By Kotei Aoki

Illustrations by Tia Mansouri

 

First “Australian”

It was in the very end of United Airlines flight when I encountered the first “Australian.” Guess, it was no other than Jenny Craig. After the continuous sleep for the entire flight, my first encounter had to be diet program. I just woke up from a sixteen hour flight.

Surprisingly, I was asleep for most of the sixteen hour flight, except when the flight attendants rolled the smell of food in to the aisles. Probably the frequent flying I did for International Conference helped me get used to the flights. I should avoid using “lengthy” or “boring” for the sake of how people used to consider the idea of flying “pleasurable” without multimedia entertainment.

I started fiddling around with my bag to prepare for the landing. As I bend down to get something out, I heard the commercial over my head. I just thought, “What in the world?”

Golden Key International Honour Society was the only means for me to get acquainted with Australians. Through their conferences, most of Australian delegates were fit. I was at first shocked that Jenny Craig would see the benefit in advertising, even in an airplane. But not surprisingly later on, I figured out why they might be interested in widely advertising anyway.

 

 

Entering Australian Ground

For the first time in seven years, I was about to enter foreign ground once again. When I used to go back to China every summer vacation to see my grandparents, I hated these international gates. They are long. They are slow. They seem, in general, very inefficient as if every page the officer flips he asks questions: “Your name? Where you visiting from? Business or pleasure? Oh, you went to all these places?” No, maybe not the last one. But, in no time, I was allowed into the country. The officer cared less about my immigrant status.

Behind the gate was long line of… eh, the egg and snake game. I got my luggage and piled them on the cart. So here was the first problem in Australia. There were a number of exit gates. Hmm, with no signs. If they would not let me go through one of the gates, they should have indicated before I stepped forward. The connection flight was supposed to leave in two hours. I was frantic and would cut in line if I needed. But I was able to spare the rude behaviour. Interestingly, both connecting flights I took over to Australia, I had to get out to the airport to re-enter. What a pain.

 

 

Connecting flights

The connecting flight delayed for about half an hour. I had to sit quietly (something I rarely did in Stony Brook) and deal with how disgusting I feel. But I still slept in the airplane for an hour or two until it arrived at Canberra. There were three guys shamelessly speaking in Japanese about snacks they brought. Psss, who cares? They were worthless for my mouth to enunciate words to shut them up in Japanese. After all, they slept and still had to deal with my stink.

At Canberra airport, ANU student representatives held a table to sign everyone to welcome. So why did they not have my name on the list? I signed up for the service to be provided. I wonder. I digress, because they welcomed me anyhow. I got a folder of documents as a gift (yeah right, giving me school policy documents). They gave us a ride to the school, The Australian National University. They dropped each person in front of their accommodating residence hall.

 

Burton & Garran Hall

It is the name of one of residential halls on campus under University Accommodation Services (UAS). I chose this one because it was closer to dance studio. Funny thing is, this dance studio does not exist any more. But I would let UAS rip me off. B&G is kitchen dorm (they call it self-cater, whatever they wanted to mean). My hall is in corridor style; like the Irving. So I am back to basic in that sense too.

The dining halls are shared by all the residents in all four residential buildings in the B&G. With four burners per stove, five stoves and two grills per station, there are at least twenty stations. Each resident gets their own storage around kitchen, which I just recently realized. I was wondering why others’ storage are full of spices, snacks, kitchen ware or others. That explains why my storage space was empty for seven weeks. I am still cooking with fourteen-dollar milk pan, just because it still works.

 

 

First Day at B&G

As soon as I arrived at B&G, I was taken to a brief tour around the hall and to my room. I think the girl who guided me is one of the senior resident of a floor in my building also in student choir group, SCUNA. She acted uncomfortable with me any way, so “eh” to her.

When I was led to computer lab and music room, my next door neighbour happened to be using the computer. Incidentally he was also a so-called senior resident of my floor. Senior Resident has the similar responsibility as RA, but he is a post graduate student – generally what we refer to as graduate student.

After the tour, I decided to take the first shower in Australia. I must say I was awed. One notice that was put up on the door was “Save the water. Please be considerate. Take 5 minute shower.” Sure water is limited resources and should not be wasted. But, 5-minute shower? Really? Is ANU aware of compromising comfort to be proud of the environmentally conscious campus when it uses the radical environment protection program?

