Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Package from Matsumoto-sensei!

Truly there is nothing better than finding a surprise in your mailbox after a day at the office. Yesterday this happened to me. I came home to find an attempted delivery notice in my mailbox, and in the box labeled "Sender" was the name MATSUMOTO!!

Chiyoko Matsumoto was my Japanese teacher and worked as a volunteer through the Urayasu-shi Community Center. For 1000 yen (less than $10) I signed up for a year of Japanese classes one on one with this wonderful lady.

Beginning in July, every Thursday evening I would get on my bicycle and ride the 4 or 5 miles to the center and have a 2 hour class. When I say this was a grueling 2 hours I mean it. It is said that your ability to learn a foreign languages begins to decline at age 14. In high school I had a real talent for languages and was close to fluent in French and had 3 years of German on top of that. Japanese? A piece of cake I thought. Not.

I purchased the Pimsleur Japanese I CD series when I returned last March and had learned what I thought was quite a bit by that method, enough that I could "pass the time of day" at a bus stop. Unfortunately the Japanese don't "pass the time of day" with strangers, especially not foreign strangers! In our first meeting Matsumoto-sensei made me begin to learn the first of 3 Japanese alphabets. By the time of our last class in late November I had learned 2 of the alphabets and could read from my text. SLOWLY. She had the patience of a saint and even took the time to make up a set of hiragana/katakana flashcards for me. I carry them with me every day and they have almost become a security blanket, a token from a wonderful lady who took the time to teach this big loud blonde American.

At any rate I picked up the package on my way to work this morning. We exchanged cards at the holidays and a couple of weeks ago I decided to write her. In return, in this package was a 4 page letter, written in Japanese but (thankfully) translated into English, several prints of landscapes painted by her husband, and a cellophane envelope containing a cutting from the lillies of the valley from her yard! She has promised to try to locate and send to me the audio tape that accompanies the textbook we used and has requested that I send photos of my cats and house.

I have no idea if Matsumoto-sensei has a computer and internet access and I don't want to. To be corresponding with my dear teacher this way is a joy. I don't believe she can ever know how much this meant to me and how it brightened my day.

1 comment:

SUSANNAH said...