“If you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”
– Greg McKeown
This is my fifth year living and working in Japan. For the first four I worked for an American company which pimps out English teachers to schools all across Japan. Although the people that I reported to were American (or British), the people that I worked directly with were Japanese teachers and school administrators. Strange as it may seem, seeing these people everyday, didn’t mean that I had to work with them if I chose not to. In fact many of my meetings with the Japanese teachers to plan out classes, and discuss lesson schedules were against our company’s policy. Nevertheless I wanted to plant myself into my environment and make a good relationship with the people that I worked with on a day-to-day basis.
That ‘rebellion’ (along with a few other things) lead to me eventually leaving that company and working directly for the Board of Education in the city that I was stationed at. I’ve spent the last year working as a Japanese government employee, civil servant type guy. I work in schools, and also in the city hall office of the “Teachers Management Division.”
During my time here I’ve learned a lot about surviving as a foreigner in the Japanese workplace; what the expectations are, what the limitations are, and how to make the best positive impact on the workplace and your coworkers. Being on the fringe has also given me a great window into what it’s like to work as a (Japanese) teacher, or office worker in Japan. Both of which I’m glad that I will never have to do.