I visited the office to place deposits for Internet use and phone use. I still think it is a burden to be limited. But as far as that Stony Brook charging technology fee every semester is concerned, I am content with the price. Australia may not be as technologically advanced as United States. But B&G still charges two cents per megabyte – thus twenty dollars for one gigabyte – and that is more than enough for all practical purposes. University domain is free for access, computer labs allow external accesses, and campus wireless is free of use. Computer labs set caps of ten megabyte for external Internet access and the quota accumulates up to eighty. Campus wireless is slower but DC++ is useless on campus anyway. Including the research I will do for term papers, twenty dollars is all it costs me to use the Internet per semester.

At the office front desk, I asked where to get groceries, since there are kitchens. There was another person happened to be standing next to me with his inquiry. So he gave me a direction to the nearest mall, Canberra Centre. He happened to be Residential committee President. Then I guess I was not doing so bad at meeting people, those with important duties in the dorm. Also the student technician, who adjusted the network cables on main panel for me, happened to be one of three “residential scholars” in B&G.

As soon as the room phone and the Internet were properly set up. I walked to the Canberra Centre. It is just fifteen minutes away. Surprisingly I got lost on my way back to Uni when I decided to take a different path. Because I got lost in the city and got cold sweat in the 26 Celsius afternoon, I already had a good sense of campus neighbourhood in my first day of stay. It was actually still 5PM – five more hours until I gave up on being productive.

Talking in Native Languages Is Just As Stupid As Not Speaking at All

During the orientation for the international students, they were trying to be informative. As for going around the campus, I had already figured most of what they had to say the day before the orientation day. The useful information was about student clubs because ANU’s Student Association page is just useless in grasping the clubs on campus. The presentation of studying style in the Uni was nothing but intimidating since there was not many differences from American schools. Term paper is required for many classes. The grade of the paper may depend on number of excess words and length of delay. Law school reduces the grade of paper by ten percent every hour of delay. Tutorials (our way of saying “Recitations”) are mandatory, so missing one will be penalized one way or the other.

All these times, I did not speak to any one. Why bother to talk if everyone found the group of their own. Dutch with Dutch people, Japanese with Japanese people, and so forth. I was not seeking Americans to hang out. However my first Facebook friend on ANU happened to be an American student from Wesleyan. That was just an accident. I mingle with others only when the mixture of the sense of humour is in the premise of my sense of humour. After seven weeks, I still bite on an apple in film viewing on campus while others snack something crunchy in the bag that rustle. While I make apple sound, the actors of the film imitate my appetite. Funny things happen when I differentiate from the majority. Unfortunately it often led to the trend or fashion that the differences had become less and less obvious. But that’s okay.

“Asians are the next black in Australia”

So here is the main attraction of this Kotei’s Korner Down Under. “Asians are the next black in Australia.” Please excuse that quote. It was bizarre at the same time was the reference of my behavioural expectation in Australia. So take it literal. What assumption can you deduce? Do Asians have darker skin than white? Do Asians share the sense of intimate community like Black Americans? Do Asians feel the “fate”? Do they have the unique slang or form of language different from standard language? Are Asians cheerful? Are Asians feared? Are they musical? Are they humorous? Is Asian population larger than other minorities?

I think the quote was partly a joke. But something may make sense in the advice. Perhaps Asians are not just minority existence, or skin colour. Probably the advice was serious enough to compare some sociological characteristics of Black Americans in United States. There were a few suggestions I made prior to visiting Australia.

In the United States, Black Americans are said to be more tightly bonded to each other than Asian Americans. In political science, we call it linked fate and the bonds strongly influence voting behaviour. (Voting is compulsory in Australia, by the way.) On the contrary, Asians are very sporadic and very independent. Since it is unfair to generalize all the Asian people, I will separate as much as I know.

Asians seem to get together for their own benefit and otherwise they can be indifferent. It is very typical extremes for CJK – Chinese, Japanese, Korean. In one way they get together so close and form barriers outside of their groups. On the other hand, they can be very indifferent and often hate their kind. For the latter, I know it happens because I belong to the category. Also I can suggest a dialectal factor as the main contribution to the former behaviour. Each CJK group speaks relatively similar dialects. Also because of large immigrants from CJK, many of them feel speaking English in United States is optional. So perhaps Asian Australians feel linked fate more than they would in United States.

