First part-time job
My approach to the choice of part-time job lacked humbleness, the desirable quality in young people in Japan. Other school peers found their part-time jobs at restaurants, fast food shops, karaoke boxes, supermarkets, etc. They paid about 800 yen per hour, which didn’t seem to be the most efficient way to earn money. I wanted to make enough money with as short labor hours as possible. Who wouldn’t?
Fortunately, Waseda students were valued tutors. If you were lucky, you could find a family that hires you and pays the generous tutoring fee directly. The rate was about 2,500 yen per hour, and each session was two hours, so you could earn 5,000 yen a day. But in most cases, families hired tutors through an agency for safety. In that case, tutors were paid a lower hourly rate.
I was, however, a lucky one. Someone I met at a social drink introduced me to her relative, who was looking for a tutor for their 17-year-old daughter. She needed help with her English. They promised to pay 2,500 yen per hour, once a week, until the end of the year.
The girl came to my apartment at 7 pm after school and her band practice. What I taught her was the study method I had acquired in my high school years. I might have been rubbish at romantically communicating with Chris, but I read & wrote well and had a decent vocabulary. Students needed to read the exam materials fast and understand them correctly because most exams were in multiple-choice format. I gave her many reading practices for the week, and I tested her comprehension when we met. She was a very polite and quiet girl and did what was told.
I tutored her for several months, and I felt like an imposter teaching nonsense to an innocent girl and taking money from her benevolent parents. As we rarely talked about our personal lives, I wondered if she really trusted me or was just following her parents’ instructions.
When our agreed period came to an end, we took a “purikura” together to commemorate our tutor-student relationship. It was the first time we bonded like sisters. We didn’t speak to each other after that until one year later, I received a letter from her, which said she got into Waseda. She also wrote that I was a better tutor than any other tutors she ever had and credited me for her successful outcome.
Even with the lovely letter, I was still very insecure if I taught the right way, and I believed she was smart enough to pass any exams with or without me. Later, I learned it was called “imposter syndrome,” a symptom more common to women than men. Women are so NOT used to receiving praise or credit to their capability that they discredit themselves from their accomplishments. Imposter syndrome followed me all my life, and I still struggle with it, but now as I recall my memories with my first student, I am proud of her and myself.