January 15, 2003

Best Friend (My friend Kaoru)

Three years ago, my friend Kaoru and I visited the Canadian Embassy in search of a "working-holiday visa". We both hoped to escape the stress and boredom of Japan. Like many Japanese women in their twenties and thirties, we dreamt of freedom. She was able to secure a visa. I was not, as I had exceeded the age limit for this type of visa. It was a crossroad for us. For the last three years she has been living in Canada. For me it was the same old routine in Tokyo. Last week she returned from Canada. I felt she had developed an aura of independence.For the first time she realized: Everything is expensive! Everyone is rushing! The streets are crowded ! These are her observations, for me, everything is normal. Her most shocking observation is "discrimination against foreigners". Wherever you are, you may experience this kind of racial or ethnic prejudice without even noticing. Though she didn't say, I feel she may have experienced this abuse while living overseas.

Question: While visiting other countries, have you experienced this kind of discrimination? What kind of discrimination was it? How did it make you feel? If it was by Japanese, I am so sorry. If you can, please these experiences with us.

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