Among all the Asian Americans, I think the most intriguing is the Indian Americans, in particular. From my friends, I rarely observe my previous statement. I usually observe their open and curious nature. Perhaps, having English as their only common language helps stay interested in finding differences amongst their kind. Some groups of Asian Australians may be reserved to their kinds while others are eager to communicate.

Western (Persia, Israel, and the between) and Central (-stan’s) Asians seem reserved. But I cannot say a lot about them. One thing is that I had very few acquaintances to these groups of people. Perhaps they don’t really express their nationality unless they define themselves in terms of religious affiliations. If I flip their behaviour, some Asian Australians are expected to be non-sectarian and have no problem dealing with religions?

Other factors, like physical abilities or cultural ideologies, are unique to each generations (genotype and traditional practices, this case) so it shouldn’t be the question. There are other things that we often remark as “Black Blood.”

As far as my observation goes, the most probable origin of the quote is East Indians. I admit that I rarely see the black descendants on campus. So when I head to classes and walk on campus, my attention goes as if to catch something rare. Often the person is just dark skin, possibly from some part of Indian tectonic plate. Probably it is Canberra where I hardly observe the black skin. Perhaps I am likely to encounter in Victoria, such as Melbourne considering the slavery history of Australia. My point is that “Asian” in the above quote is quite gross generalization of observation. The person was either ignorant, cared less about other races than Caucasian, not a scholar, or blind. After all the quote was taken from the Internet. Who can trust the Internet?

Surely the size of Asian population is beyond my expectation. Everywhere I turn there goes Asian. I am really sick and tired of them, especially because they can only be comfortable around the mirror image of themselves. So they are gloomy in English speaking group. So who cares about their slang, if they avoid articulating their speech, acquiring correct pronunciation or avoid speaking altogether? They are rather intimidating, I would say, to other races because they group up like thugs. It doesn’t really matter if they laugh or sing because they are just the groups of thugs speaking only their native languages.

 

 

Blondes

What struck me most was the number of blonde students on campus. You know, Americans often fantasize about blondes. San Diego, as one research also found that the likelihood of encountering attractive people is highest in the country? Miami, one not in Ohio where both boys and girls are open? Open, I mean, really open. I would think they would not think being surrounded by blondes a dream too good to be true in Australia. What do you think?

For a colour blind (red-green kind), brunette and blonde look similar. So I am indifferent about blonde in Australia.

ANU Film

As a past time of the first two weeks on campus, I decided to sign up for ANU Film. Every few days, the group run by students shows films such as Lions for Lambs, American Gangster and Once. When I was not told about the textbooks for the semester, I had to entertain myself in distracting the depression of being apart from my other half. I also played a turn-based game Battle of Wesnoth, but that just created frustration.

Lions for Lambs was difficult film to comprehend when so many moral values are discussed and the frame switch just as easily as flicking the lights in your room. As an ethicist, the film addresses very interesting problems. Although I had little time contemplating during the film, I have a good reason to watch it again to understand the problem.

Eastern Promises was one gruesome film. Well, he cuts the body and chops finger tips. But what made me think most was the fact that the film depicted Russian mafia. My understanding of mafia is that they will erase anyone who they are discontent. That brought me back to the thought that my ex makes a deal with Russian Mafia to kill me for breaking up with her.

Day Watch was rather silly film for me. It was like Wesley Snipes’… oh maybe, Wesley Snipes’

I love adventure and suspense, but National Treasure: Book of Secrets was too much to handle. The story made no turns. Everything seemed predictable.

Into The Wild was the story of a boy, Christopher McCandless, who graduated from Emory and was headed to Law School at Harvard. He escapes from the materialistic world and takes a journey to Alaska, where he died of poisoning by berries. Supposedly, Sean Penn illustrated Chris’ impact on people who he met on his way. I just disagree that one can influence the others by such a radical approach. Chris was too weak to find what mattered to him most in the materialistic world. It could be done, if one hears his or her own instinct. People in general lack the ability these days.

American Gangster was good. The progress of the investigation was not as intense as the review described.

