様々な分野でグローバルに活躍する「普通の人々」が体験を語り、次世代の普通の人々のお役に立てればと思っているサイトです。

日本在住歴約40年のRon McFarlandと外資系勤務が長い齋藤信幸が、それぞれの海外体験を語ります。

Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.3 アジアへの視線

2019-12-01 00:14:13 | Ron's Life Story
Ronさんの同居人たち、そしてアジアへの視線

Then there was Peng. He was a Chinese national that grew up mostly in Taiwan. His father was a high officer in the Chinese army on the mainland. His mother was an American of Chinese decent. She had a PhD in Literature and met her husband in China. When the fighting started, she took young Peng and went to Taiwan where she taught at a major university. Peng was a good 7-10 years older than us and held many degrees in electrical engineering and hydraulics from universities back east. For us though, he was our Chinese food chef. As a boy on Taiwan, as his mother was always busy with university activities and writing, Peng spend a lot of time with maids and cooks. That was where he learned to cook. We did a lot of chopping and cooking together. Also, on Sundays, we used to drive up to China Town in San Francisco, have Cantonese breakfast, purchase some Chinese specialty foods and spices and drive back home. He was my first introduction to the Asian world along with people from Hong Kong and Vietnam. In those days, my interest expanding on global experiences was in a discovery stage. That interest was also stimulated by the international business subjects I was studying.


Mike Houser, Dan Minkel and Kwang Peng, Roger Williams House

Also, there was Sam Fisk. He was a graduate from UC Berkeley and extremely smart. He was in San Jose in a Master’s program in Psychology. He later dropped the program and decided to transfer to San Francisco State University and pursue a Masters in mobility and orientation for the blind. I meet up again with him years later in Hawaii.

Another person in the R & W House was Tom Tang. He was from Hong Kong, and we were not that close, but one summer a friend of his studying in the UK came to visit. His name was Jimmy Chan, also originally from Hong Kong. He went away to a British boarding high school, and then continued on for university and graduated school in mathematics in London. Well, we became the best of friends from that first meeting in the R & W House and are still in contact today, 40 years later. He now makes his home outside of Toronto, Canada. I visited him in Canada several times over the years, as well as meeting in both Hong Kong and Japan.

Then, there was Ken Holden’s. He was the #1 drug user in the R & W House and majored in Art. As a matter of fact, his class twice hired me as a nude model! I sat nude for an hour and was paid extremely well.

I learned many things living in the Roger Williams House through the other occupants, but something also sticks out among all others. We all had our problems of one sort or another, and we learned to care and accept each other as we were. That is something most of us did not get in our respective homes. We in a sense became a family.

As the Vietnam War was still raging, we were all susceptible to go to fight. Then, came the US Army Enlistment Lottery, which was the newest selection method for drafting men to enter the US Army, be training as solders and sent off to Vietnam to fight. In the system, there were 365 numbers, one number for every day of the year. The higher the number, the less likely you would be called up to go into the military.

Well, I got 108, a number sure to be drafted. That was a real blow, as I hated fighting and hated even the smallest of guns. So, I joined whatever military reserve unit I could get into for six years. I felt that would be much better than two years in the active Army and a chance of being killed.

Anyway, I found an Army Reserve training unit right in San Jose. I signed up for whatever specialty they had available, and there was only one assignment open to me, drill sergeant! So, I could peacefully, carry on with my studies, do my security guard job and go to my monthly US Army Reserve meetings without being killed.

Then, disaster struck. One day, I came in late from my security job at the refrigeration plant to be surrounded by policemen and a lot of sad, crying faces. I think it was Bill Minkel, another roomer who gave me the bad news. Bill Minkel, Ken Holden, David Koppel and several others in the house were also from Mountain View. On weekends, Ken Holden would hitchhike home to be with his family. Well, evidently a murderer picked him up and was brutally killed. His body was found in the mountains in the area. That was my last semester just before graduation, and I was going through final tests at the time.

The atmosphere in the Roger Williams house would never be the same. David Pool, another person in the house had an old camper, and we just wanted to get away. So, about 5-6 of us took off for Mexico. That was in February 1972.

Going to Mexico was my first experience outside of the United States, and I had a close feeling for the country growing up in California where many people originally from Mexico lived, like our neighbors the Osegueda’s. We drove down the Pacific Coast and finally stopped just past Mazatlan, Mexico. I think the last city we stayed in was San Blas, Mexico. We loved not only the warm weather but the people as well. Also, I was very surprised to see children playing outside very late at night. In spite of it being a poor country with hustlers, prostitutes and poor sanitation, the people seemed safe, even the women and children at all hours of the night. That was a first for me.

After I graduated from San Jose State, I moved out of the R & W House to a similar place with improved conditions. Peng also came along and took a room in the same place. That is when I first started to study Japanese (1973). In spite of him being Chinese, Peng was a great encouragement to me in those early years struggling with the language. He was not the first person that gave me great support.

Living with those people of very different backgrounds and nationalities and going to Mexico got me thinking about what I should do with my life. I had a feeling that the international community would have something to do with it.

多民族国家、モザイク国家といわれる米国では、幼少期から学生時代の多感な時期に、異文化と触れる多くの機会があることが分かりますね。

日本にも外国人観光客が増加しているばかりでなく、職場や日常生活で訪れる飲食店やコンビニなどでも外国人と触れる機会が増えています。

ちょっとした外国人との交流をとおして、異文化理解を深めたいものです。

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