I had moved so much growing up that there were many things I didn’t understand because I hadn’t had a chance to stay and make many friends. Some places we lived, I never made friends. I was very shy. By the time I made it to Japan, I had been in Oklahoma for a few years, and I was trying hard to figure things out. When I got to Japan, I was studying Cross Cultural Communications, and I realized that I was being taught about how to get along in Japan and really didn’t know how to get along in America because I had never been given much of a chance, and I was so shy. Americans confused me in many ways. However, as I was learning about Japan, I was slowly learning about America too.
An event happened that caused me to learn about Japanese people and about Americans at the same time. One of my Japanese friends had a problem. In Japan, if someone has a problem with you, they don’t confront you. They try to go around you to solve the problem. There was an American girl driving the Japanese girl crazy. She was following her everywhere, and the Japanese girl wanted to be alone. When she got home from school, the American girl had figured out where she lived and she would just let herself into her house and wait until the Japanese girl got home. The Japanese girl felt stalked, but that is before everyone put a name to that kind of behavior.
The Japanese girl didn’t confront the American girl. She thought it out. She decided that since she and I were such good friends and she felt comfortable talking to me and the girl was part of the group of American students that was bothering her that she would talk to me and ask me to solve her problem. She pulled me aside one day and asked me to talk to the American girl for her and tell her to stop letting herself into her house while she was gone and following her around. I understood her problem, but I really didn’t know what to do. She was approaching the problem the Japanese way. Perhaps she wanted me to talk directly to the girl, but I knew that the girl would feel bad if I told her what the Japanese girl told me. I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to help the Japanese girl. As I said, I wasn’t very socially adept and didn’t know what to do about a lot of social problems.
I thought the problem out. I needed help, but who could help me? Someone who knew the American girl better than I did needed to talk to the American girl, not me. I barely knew the American girl, but I knew her room mate better than I knew her. I didn’t know how Americans should handle something like this at all. I approached the girl’s room mate thinking it could be the way to sold the problem. I would give her the problem since she was always talking to the girl, and either she could tell me what to say or tell the girl herself. The room mate seemed reasonable when I approached her, and I thought she was going to talk to the girl and fix the problem. I was very young and naive. I didn’t understand Americans at all.
After the talk I had with the girl’s room mate, all the American girls got mad at me! The room mate that I had talked to went around telling everyone that I was gossiping about her room mate. I thought gossiping was saying something bad about someone trying to hurt them. I didn’t think gossiping was trying to solve a problem and trying to protect people from being hurt. I am afraid I approached the problem in a Japanese way rather than an American way because it was given to me in a Japanese way. Even my room mate was convinced I had been gossiping who I respected a lot. My room mate told me off for gossiping. Telling people off was something I never did. It just wasn’t in my nature, but it is in the American nature when they think they are right. The problem got solved, but in the process, they all became convinced that I was the bad guy. The Japanese people really understood me better than the Americans, and I seemed to understand the Japanese people better. I had learned how Japanese solve their social problems as well as how Americans solve their social problems. Japanese go around the problem, and the Americans tackle it straight on, and often, they don’t care who gets hurt. I had been caught in the middle between Americans and Japanese.