Once, from Ireland, was one of few good films that ANU Film showed. This low-budget film was somewhat bitter throughout the story. It encouraged to make actions when one holds an ambition, instead of passively waiting for someone to offer one.

Fool’s Gold was unheard of, but I enjoyed it. The treasure hunt started from research rather than simply sailing after the legend. Yes maybe they were stupid enough to get married after their hot summer vacation in Florida. But their love for archaeology gave enough motivation to regain successful relationship. When the legend was possibly passed down falsely for centuries, the story regained its intellectual taste. The story was very satisfying for a silly couple.

Although Samuel L. Jackson played his character impressively, Jumper was just another film that switches the scenes too quickly. Superhero ability was the ability to teleport, but it was rather immature. I can only say is that Jackson reminded me of Morpheus in Matrix; I wonder if he can really move so swiftly.

Words to Get a Person in Trouble

Alright, it was just around fifth week when I was dissatisfied with a service on campus. I complained about the poor treatment from the staff to the head of the department. A week later I was told the person left the office. Being a behavioural analyst by practice is not convenient. But someone has to fix the problems which people assume inevitable. If the staff treats a student with wrong motivation, the person should face the consequence. If everyone is afraid and passively accepting the abuse, someone has to speak up and end the unjust when no one should ever accept such an abuse. So I got someone in trouble of staying the position. Apparently campus efficacy is low even in ANU.

 

 

ANU – The Australian National University

There were two reasons for choosing ANU over Deakin and Queensland. ANU offered a behaviour class. It is just consumer behaviour from Marketing department. Really, I still stereotype Marketing business itself. Right now the classes just got interesting because the material covered deals with cognitive and psychological behaviour. Another reason was that I was more familiar with ANU than other schools. I have met student delegates and advisor delegate from ANU at Golden Key’s conference.

ANU is supposedly the best university in Australia. Well, there are more geeks to be found. But guys still talk about objectifying the female, as if it is the universal topic of guy conversation. Once I hear a guy calling name at a girl when her boyfriend was in the same room; the boyfriend said nothing to defend her.

 

Mocktail

Many social events, whether from residence halls or student clubs, involve cocktails. Mocktails must be the alternative to non-alcoholic drinks. As you hear my tone, I have no further knowledge about this. When I do not so eagerly drink in social situation, I have no motive to be in the social event where alcohol is involved one way or the other. Honestly, if you frowned at the smell of alcohol, how comfortable would you be in a place where alcohol circulates?

Sadly cocktail/mocktail party seems to be “the way to go.” Many clubs “proudly presents cocktail/mocktail” party as social events. It is accepted but once again there is no reason for me to accept it.

 

Class Loads

One of the differences between Australian National and Stony Brook is in the flexibility in expanding one’s horizon. If a student is pursuing a degree in law, his or her classes must be from law department. Most classes offer 6 units and full-time load is eighteen. Above 24 is overload but effectively the student takes four or more classes.

I cannot imagine taking various courses for the sake of quenching the desire for further knowledge. If a full-time student can take only three or four classes per semester, how could a student finish the degree in two years? My life would have been very different. Yet, I am taking a course from School of Music, another in economic history, then in marketing, while working towards degrees in applied sciences, economics, and ethics. When it comes to academics, I am surprisingly contrasting to my personal life.

Another thing I realized is the student involvement in campus clubs. Having less than minimal spiritual life is one thing, but I really miss playing sports, running clubs, and collecting topics for newspaper articles. I contacted the campus newspaper, but they ignore so they are worthless to work with. It seems like a shock to people when I mention I am more interested in writing for a paper than subscribing to a paper. Perhaps I feel less encouragement to get hands on every possible clubs (as I used to be), because every class requires term paper as part of grading. I just submitted a paper in ethnomusicology of Tango music. It was only up to 1500 words and I had more work in reducing the number of words. But as I cited ten scholarly journals, one book, seven music scores, and two websites, the work was indeed intense for a student who often avoids reading. Yes, I still tend to avoid reading although I write articles for a paper and lost only 8 points on iBT. I am probably just as surprised as others.

 

 

“Look,”

This sounds very often from Australian mouths. As matter of fact, I am very much intimidated by this “prefix” of the sentence. It sounds as though “Look why don’t you just understand?), ” or Look (why do you make me repeat?), “. Of course it is just my interpretation and cannot complain about their language when I don’t understand it well yet. Even if they are subconsciously offending the others with the language, until I have more evidence I need to deal with it.

