Opportunity Knocking on My Door

Otsuka Middle School

gBe modest, Mose,h my teacher complains as he throws the test on my desk. Whatfs his problem? I got 95 percent. gYes, but you could have got 100 percent or more, if you hadnft forgotten your homework all the time.h

Itfs true. Ifm clever. I donft need to study to get good grades. I learn stuff easily and can memorize passages within minutes. Sometimes I think Ifm smarter than the teacher. And now someone is telling me I am lacking something called gmodestyh. What does he mean?

Ifve spent all of my time studying English because I want to work all over the world using my English skills. I love English. English is going to be my future. English is going to take me places, places some people can only dream about. I imagine all the wonderful places, different cultures, new ideas and maybe even the woman of my dreams.

So I was over the moon when I went to America last year. How lucky I was. I lived and breathed English there. I was good, too. I showed off my English skills and impressed my hosts. And then came the shock!!

gTell us about Japanese politics,h asked my host family.

gWhat kind of Japanese music do you like?h they asked.

gTell us about traditional dishes, tea ceremonies and samurai.h

I seem to remember my elementary school teacher talking about tea ceremonycbla bla blacAnd my history teacher all excited about the samurai code..bla bla blac And wasnft it Japanese politics my social studies teacher was putting us to sleep with not so long ago? Or wait, was that the homework I forgot to do? Anyway I couldnft answer any of the questions about Japan.

gWell,h I answered. gI donft know that much about Japan.h And thatfs the gmodest truth.h It was deeply frustrating. I hadnft realized how very little I knew about my own country and culture. I had to admit I was a little ashamed. It was time to make a change!

gBe modest, Mose! The world is big and you canft possibly know everything.h

gLearn more, Mose. 95 percent is never enough. Ask questions, seek answers. Be modest in your search for knowledge.h

BING. A light goes on inside my head. I am awake for the first time in my life.

I want to learn more. More than just English. More than just school work. I want to learn it all.

How many times did opportunity knock, but I just didnft open the door? How many chances have I missed? How many doors did I just walk past without bothering to even peek inside?

Never again!


gBe modest, Mose, and open the door.h

(4-25 Speech in 66th Contest, 2014)

(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun

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