost done now! Could you please tell us something about yourself that the people of Kanoya might not know about you?
I like gardening and pickle my own cucumbers, American style.


And finally, is there anything you would like to say to the people of Kanoya, any words of inspiration or a maxim to live by?
gLive, travel, adventure, bless, and donft be sorry.h – Jack Kerouac


 From David:

 Ifm so glad we have an ALT like Sarah here in Kanoya, shefs got a lot of energy and is always up for an adventure. I was surprised to learn that she lived in Korea as well, Ifm thinking of going to Korea sometime soon as well so Ifll be sure to ask her for all the recommended spots to visit! If you see Sarah out and about in the streets, beaches or even mountains, be sure to stop her for some interesting conversation! Thanks very much Sarah!
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Civic Activity Promotion Division, Kanoya City Hall
20-1 Kyoei-cho Kanoya City, Kagoshima Prefecture JAPAN 893-8501
TEL : 0994-43-2111 (Ext. 3394j@FAX : 0994-42-2001
EMAIL : info@kiea.ne.jp
Skype : kiea1997
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