Like avoid talking to them? Or just talking to people not on campus, because staff like those who always have to deal with people’s complaints or problems seem more edgy than people in school of music or in mall!

 

Spiritual Life

One activity that I miss from Stony Brook, amongst all the responsibilities I took in charge, involves my spiritual life. The enthusiasm of encouraging the spiritual pursuit is nearly none compared to that of Stony Brook students. There are a few groups for the practitioners of Christianity. I miss the pride of Hillel Foundation. I miss the spiritual guidance in practising Catholicism. The social events involve either cocktail or Bible Study. Sure, Bible Study is important in understanding the faith. But some variation, please.

 

True Religion

While being deprived of spiritual life on campus, I found that Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organizes the events to socialize in addition to weekly Bible study. The problem is the first introduction given by the representative during the club fair. I suppose it is fundamental of a religious faith to dictate that the religion is the only true kind. Who knows? The scriptures say. Messiahs say. Son of Man says. As an Agnostic, I always doubt the superiority of one religion over the others. Why would people fight for their faiths against the others? Why would people despise the others for not accepting their beliefs? It should not matter, really, how God is addressed. It does not matter, really, how each religion honours God. If more than two religions claim that they practice their faiths according to what He wants, forcing one ideal seems contradictory to the purpose of religions. Thus two months into the semester, I came to resolution that I do not suit the Latter-day Saints faith. I have a long pursuit for Catholicism. Yes I stick with Catholicism and remain faithful but also keep asking questions to the faith.

 

Swimming Pool

One facility that ANU lacks is the swimming facility. In Stony Brook, as a student, I took advantage of open pool hours to stay in shape. Swimming is great, when the entire back muscle is exercised. I feel sore muscle on my arms by swimming than by bench press. My legs buckle more likely after swimming than after hiking. But there is a little caution. If someone is just starting to swim, I must recommend to not pushing too far. Dehydration can make you black out.

There is apparently a swimming facility close to the city. My suspicion is that it is located in Australian Institute of Sport in Lyneham. But it is not within the walking distance and the semester bus pass ripped me off. So I never got a chance to swim. I brought swim suit with me, so any opportunity I can get to swim I will swim. It is indeed too bad.

 

My TV Show

I have pondered about the TV show since my first involvement with SBU TV station. I just wanted to imitate what the newscasters and other celebrities feel in front of the camera. At one point, somebody suggested a show for me where I am sent to parts of campus to do investigations. While the show never ran, I have pondered about my TV show since then. I thought that I can make my show comedic like Seinfeld. I thought that I can make the show like Montel. For now I enjoy writing something not solely journalistic on campus newspaper. Every time I write a piece, I feel like talking to someone.

 

Role of Wikipedia

In Stony Brook, Wikipedia was never to be used as a source. They did not allow the use of any part of the online encyclopedia. I always questioned why they should ban Wikipedia completely. I always believed that it was good source to start research. Given that the contributors are not credited, the citation is impossible. But many articles accompany the further references and citations. So I made use of Wikipedia to build the outline of my research paper.

ANU does not ban Wikipedia like Stony Brook does. ANU allows the use of the online encyclopedia under the assumption that a student uses its reference links to proceed to research. After all, my ethnomusicology paper cited ten sources from JSTOR and various other reference databases. I built my outline based on what I learned about the subject and a list of points to be discussed.

It is not just the online sources. The question is whether people should put complete restrictions on something at all. Some ethical problems such as abortion and medical marijuana are understandably in much debate. But some simpler issues as the roles of electronic assistance in learning are easier to reach a compromise with regard to banning.

 

High Speed Internet

I miss it.

ANU puts caps in the Internet usage across the campus. So I spare extra care to not waste away the quota. For that reason, I have not attempted to upload pictures on Facebook. Every job I do on the Internet I count every byte of information requested by each click. Ahh, unlimited Internet access.

