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東日本大震災翻訳プロジェクト〔第5話〕

  • English
  • 日本語

My experience

Richard Sundeen, 50, IES International English School
Translated by SAITO Yuka

 It was 1987 that I made my first trip to Japan. In 1989, I came to Iwaki. Since then, as an owner of English conversation school, I have been engaged in English education in the city. I got married in 1999. I purchased a small house in 2004, as I was able to receive a housing loan from a bank. My daughter was born in the next year.

  Most people think that large-scale disasters are distant and not related to them. Sometimes I thought that “If I were the victim…” or “how are the affected people surviving?” and I and my wife used to donate a small sum of money once in a while. But I had never thought that I would suffer from such a big disaster, and be in a position to receive donations from relatives in Japan and in America. “This is continuing too long…must be causing a huge damage somewhere” at that time I thought so in an instant. I heard a distant explosion and a siren.

 I and my wife were in Chuodai district for giving English lesson. We moved to kindergarten to receive my daughter. After I confirmed my daughter’s safety, I went to my English school in Taira district in order to confirm the safety of employees and students.

  Inside of the building was in disorder. As a water tank was broken, water, small stones, and tropical fish were all over the floor. Items had fallen off from shelves, and were scattered in water. As I wanted to resume the school from the next week, I began to clean up my school in aftershocks.

 It might have been on March 12 afternoon that TV began to report the serious situation in Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant. My employees began to evacuate. Over the next two or three days, my friends also left from Iwaki. As the situation got worse, I began to feel alone.

 TV news repeated that “radioactive substance is like pollen. You can wash it away.” But water was not available. Is it really OK to stay here? How will this affect to children? Many questions came to my mind. We did not have enough gasoline for evacuation. What shall we do? Let me use white gasoline for camping stove! But even it was not enough for a long distance. Eventually, on March 17, we got to Fukushima Airport by bus, and we made it to Kyushu where my wife’s relatives live. I had spent about ten days in Kyushu, thinking deeply about my future and Iwaki’s future. Over and over again, I regretted I had purchased my house there seven years ago. As an English teacher, I knew that I could teach English anywhere in Japan. At the same time, I knew I was responsible for paying back the housing loan, my students, my employees, and their families.

  I returned to Iwaki and started preparation for resuming the school. As one of my employees was from Futaba Town, she had to move to Kanto region. I am sorry for this. Two English teachers out of four left Japan for their home countries. Yet, I decided to do my best. Under the new circumstances, I decided to relocate my school to a smaller facility. It seemed difficult to hire new English teachers for a while. I renovated the new facility with my friends. I am proud of having a small, but comfortable school.

 Finally, I reopened the school on 5 April, 2011. Seeing smiles of young and old students made me cheerful after a long time. Within six months, almost all the students came back to my school. I am busy with everyday lesson, speech contest, homestay in Australia, and special course for Eiken (English Proficiency Test in Japan). It is just like sugoroku (Japanese backgammon) that I am back to square one. But I have never given up. And now, everyday life is returning to Iwaki.

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