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The 2007 World Athletic Championships

My attempt at volunteering


The 2007 World Athletic (Track and Field) Championships are being held in Osaka at the end of August. I'd seen posters up in the train station advertising tickets and about a month ago I went on their website to check them out. This is when I discovered they needed volunteers. It was also at this time I decided it would be a good idea and fired off an application.

I received a letter back from them 2 weeks ago and they had scheduled an interview for me for today at 3:30. Now, this letter was written competely in Japanese, so I had to get someone else to read it for me.

For those who don't know, I've been studying Japanese for about 6 or 7 months now. I'm not very good, but can put a few sentences together and can read and write some. But, it's fun. To be a volunteer you have to be able to speak and understand some basic Japanese. I think I might qualify, but I'm not sure about that yet.

So, today was my interview. I had no idea what to expect, and even though I had no expectations it was still completely different than anything I would have guessed. I arrived early and had to go wait for our group to be called. At this point I was already lost, and resorted to the old trick of just watching to see what everyone else does. About 10 minutes later someone came in and said something and everyone else got up to leave, so I did too. We then had to go into another area to wait again. (Side note: this was held in a Lion's Club hall (den maybe?), so yes they are everywhere.) In this area we were also given two sheets, an information sheet and another sheet in Japanese that we were supposed to fill out.

This sheet asked us two questions, after a while I kind of figured out what they said. And to be on the safe side I said no to both of them. Once I did this I was just hanging out and I noticed another English guy come in and sit down. At one point we just looked at each other with a What the F? look on our faces. He came over and sat down and we just kind of laughed.

At this point things got strange, other than everyone being dead quiet and nobody talking. We were split up into two groups. I went one way and the other English guy went the other way. I was on my own again. Then we were led up behind the stage where there were 12 chairs set up in a line and a desk with two men sitting behind it. Yes, it was a group interview.

Luckily, I was #10 and at the end of the line. The men behind the desk started speaking and looking at their notes and then asked a question. I had no idea what the question was, so I had to concentrate hard to try to guess it. So, I listened to all 9 answers before me and guessed that the question was "Why do you want to Volunteer?". So, I gave a very short answer after I apologized and said my Japanese is not very good. It seemed like I guessed correctly. So, we moved on to the next question.

Question #2 - I heard him say something about Osaka being hot and humid in the summer and then he asked the question. Again, I had no idea what he said so I had to try my guessing game again. I listened to all the answers then guessed it was, "what days can you work?". So, I told them I work at ECC and my days off are Sunday and Monday. I finished and the whole area was eerily quiet. At this point I knew I guessed wrong. It turns out the question was, "What sports are you doing to stay healthy?" (or something like that). So, I told him that I jog and play golf, which at this point are lies, but the words are the same in English and Japanese and I had to redeem myself. They seemed ok with this answer. But, I think I made everyone else in my group really really uncomfortable with my completely wrong answer.

After my wrong answer I started to about the complete absurdity of this situation. Me sitting in the back of a Lion's Hall in Japan doing an interview with 9 Japanese people in Japanese to volunteer at the World Track and Field Championships. And I was having a hard time keeping it together. Then it was on to question #3.

Question 3- I guessed correctly, that this question was, "Would you like to be a team leader?", but I couldn't answer. So, i gave him a look and just sort of shrugged and he said to me, "muzukashii?" which is difficult in Japanese. I said yes and we moved on. Which was a life saver.

Then we left the backstage area and we all went and sat at tables. Someone came along and collected my name tag and folder from me. I was just sitting there and then I noticed everyone else leaving so I got up and left. Thus ending my interview experience. Once I left I just started to laugh at this experience and realized even if I don't get picked I am still glad I tried. So, hopefully I do get picked and then I will have lots more crazy stories!

Posted by agc_cwm 03:17 Archived in Japan

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