 

Disorganized International Program

As an exchange student this semester, I am extremely frustrated and quite angry towards the International Program Office. This semester, I was hoping to attempt DEC J requirement. Since it was one of my motives, I consulted with the advisor. She tells me, at first in person, that I earn DEC J credit by participating in an exchange program. So she did not bother to advise me in choosing the appropriate classes. Then a month later, when I needed to finally choose the classes for the semester, she tells me, in writing, that I would need to enroll in the course that introduces the culture other than the Western culture. So I confirmed one class with her and she approves that it will count toward my DEC J. After half a semester is passed, I contact her again with a problem. I did not find an compatible course to match the course with the one in Stony Brook. She tells me nothing.

National Student Exchange program is really strict on what courses are counted as compatible or not. I feel much resentment with the disorganized procedures and the reluctance of the advisor in Stony Brook’s International Program Office. The advisor is not helpful or compassionate. She starts giving help when I ask. The help is not even complete. She speaks half of my concern and the other half of her correspondence is just a rumble. She upsets me and disappoint in her management. Why is she in the position if she does not care for the student in the program? Really gets me mad. So watch out, people. If interested, Stony Brook overall seems to have little contribution to students’ graduation.

 

“Men and Women of the Forces”

I wonder if someday female advocacy groups will complain about this phrasing. Sometimes I worry that these advocacy groups go overboard in assuming that the equality means their dominance. I want to believe that they are a rational bunch of people as economists consider – the basic assumption of economic models dictates the rational behaviour of consumers. But, I digress, The above quote is one that requires much consideration. If the nouns are ordered, one has to precede the other. If the nouns are not ordered, well they need to come up with something other than “they,”

“s-/he,” and “co.”

 

Overt Animal Slaughter

One day I received a breaking news email from CNN. It read, “143 million pounds of beef is being recalled by a Calif. Slaughterhouse being investigated for mistreating cattle.” Apparently I kept this message for quite a while, since Feb 18, 2008. It is really funny news though. Those who mince the meat and bring the chunks into market are condemned for mistreating cattle. I do not know what exactly takes place at a slaughterhouse. Only image that I can recall is the video that showed what makes Kosher meat different from the others. Beyond that, I have no clue.

Sometimes it gets my funny bone that people show so much concern for animal rights that they forget their comfort. Sure animals do have feelings and are the creature that creepeth the land. It is one’s choice to eat them or not. Some people do avoid consuming them. My girlfriend influenced me of how I see the seafood too. Some times they sacrifice much of their comfort for the sake of saving a few pounds of animal meat per week. If they are happy, I would not be so concerned. But often they see that as their responsibility and I just cannot perceive their action as completely voluntary.

GK Love

Here is my public concern towards Golden Key International Honour Society. Neither the headquarter nor the regional director responded to my concern. But the Chief Executive Officer did announce his resignation recently.

So here is some alerting observation in Golden Key’s recent fashion… If you have noticed or can apply yourself in the subject, please read and consider. I decided to make my concern and sympathy public because memberservice@goldenkey.org and my regional director have not been responsive. My regional director was supposed to return to the office a day after my inquiry but kept the issue untouched. So I feel they are not going to do anything with one boy’s opinion.

This semester I am on an exchange program at The Australian National University (ANU). After joining the ANU chapter’s mailing list, I received their newsletter recently. One of the articles was titled “Networking? Is that what they call it these days?” The writer is one of its current executive board officers, who attended her first conference. She goes on to talk about her experience at the first day of the conference, saying “I soon became aware that many at the conference were searching for anything between short-term conference love and a long-term blossoming GK romance specifically because of the quality of GK members.” I felt an urge to make some action against this “trend” before it becomes too late. She felt that most people are after “short and sweet dalliance” after the first day. From her point of view, girls were evaluating the eligibility and the quality of boys in order to later take part in “night time social function” while boys didn’t mind the judgmental eyes casting upon them. By the second day, GK Love had started. And some boys pimpin’ (having more than one ladies to reach for their waist). She could observe the “public display of affection and general associated behaviour.” Exactly, the question is “what else.” Because of such “hidden underbelly of Golden Key,” so she called it, she could humorously suggest speed dating in social activities.

