“Chinese philosophy!?” The two ladies and I repeated the word in surprise. We were making curry in the cooking room of Nanzan Elementary school. It was a very hot day in July. An interesting event named Aichi Summer Seminar is held in Nagoya every July. There are more than 3,000 classes in it and anyone can take any classes freely there. That is why it is called “The Dream School”. I have participated in the dream school for five years and I take the same cooking class – Bangladeshi curry – every year. (I have written the event and the curry class in the past: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012)
The Bangladeshi curry class is led by some members of Japan Bangladesh Cooperative Society. Although I took the class five times, I have never met a Bangladeshi there but some Japanese members of the NGO and a Seychellois. Seychelles is a country officially called the Republic of Seychelles comprising more than 100 islands in the Indian Ocean. I think it is very rare to come across a Seychellois in this Far Eastern island country. He is Jean. He teaches English, economics, and Chinese philosophy in a university, and of course, teaches how to make delicious Bangladeshi curry in the cooking class.
The opening exclamation was uttered when one of the classmates in the cooking class asked Jean about his leisure time:
“So, what do you do in your spare time?”
“Well…I read books.”
“About my study.
“What do you study?”
How interesting! You know, he is from Seychelles and studies Chinese philosophy in Japan! I wanted to listen to him more and I thought I should not get his story all to myself at the same time. Then a light bulb went on over my head. I have a small English club in my neighborhood and teach some senior citizens once a week. I decided to invite him as a guest to the club. In fact, one year had already passed since they had an opportunity to talk with an English speaker. (The episode is here: “An Event at a Small English Club: When is the next session?”) I was sure they would be glad at the meeting. It was very kind of him that Jean agreed readily to come to the club.
The session was held on the second Wednesday this month. Seven members came to the club that day. The average age is around 75. The oldest person is an 83-year-old lady. The youngest is probably 63. Although one is a patient of Parkinson disease, one is recovering from a stroke, one has poor lung function, one is suffering from a spinal canal stenosis, and two of them have panic disorders, those elders and betters are flexible and curious, and enjoy their lives. So, they were waiting for Jean’s arrival in their excitement that morning.
Jean entered the room in applause. The senior citizens looked a little nervous in the beginning, but soon all of them were attracted by his interesting stories and came out of their shells. They looked very happy during the meeting. I was also very happy to see them excited with their starry eyes. They were enjoying like children. Pleasant hours fly past. Finally the time came when they had to say goodbye to Jean. While the others were saying goodbye and thank you to him, one of them ran up to me and whispered, “Teacher, Teacher, Jean is gentle and good-looking. I like him.” “Ha ha. I knew you would say that!” I winked at her. Actually, the rest of ladies came to me later and left similar comments. It seems that Jean has not only boosted the elderly people’s motivation for learning English, but also pierced some senior women’s hearts with shafts of love!