Friday, June 15, 2007

Eh-hum # 167

*Started this post at the Japan Foundation Kyoto Office's library yesterday afternoon and finished it at the comfort of my dorm room. Its 1:38 Saturday morning and am wide awake...I dunno if its the (lethal) combination of tea, coffee and soda or the urge to download and watch some videos (now, its Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) or because I found out yesterday evening that I do not have Nihongo class later and its ok to sleep at an ungodly hour (dawn)...or perhaps ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Am now at Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku to be exact, where the Japan Foundation Office is located. Today, its not a sight-seeing-and-go-around-until-you-drop day, but an opportunity to see/listen to my friend deliver her paper, the culmination of her 10-month stay in Kobe as a Japan Foundation Research Fellow. Sounds serious? On one hand, yes, but in no way uninspiring, since I will be spending time with her and her husband, two very brilliant people if I may add.

And I was right. Sitting through the seminar, I gained two things. First, I had a crash course on travel narratives. A branch of literature which can be described as the (written) experiences/observations of individuals who visited foreign lands. No, this is not Lonely Planet. Travel narratives has provided information and insights about a foreign society and culture in a given timeframe. Moreover, these accounts also give readers an opportunity to analyze the values/interests of the authors themselves as they record their experiences. (I will leave it at that since I am not an expert on the subject and as they say, less talk, less mistakes).

The second thing was the value (and rewards) of excellent/in-depth research work. The seminar made me realize that there is so much to learn about conceptualizing, writing and defending a research paper/topic: the framework, the methodology, its significance/contribution and the content. I am particularly proud that back in college, my thesis mate and I got the highest possible mark for an I.S. thesis (I think we still hold that record) and that I have worked as a researcher for the government. BUT, I get carried away, thinking that writing school papers, getting good grades, writing briefings were enough.

There was a point that completing a paper was more of a requirement, not an insightful undertaking. Meaning, I just wanted to finish it for the sake of finishing it, nothing more. I liked to be called a researcher, but I only like to be regarded as such and would care very little about the actual research work. I brag that I am here in Japan working to develop a thesis topic, to show that yeah, I am an intellectual snob and you are just a bunch of airheads. But then, I slack off.

Hence, the trip to Kyoto yesterday was a wake-up call for me. My friend's confidence in her study and the integrity of her work are an inspiration. The seminar and our conversation over dinner made me realize of my mistakes and the areas I needed to improve on. Its embarassing for me to admit it, but denying wouldn't do any good.

I still have a long way to go, but its not too late. I need to change, and regain the eagerness the initiative that I had early on in my career. I want to be more appreciative of what I have learned in the past, to know it by heart, and have the drive to learn more. I want to improve my writing and analytical skills. I want to finish my MA, and earn people's respect in the process. I don't just want a high paying job, I want a job that I can contribute in and impart knowledge. I want to be more competent in my chosen field. I want to work hard and work smart on a research project, and proudly calling it mine. I want that, everytime asks me if I am a researcher, I would say yes, without a doubt.

Gosh, I do pray this post made sense. And now, I need some sleep.

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