â€¢ Low Pay, High Quality: Reporter Christopher Johnson has lived and worked in Japan for most of the past 20 years. He admits that, like many foreign correspondents in Tokyo, he tended to look down on the Westerners teaching English as being lower on the ex-pat hierarchy than journalists. And the language school that went bankrupt, Nova, was perceived as "the biggest school with the lowest quality of teachers â€“ mostly fresh off the boat Westerners with no knowledge about Japan. They've got the lowest wages."
But his views changed Sunday night after attending a meeting of about 50 ex-Nova teachers (see story). "I was amazed at how intelligent these young people were. A number of them were completely fluent in Japanese. Some have lived here for 20 years," he says.
Chris notes, too, that the teachers' union reps had an extraordinary command of legalistic Japanese. "That sets them apart from almost every other foreigner in the country. It was impressive," he says.
â€¢ Generosity Below the Surface: Staff writer Sara Miller Llana has many Argentine friends outside the country. "They are the first to admit their own 'superiority complex' when it comes to the rest of Latin America. So, when I arrived here for the first time to cover the presidential election (see story), I was wondering if the people would be as friendly as other Latin Americans," she says. In Buenos Aires, they were no-nonsense, get to the point â€“ "which I appreciate," she says. They reminded her of New Yorkers. But she also found that if she needed help, they were as generous as anyone in the region.
For example, Sara went to a gym for a workout and a woman "shepherded me through the whole process and then insisted that I stay for another class with her," she says. "In an indigenous village, I was completely lost and this woman offered to walk me a half-hour across town to introduce me to the local shaman."
â€“ David Clark Scott