I am often asked about what started my interest in Japan. Well, like most things, my journey started with the first step. In this instance that was a chance meeting with an exchange student at high school during year 10. While at the beginning of the year he could speak very little English, by then end he could converse quite freely. His diligent and steady approach to learning English created a ping of embarrassment deep inside me. “He can speak English….why the hell can’t I speak Japanese…” And so it began.
I quickly changed schools to start in a pilot program at the Orange College of TAFE called “Pathways” that not only offered Japanese language (which my high school did not), it provided practical skill development which I was also interested in. Unfortunalty, while I graduated from the course with a Bar Operations certificate, Accounts Clerical certificate, First Aid certificate and a Tourism and Hospitality certificate (Grade 2), the language teacher who taught Japanese for the course managed to “assist” each and every student fail 2 unit z (basic) Japanese.
Basically, this resulted in a lower than expected TER and non-acceptance into the courses I had applied for. Shocked into action, I decided that the thing that kept me from university was Japanese, so I needed to go to Japan and learn how to speak it properly. While it is normally not possible to organise an exchange program in less than 6 months, within three I had arrived in Japan thanks to the Tamworth branch of the Lions Club.
I was sent to Sasebo on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. While there I attended both Japanese high school and primary school. My experience at both locations in con-junction with my experiences living with three different host families (all of which could not speak English) gave me the motivation I needed to develop. While I will not go into all of the experiences I had there, it is during this period that I developed foundational elements of Japanese language and culture that have pushed me along the path I am currently on.
Upon returning to Australia, I returned to my hospitality base by working for the Nikko Hotel Darling Harbor. There I developed my customer relation skills, and event management knowledge, while at certain times of the night, also playing the role as the only person on staff who could speak Japanese. After nearly a year there I found a position for greater pay and greater responsibility working for the Regent Hotel Sydney. I had decided at this point in my life that I was sold on the world of hospitality (which originally goes back to when I was on summer vacation, working at the Hyatt Hotel in Saipan.)
After a little over a year at the Regent, a family reunion was organised in Hawaii.