02-25 / “Y” is for “亿老师” (or Ms. Yo)
Even though she’s Chinese, I still refer to this lovely lady as “Yo-sensei” (Ms. Yo), the Japanese reading of her last name. In fact, her whole name in Japanese is read as “Yo Yo,” which most of us English speakers (and Yo-sensei, in fact) find infinitely entertaining. She came to Iki last April to be the Chinese teacher at the local high school. The Chinese teachers stay for two years at a time, and I really respect Yo-sensei because she left her five-year-old son in order to come here. (And I guess also her husband and her parents, but let’s not get nit-picky.) She did it because the pay is so much better and will give her family a much greater chance at success in the future.
Yo-sensei is fluent in Japanese and passable at English. When we talk, it’s mostly in Japanese with a smattering of Chinese (when I want to practice and she humors me) and English (when I can’t figure out how to say something in the other two). This is mind-boggling to most Japanese people. And, I have to say, since I spent a year in China and once considered myself conversationally fluent, the fact that the common language for an American and a Chinese person is Japanese well… that’s pretty funny.
Yo-sensei is more quiet and shy than other Chinese people I’ve met, and in that respect she’s pretty Japanese. But at the same time, her expectations and the things she considers rude, as well as her sense of humor, are decidedly not. It’s lovely to reminisce about my time in China with her, but also just to get another perspective from a different country and culture than the one I live in, or my own. And she also makes delicious Chinese food, which I’m a sucker for.