Young and Innocent

19.07.2011 § Leave a comment

I took a Japanese course this summer at the Oakton Community College.  The teacher asked me why I wanted to learn Japanese.  I couldn’t really tell her why.  I wanted to do something crazy when I turned 50 but could not find anything crazy enough.  I think learning Japanese can qualify for my wish on my 50th birthday.  The student sitting next to me in the class is a video-game-loving 19 year old, younger than my younger son.  On the first day we all introduced ourselves.  The first girl sitting on my far right started and ended her introduction with her age of 21.  I assumed that was the formula, so I said my age as well. After the class, the teacher suggested I change the class to auditing.  She obviously was worried about me failing.

Since I was keen on practicing speaking, the teacher introduced me to a new volunteer tutor at the language lab on Monday.  He is a sociology major, completed his undergraduate in Japan, and has been learning English at DePaul University for a year and half.  We started to converse in Japanese.   He looked very young for his age so I complimented him on how youthful he looked; someone could mistaken him for a high school student.  Then I thought that maybe a young adolescent would want to look mature, as the mature woman wants to look young.  Fearing he misunderstood my good intention, I added that I hoped he took that as a compliment.  He smiled and did not say anything.  Either he did not understand my stuttering Japanese or did not want to show his feelings.

Since we were on the subject of age, my self-consciousness surfaced and made me ask, “Do you think it is too late for a person my age to learn a new language?”  With a usual Japanese solemn face, he answered “yes.”  Well, my trick to solicit some encouragement did not work.  So I tried again when I sat down next to the sleepy 19 year old after the tutoring hour.   I asked the same question; he had a similar serious facial expression and answered exactly the same, “yes.”

That is why I like to be with young people so much. They are so honest.

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