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SOAR Story #2 - I think I'm learning Japanese, I really think so.

Back in August 2020, I posted a blog about SOAR stories. SOAR stories are a fantastic way to reflect on Situations that seemed challenging at the time because of certain Obstacles. In order to succeed, you took Action and the Result was something you can be proud of, and which contributed to who you are today. It built character.

You many think that these stories mean nothing. After all, they are just stories. However, ALL stories have a meaning; ALL stories disclose something about the characters in them. The character-traits are what keep people interested and yearning for more.

The story is only one part of what makes doing this exercise valuable. The more important part is rediscovering who you are at your core and what attributes distinguish you from others when faced with challenges.

I'd like to continue sharing some of my personal SOAR stories and the characteristics that they exhibit.

What are some of your SOAR stories? If you can't see your inner #basass, we can work together to rediscover it! I'd love to hear them and publish them on this blog!



In my first semester as an American student in Japan, I felt I was doing well in my Japanese 101 language class and was confident that I was understanding the language well enough to “get by”.

During the winter break, I was invited to spend the time with my aunts, uncles and cousins in Sendai, which is about 400 miles northeast of Osaka. This was my first time meeting my Japanese family.

In school, we learn standard Japanese, or “Hyojungo” - think of anchors on the news; those who live in Osaka speak with a Kansai dialect and students living there naturally pick up words in the native dialect.

People of Sendai speak in a Tohoku (northeast) dialect. Although Japan is a relatively small country, people of one region can have difficulty understanding people of a different region. Hence, native Kansai speakers sometimes have difficulty understanding those from the Tohoku region (think NYC vs. New Orleans).

Imagine my surprise when I confidently travel to Sendai only to discover that I cannot understand the local dialect. I cannot understand my uncle nor my cousins. I can’t understand the woman who was apparently my mother’s best childhood friend. I have no ability to speak to, or to understand, a dying aunt.

All confidence lost and throwing a one-person pity-party, I sadly positioned myself in front of the TV and watched. And listened. A lot.

By the time I headed back to school in Osaka 6 weeks later, my listening comprehension had vastly improved. So much so, that I was not feeling challenged with Japanese 102 and I requested a skip-test.

My teachers felt it was a large undertaking, but they encouraged me. I studied a semester’s worth of Japanese in just two weeks and passed the test by a slim margin - enough for the school to allow me to attend the next level of language class, Japanese 201.

For reasons of “convenience”, I would sit in on the Japanese 201 “Advanced” class and ended up graduating at the top of this class.

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