Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some Things Are Universal

The stream of events leading up to now are worthy.

I woke up yesterday to an email from a Yale alum who I knew from Japanese class inviting me to a Yale Club event. As it so happens, President Levin was scheduled to visit Waseda University and would later be speaking to the Yale Club at a private reception at Shinsei Bank.

My jaw hit the floor. It was pure serendipity. I hadn't yet been here two days and the possibility of making real connections had just slapped me in the face. The momentousness of the occasion was also marked by an Earthquake. I kid you not, there was a small tremor in Tokyo. I lost my quake-ginity.

So first stop was Waseda Daigaku where the President was to receive an honorary degree. The University had designated the event "Yale Day," which also had a series of lectures by visiting Yale faculty.

The President gave a long pedantic speech about developing sustainability on the Yale campus as well as within the American economy. Some of you remember how Levin's dull graduation speech practically stole the tears out of our eyes in spring 2007. This was no different, grandiloquent and didactic. I was expecting to see ever-diligent Japanese students copying down every word in preparation for conquest of the Pacific theater. What I saw instead was a scene straight out of my college days. People were sleeping and nodding off throughout the auditorium! By the way, I went to a lecture by a famous Yale scholar about Japanese Imperialism later in the day and it was no different. I could sense that the Japanese kids wanted to bounce. Some things are universal I guess.

Now the Yale Club party at Shinsei bank was a classy event. Lucky for a sharp guy as myself, I remembered to pack some cuff links, a tie, and a stash of business cards. Actually on the way over to the reception, I was intercepted by a Yale student who recognized me. When we got to the beautiful 20th floor conference room with a soaring nighttime view of the Tokyo cityscape (straight out of Lost In Translation), he remarked to me, "Ethan, there is no way you are not getting a job tonight."

"I'll drink to that." I replied.

I was schmoozing with people way more important than I realized; university presidents, senators, banking CEOs, and respected professors were everywhere sharing drinks and sushi. I was also totally surprised to see a handful of former classmates and alums I knew from back in the day. It was one of those moments that made me think that I should put every effort into staying here. My pocket is now heavy with business cards, notes, and numbers from all kinds of people. Maybe someone will be able to throw me a bone. I went out for drinks with a few of the younger people afterwards, crashed at one of their apartments in Ebisu, and now I'm having a 6am jet lag moment. Worthy, correct?

And it all began less than a day ago with an email and an earthquake.

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