As I have mentioned my concern for this matter in the survey after last ILC, the trend is visible and does exist. I was not disillusioned. This concept of “GK Love” may as well become out of control sooner than we think. Yes I sure felt Golden Key would be an ideal place to find relationship when I met wonderful groups of people at conferences. I agreed when I read in her article of someone’s quote, “Where else can you find so many smart, like-minded individuals all in the one room? When you think about it, it’s really not that silly.” Fortunately I was part of the executive board in my chapter. Thus my professionalism prevented me from having anything romantic. But the “trend” implies the mind set of the delegates and their intent for attending ILT. The purpose of International Leadership Training Conference is the workshop and to cultivate the skills in taking leadership. The “GK Love” indicates that the interests of those delegates are fading away from building “transferable skills” to finding “ideal fling.” If we lose their interests in workshop, why should Golden Key still function? Why should Golden Key invest so much of its budget in opening the “party” just for the members find “short and sweet dalliance”? I still agree that socializing is a vital component of Golden Key as an organization and Leadership Training Conferences. However, the possibility of losing enthusiasm with in becoming the better student leaders has risen apparently.

Last conference I was most concerned with many delegates participating in drinking party at night. I acknowledge that it was still for the sake of socializing. I acknowledge that this is not something any one individual has control over. However if there is something to counteract the whole trend that seems to look away from the purpose of these conferences, it would be the benefit of the true intent of International Conference – Leadership Training Conference. Just one directional adjustment, for the sake of turning their heads back to where it should be is all I ask. If the delegates are having party all night and have to struggle staying up for the next day’s workshops, the socialization defeats the purpose.

Personally I don’t drink. So I waved away the invitations from my friends from other conferences. Additional to previous concerns, I have heard from a delegate before the conference that he was looking forward to “meeting American girls.” That’s not the kind of comments that I or any of Golden Key devotees are pleased to hear. I have contributed to Golden Key for almost three years, because I believed in its future reputation. But if this “trend” escalates and if we came to resolution too late, I must admit that Golden Key is not seeing a bright future. Stop whining about not having corporate sponsorship. Stop whining employers don’t recognize Golden Key name on your transcript. It will be beyond the problem of some chapters doing cocktail/mocktail parties, game night in casino styles, or speed dating as the main activities for “member mobilization.” I have achieved “member mobilization” with behavioural analysis and have contributed to my chapter in a great deal without partying, since my advisor disliked the idea in the first place. If I can improve a chapter to draw more interests to the organization, to receive more acceptances from the prospective members, and to have more general members for our general meeting with them, so can you.

I am no longer so sure who to address this issue since I am not necessarily suggesting any advice. But as a former officer of one of the largest chapters in United States, I believe in the burgeoning reputation of Golden Key in the future. Thus I am very concerned with this “GK Love” idea. The bottom line is that I am not hallucinating. But when the headquarters are not responding to my concern, I shall ask all of you to be reminded of the emerging “trend.” Thank you for your attention. Let me know of your opinion. I don’t mind collecting your opinions for petition for the realignment (note that it’s not anything to do with political science term of “realignment”), just the realignment of the future direction of Golden Key.

 Sincerely yours,

Kotei Aoki

Vice President Emeritus of Stony Brook Chapter

 

 

What Keeps Them Together

When people meet, something keeps them apart or together. Two persons resonate when they find some common ground. It certainly is easy to talk with someone who understands your passions. But the relationship develops because they find differences. After all, differences are what make each individual unique.

Some people may assume relationships to be only the personal kind, but I disagree. The kind of relationship that calls for “Woo, what’s going on between them?” is not necessarily meaningful. One can hang out with some friends because he or she evaluates the time spent being with them more worthwhile than the one spent with some others. So what if he hangs out with her frequently?

Some people I know are very superficial. They are so quick to decide if they want someone to be beside them. Face value is bound to be wholly different from the true self. Otherwise we call them, say, crazy. While “getting to know” others, one finds differences. A good friend recognizes the differences and respects them. Because people are bound to be different, the key to lasting relationship, the personal and meaningful kind, is the recognition and the understanding of the differences. Compromises are compulsory.

Therefore, finding the differences should not discourage the relationships, unless you want to date and build family with yourself. The differences are a hard presence between two people. But fear not. Meaningful relationship must coincide with resolutions and the hardships must be overcome by the hearts of forgiveness. Resolving differences and reaching common ground are what keeps two people together in love.

Do What You Do Best

I try so hard because I’m not the best at anything. For admitting that one is not the best really gives me the edge. For one thing, I could stay away from arrogance. Sure every now and then I goof around to act like a thug. Sure, I often feel like showing off too, but nevertheless.

