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Erina Kato
Erina Kato
STAFF INTERVIEW: Erina Kato (Japan, Instruction Coordinator - OCJS)

Jon: I know you're very busy with the online center at the moment but could you take a liitle time out for a newsletter interview?
Erina: Sure, no problem.

J: What do you do at the OCJS?
E: I'm the instruction coordinator for the OCJS and its a fairly broad role. Hard to summarize; its quite a challenge actually!

J: How did you come to be a teacher at the online center?
E: I am interested in international communication and I was looking for a job where I can communicate with people from other countries.

J: I hear you speak fluent English......
E: I'm not quite fluent yet but I can get by quite comfortably. I did a masters degree in International Communication and for my thesis I had been researching young homeless people in London. I lived in the UK initially for 5 months; 2 months in Cambridge and 3 months in London. I studied at the same Japanese teaching school as Suzuki Sensei (Silac Coordinator), but not at the same time. After that I went to the UK every 3 or 4 months for 10 days or 2 weeks to do research for my thesis; interviewing homeless people.

J: What did you think of the homeless people?
E: They were really nice. They all had a dream to work or study, to better their lives but they couldn't because of financial or family problems.

J: Do you have any interesting stories about life in the UK?
E: On my first day in the UK I arrived at Victoria station in London after a long flight from Japan which included a 7 hour stopover in Singapore so I wanted to take a shower. At Victoria train station I asked at the baggage office if there was any showers nearby. They said there was a shower next to the toilets. As my towel was in my luggage, I also asked for a towel and had to pay a 5 pound (sterling) deposit. I took a shower and returned the towel but didn't get my deposit back. I asked them about it but as I was a bit jetlagged, and didn't want to make a fuss, I just left.

J: 5 pounds for a shower, that's a bit expensive!
E: Another time I went to Leicester Square's Empire Theatre to watch the film Sliding Doors. Before I went into the movie theatre I saw some women going up to foreign people and giving them flowers and some paper. A lady approached me and started talking about religion or something and gave me some flowers and stuff. Then she asked me for some money. I gave her a one pound coin but she refused to take it and said 'notes only'. As I didn't have a 5 pound note I gave her 10 pounds (about 1,700 Yen). 'God bless you! God bless you! she said. I regularly went to Leicester Square but I knew after that not to take the flowers they offer.

J: After all these experiences what did you think of the UK?
E: I loved it. For me, the British people usually  keep a certain, proper, distance from others but it doesn't mean they ignored other people. If ever I was in trouble, they always lent a hand to help me. The worst thing about the UK was the prices.....

J: Things can be expensive if you keep giving your money away to people!
E: I only did that once or twice.  Really, everything is so expensive! But I thought Tesco's (supermarket) was great - very cheap. Perhaps I'll go and live in the UK someday.........

J: Right, swiftly moving on............When you're not being worked like a slave by Declan what do you do in your spare time?
E: I like watching movies, especially British ones. One of my favorites is Trainspotting, but my all time favorite is Cinema Paradiso. I also like writing and I prefer to keep in contact with my friends through letters rather then email because I think that a hand written letter is so much more personal than something typed on a computer.

J: And your future plans?
E: I only joined the faculty three months so I haven't thought much beyond the initial academic year of the OCJS. In the future though I would like to become a teacher who not only takes care of instruction during class time but also assist in the academic development and research projects of individual students outside of class; a bit like a counsellor.

J: Well, thanks for your time.
E: My pleasure!

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