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Quest for a Better Lifestyle

Originally published in the Vancouver Sun
Minami Ashigara Shi, Kanagawa Ken, Japan

I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. At this moment, I am sitting on a hill top,looking out at miles and miles of trees.  It is so green, beautiful and only 10 minutes from my home.
I don’t live in Canada anymore. When I moved from Canada, if you were able to, some Canadians moved to do what they wanted to do.

I decided that I would be a teacher when I was 26. If I liked it, one day I would own my own school. People laughed. 

With a Bachelor of Arts in theatre,  I landed a job at one of the biggest English language conversation schools in Japan. 

I learned enough to open my own school two years later and after ten years I was semi-retired at 36 with a chain of four schools (200 students), an hour and a half south of Tokyo, and one of them was in our Victorian style, Canadian house.

The Victorian house came by ship from Cloverdale, British Columbia. Then built in Minamiashigarashi. It is now one of our two guest houses.

Teaching English in Japan is a funny business and not easily defined. It is part entertainment, and part education. Studying English week after week can be incredibly dry and progress slow. But if you liven up the classes with humour, and make them into your own David Letterman or Larry King Show, the students keep coming back for more. I sometimes don a funny nose and glasses for my class of high-powered
business executives. Sometimes I am not sure if I do it for them or for me.  It keeps me sane.
My first school grew to more than 100 students in the first eight months.  So I hired two part-time teachers to help, a Canadian from Victoria and an American from Missouri.  I believe in free trade.  We peaked at four teachers and 200 students, including classes at various companies in the area.
After work, I talk with my family, we have three kids now. I watch NHL hockey live or recorded, and I enjoy Hulu, Netflix and You TUBE.  Often the movies or actors are Canadian. Though probably most think they are American.

My Japanese wife is great! She takes care of us, and is a junior high school English teacher. She helps with our English schools sometimes too!

Although I miss my Canadian family very much and can never really go back to the home I left, I like it here.
Where I am at this moment is quintessentially Canadian. What could be more Canadian than sitting among tall cedar trees, listening to the birds, on a hot, sunny summer’s day?

Kevin Burns
Owner & Head Teacher of Kevin`s English Schools

Get the Scoop on Teaching English in Japan!

About kintaro63 (227 Articles)
Writer and teacher in Japan

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