My new job is at the community college. I work in the building next door to where the college Karate class meets. My hours are flexed so I can work out with that class. It’s pretty exciting to have something to look forward to when I go to work on Monday mornings. Don’t get me wrong, I like my new job, but you know – Monday mornings are still Monday mornings. Monday mornings are a lot more exciting now that the first thing I do when I arrive on campus is stash my gi in a locker.
The man who founded the college’s Karate program came from Japan with the clothes on his back and a little bit of cash. At one point he lived in his car and did yard work for people. He came to the community college and in exchange for English lessons, he taught Karate. He started making soy sauce to give away as gifts, and with the encouragement and help of his Karate students, eventually went commercial. He’s now quite wealthy and a great philanthropist. You might know him as Mr. Yoshida. I know him as Yoshida Sensei. Read the full story about Yoshida Sensei here if you’d like to.
Yoshida Sensei kept working on his Karate. Nowadays he is the head of the organization of dojos I belong to. This organization includes my “home” dojo, the “college dojo,” and other local dojos I’ve written about before. So there’s the connection between soy sauce and my karate. But what about my new job? How’s that connected to soy sauce and Karate?
I work in the International Student Programs office. We help with just about every aspect of a foreign student’s life. If we can’t help directly we point the students to the right people. This office didn’t exist until maybe 8-10 years ago, so obviously the college has taken huge strides since Yoshida Sensei got his start.
My job enables me to pay all my Karate expenses. Tournament entry fees, belt test fees, Gasshuku, motel room for after Godo Renshu, and contact lenses. Plus whatever else might come up (hopefully never a hospital bill). Once I reach 3rd kyu in 6-7 years I’ll have to drive three hours on a monthly basis for training at the hombu dojo, so I’m saving up for food and fuel. I’m also saving up for my Shodan test. The college dojo will gain another Sensei.
You bet I have incentive to learn how to do my job and to do it well. It’s a busy office, there’s a lot to learn, and the work is never ever done. My job at the front desk can get insanely busy around the start of each new quarter, but I’m a mother so I know how to roll with the times when I barely get a couple of minutes to use the restroom. Karate has given me what it takes to listen to feedback, learn from mistakes, and grow especially when growing is hard to do. This is easily the most challenging office I’ve ever worked in. I’m up for the challenges thanks to my Karate. I’m helping students who, like Yoshida Sensei, are coming to America to learn and grow, maybe even establish new lives here.
Full circle again.