Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Cove Chronicles - Day 7: Nelson Sensei

It seems like I can never get enough of the road when I head back home.

I went to school at Central Washington University, and for four years I called Ellensburg my home. I had been wanting to get back up to Ellensburg and see the old CWU area, and maybe even catch up with some folks from the area.

Today, Dad had to pick up some steel in Toppenish. He said, "Why don't you and Mom come with me, and we'll swing up to Ellensburg first?"

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

So I made a call up to Nelson Sensei, my Japanese sensei when I went to school there, and asked if we could work out some way to meet up.

He said, "My wife and I will meet you all for lunch. Call me when you get close to Ellensburg."

Again, sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Nelson Sensei is an incredible person. He really influenced my life and the path I have taken with it, from pretty much the first day I met him.

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September 1996. 9 AM. Language & Lit. Japanese 101.

A big linebacker-built guy with a beard comes strolling through the classroom entrance and starts speaking Japanese at us. I say "at" because none of us had any idea what he was saying. Jaws hit desks throughout the classroom. I remember thinking,
"I have no idea what this guy is saying, but that is cool. I want to be able to do that someday."
As classes continued, I was attracted more and more to the Japanese language because of the pure passion that Sensei had as he taught it. I decided to major in Japanese. I started working as a peer advisor for Japanese students who came over for a short-term exchange. One day, as we passed each other on campus, he called me over and told me,
"Kiddo-kun, you have a very good thing going here. Don't f**k it up."
I honestly think that was the first time a teacher had ever sworn while talking to me. The conviction in what he said, and the way he said it, had a huge effect on me, and I threw myself even more into my studies.

I am very fortunate to have had Nelson Sensei as a teacher. He has not only a passion for teaching, but a passion for learning, and a passion for living. He tends to take his talks in odd directions at times, but the perspectives on life and the information I have been exposed to during my interactions with him have made me realize how lucky I am.

And ten years later, here I am, working at a private high school in Muroran and trying my best to be able to do what Nelson Sensei did in that L&L classroom 10 years ago, and also to not f**k up what I'm doing.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, we made it up to Ellensburg safely, and after making plans to meet, I stopped by a few offices of some old acquaintances and coworkers before Mom, Dad, and I headed downtown.

We met Nelson Sensei and his wife at the Starlight Cafe and were treated to an excellent lunch that included crab chowder, which was damn good.

After lunch, we had to get back on the road to pick up that stuff for Dad and make a stop through the Tri-Cities before heading home, so we said thank you, and I got a quick photo with Sensei and his wife in front of the restaurant before we took off.

It was really good to be able to visit with Sensei again. And as much as I hope that I am doing my parents proud, I hope I am doing him proud as well.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ARE and you ARE!

Thursday, September 07, 2006 2:01:00 AM  
Blogger Scott Lothes said...

Good post, Dustin! Definitely my favorite from "The Cove Chronicles" so far. I know the main reason for your blog is documentation, but I really like it when you go deeper!

Scott

Thursday, September 07, 2006 9:20:00 PM  

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