Konnichi – what? | SierraSun.com

Konnichi – what?

Renée Shadforth

Last Thursday started out as a train wreck of a day, but it was a small price to pay for a blissful end.When my alarm sounded, I tried opening my eyes, and only the right one would cooperate. I jumped out of bed to see in the mirror that my eye lid had swelled to the size of a Tootsie Pop.For a half hour I toiled about how I was going to hide my peeper at work – gauze and medical tape or sunglasses? Anyway, after popping some Benedryl and deciding to wear my prescription glasses, I headed off to the Sierra Sun.OK, so maybe “train wreck of a day” was an overstatement, but it wasn’t a pretty start …***Fast forward six hours or so.Deep into the mire of deadline day at the Sierra Sun, I got a phone call that would turn the fate of the next three months of my life. It was Bill Reeves – a Rotarian from Carson City and past district governor of our area’s Rotary District.”How’d you like to go to Japan?” Bill asked.I don’t know Bill very well, and I’m not sure I have his sense of humor dialed in yet, so all I could say was, “Huh?”***Rewind one month.An announcement appears in this paper, advertising Rotary International’s Global Study Exchange program. The crux of Global Study Exchange is that Rotary sends a group of four non-Rotarians to another country for a month to live with families and meet people in the same vocation.In the spring, professionals from central Japan visited our neck of the woods. In October, a Rotary district from Japan will return the favor and host four non-Rotarians and Group Leader Bill from our Rotary district, which includes clubs from Elko, Nev., to Auburn.With a blessing from the Rotary Club of Truckee, I applied for the program and interviewed in front of a panel of Rotarians.Long story short, I was selected as an alternate. This was the worst situation I could imagine, to be honest. So close, yet so darn far. I wanted to go so badly, and who in their right mind would drop a chance like this?***That takes me back to my conversation with Bill.”How … would … you … like … to … go … to … Japan?” he asked, much more deliberately this time.Turns out one of the team members couldn’t get final approval from her employer. She was crushed, as I could imagine.Me? I was shocked.In the next two months, I’m going to experience the rigors of learning as much Japanese as possible while in the car on the way to and from work.I’m also going to have to learn how to not make a fool of myself in a country that is so foreign to me. So far, I’ve gathered that it’s rude to point a chopstick at someone, you don’t pour your own water and it’s OK to slurp your noodles while at dinner. I’m sure there’s much more to learn, most of which I will pick up as I go while I’m in Japan.And I can’t wait to soak it all up, to take my experiences from Truckee to Japan, and hopefully I’ll bring a bit back with me.Renée Shadforth, assistant editor of the Sierra Sun, will chronicle her October trip to Japan in the newspaper.