I do what I do best, because that is the best. If there is always something comparable, no one can be the best. Someone can be great, but not the best. So why dare to grab absolute best? In high school AP, I was upset to lose to this guy on midterm by one point. He got 95 and I had 94, while the rest of class got way below 60. When I thought I did really good, there was someone performing better in the exam although he slept through classes. But it didn’t despair me because I worked at my pace. At the end I received all the senior awards from high school in math including the highest achievement and also a scholarship from its math department, while he got only one.

That’s all in history now. Now I am most interested in expanding my horizon. In physics, it is interesting to find the mechanisms of some phenomenon that we often digress. Does it sound intriguing that the light refracts when it enters different medium? Maybe not, but it gets interesting when it is applied to physics. Have you ever asked why the west horizon is red in sunset, especially when you were little? The refraction occurs when the solar [radiation] from vacuum enters the atmosphere. Because at low elevation the light enters the atmosphere, the resultant refraction is larger and thus causing the frequency of light to change. I believe it’s also due to Doppler Effect in that the light fades away. It’s fun to know those trivia in many subjects, such as physics, chemistry, linguistics, sociology, psychology, geology, astronomy, biology, journalism, economics, and so on. All while, I still stand firm to assure that I am an ethicist and a behaviour study enthusiast.

Moreover I was not physically fit until very late although I was forced to commit to exercises. I was chubby for a long time despite my height. So when it comes to sports, I’m nowhere near confident enough to defeat the other contestants. I used to belong to swim team and soccer team. Let’s say I caused more trouble than helped the teams. I am clumsy as I am. I was not ready to commit to training, I suppose. When I entered all boys junior senior high school, the elite curriculum incorporated judo and rugby. Some guys were feisty, for sure. They even entered judo club or rugby club to further train. They usually won the annual tournament. The history teacher kept insisting that I join judo club because I was tall and he perhaps saw a potential in high performance. I sure was tall, but I still lost at the first round. I’m still not fit enough to keep running for more than half an hour, unless on treadmill I could run longer but faint at the end. I can play volleyball for five hour straight now and did not feel exhaustion at all. CCM was having end-of-year BBQ party. My friends were interchangeably having burgers and joining teams. I was the only one kept playing without eating. Intramural volleyball was the first time I ever seriously and competitively played every Sunday. I started spiking and blocking half their spikes. There is always a more experienced bunch out there.

But that’s history now. I am especially thankful for my gym teacher in high school. I left my junior-senior high after third of semester in to ninth grade. From tenth grade to twelfth grade in Forest Hills High School, I played many sports like American football, tennis, basketball, softball, baseball, and European handball. The good thing is that by now I can be at least somewhat competitive in any sports. I can’t forget to mention that. Ballroom has been very good for me.

My relation to music is actually long. But I did not truly appreciate the art until I was rewarded for the effort and the commitment that went in to produce ensemble. I was first introduced to performing music when I was in fifth grade in front of a glockenspiel. For that year’s annual performance, I switched from acting (I was neither ever challenging nor ever a good actor anyhow) to ensemble. In the same academic year, I joined school band as a tuba player. Following year I chose ensemble again this time with timpani. Although I stopped performing for years, I started playing music as a junior in high school, now as a saxophonist. I played throughout the rest of high school and also junior year in college. I never thought I would dig so deep into performing music (and performing dance) but I can’t deny the excitement of performing more and more is very exhilarating. Now I also play guitar, harmonica, and some trumpet.

All these effort is not just for my gratification. I intend to impart my experience to my significant other. I intend to pass down to the next generation. Why would I need other reasons? I love her and she loves my passion as much as I do for hers.

I am in love. Not in Australia. Not in my classes. Not in my future. In my lady. I will spare everything for her. I will do anything for her. I will love as much, profound and lasting as she will. No one loved me like she does. She trusts me she understands my passion, and she gives me full support. So shall I.

The time permits that this is going to be the one and the only Kotei’s Korner this semester. I threw a few posts on my Blog too, so I missed nothing. The future publication of Kotei’s Korner is yet to be considered and during the summer I will not have time to sit and type for a long time. But I like to deliver this Kotei’s Korner to mark my footsteps on Stony Brook campus.

I love you.