In With the New…Knowledge and Skills

flat-screen-32307_1280I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve spent so many years teaching or if I’m naturally curious, but it seems like I’m always learning something new. Sometimes it’s out of necessity – records, 8-track players, and cassettes are no longer part of our lives, so now my husband and I listen to music through our Pandora app on the television or itunes on my laptop. Other times it’s because the new way is simply better and easier. For example, digital photography allows me to take more pictures because the camera is lighter and I don’t have to buy film, and it’s easier to get multiple copies of the pictures I like – and only the pictures I like!

SONY DSCI’d like to think I’m adaptable. In learning how to use a computer, I’ve managed to navigate the Internet for research, use social media for promotion (though my kids will say I’m more of a stalker), and manipulate digital images to create promotional pictures, or memes. I’ve done some digital scrapbooking, too, although for our family pictures I enjoy creating traditional scrapbooks. All my college lectures are saved in Powerpoint Slide presentations. And my address book is now saved on my phone as well as my computer – if people move, I don’t have to find a good eraser or begin a new page! Five years ago I got my first smart phone and I now carry my it everywhere, because if I have my phone I also have my address book, a note pad, a flashlight, a tuner (for when I’m playing in orchestra), a Japanese dictionary, a Bible (as well as my entire Kindle library), a GPS system, and of course, the internet. What more do I need, other than a few coins for the parking meter?

Nihongo_in_kanjiFive years ago I decided to learn to speak Japanese. The university where I teach hired a full-time Japanese instructor who graciously allowed me audit the first year Japanese course, and then the second year, and then the third. I will always be grateful for that opportunity, because I now have a greater understanding of the struggles my mother faced when she came here as a bride at age twenty-two. I’ve also become Facebook friends with two of my cousins, and although my grammar is awful we are able to converse. By the way, the characters to the right say “Nihongo” which means Japanese language.

I’d say the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make, though, is learning to see my children and grandchildren as adults. The kids who were twelve, ten, and six when I married their father are now in their forties. One is a grandfather! The children I carried and guided now have careers. This means I don’t always know what’s best. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and offer advice only when asked.

I suppose one day I will get to a point where I will simply decide I don’t feel like learning anything new. But hopefully that won’t happen for some time. I’m having a ball learning new things!

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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13 Responses to In With the New…Knowledge and Skills

  1. Its always great to have an open mind to learn new things. I have the same asset and it comes in handy. I believe its a mix of natural curiosity, motivation, and intelligence that makes us so willing to grasp onto new information and skills. My site consist of many different subjects, it is fairly new but I have quite a few post thus far. Please check it out, its definitely an opportunity to learn more.

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  2. jeff7salter says:

    I think it’s terrific that you took the time (& considerable effort) to learn the language of your ancestors. Surely it’s helped in some of the novels you’ve written — to know the words as well as being able to better research the historical culture.
    Had to chuckle at your mention of phonograph records and 8-track. So many people I interact with have never even touched either.
    You seem like the epitome of a “life-long learner”, so I doubt you will ever stop learning new things. Myself — I get tired of always climbing up the learning curve. Guess I’m lazier than you.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I don’t think anyone would agree with labeling you lazy, Jeff! And I think you continue to learn, even when you don’t THINK you are. Yes, my kids and grandkids have no idea how records and tape players work! They’ll never know the joy or rewinding. My youngest grandkids don’t watch much programmed television, so they don’t understand why they can’t watch a particular cartoon whenever they want on grandpa’s TV!

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  3. I love that you learned to speak Japanese, learning a new language is extremely hard. I remember when my sister-in-law first came to this country and she tried to teach me to speak Korean. I still know a few words but have decided that it is time to really learn the language.
    I am glad that you were able to learn enough Japanese to be able to talk to your cousins. That must be nice.
    I hope that you never lose the desire to keep learning.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks, Angela. It certainly is difficult to learn a new language, especially once we’ve reached mature adulthood! Seriously, the older you are, the more difficult it is. Fortunately, I’ve HEARD the language all my life, plus I took one semester of it during my undergraduate days almost forty years ago, so I had a BIT of a headstart. And USING the language is key – so I’m glad my cousins are willing to put up with my mangled Japanese to communicate with me!

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  4. Helen Pollard says:

    You are an inspiration, Patricia! I know I’m capable of learning new things, just very reluctant. My new smartphone is driving me mad, because I feel like I want to be spending my time on other things instead of fighting with the wretched thing! I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the end …
    By the by, my 16-year-old son is becoming very interested in Japan and Japanese culture, as a friend of ours spent several years there and enjoys passing on her knowledge, so she is ‘teaching’ a group of interested kids in his Explorer Scouts group once a week. As he is studying mainly sciences, it’s a lovely change for him!

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I think it boils down to motivation, Helen. I know I could learn to cook certain dishes, but since my husband takes care of all our meals, I’ve never learned to roast a turkey, flip an omelet, or bake bread. In exchange, I take care of al the online stuff in our house, like banking, correspondence, etc.
      How wonderful that your son is learning about Japan! When I sat in the Japanese language classes, I found that most of my fellow students were either business or science majors, looking for an edge in the job market. Apparently they are told that knowing an Asian language is a plus in those areas!

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  5. Never stop learning is great advice. Though with all the new technology coming through at light speed, our generation has a steeper learning curve than most. I admire your learning Japanese. Opened so many doors, it seems. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks for visiting, Margo! I agree, the benefits from learning Japanese have been far greater than I could have imagined. And I agree, getting a handle on new technology has us “mature students” really hopping to try and keep up!

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  6. I have been pretty good about learning the computer, etc., but I am always a step or two behind all the gadgets that everyone else seems to have…then I find that I can’t live without them!
    I congratulate you on your family and learning Japanese.I know it can’t be easy but wonderful to keep to your family roots.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Tonette, that’s so true about all the new gadgets! I never thought I’d need a smart phone. Now I’m never without it. Never thought I’d need an ipad or ereader, and now I use it every day. In fact, both gadgets are sitting on the kitchen table next to my laptop- which is always on when I’m home! But yes, it seems like I’m always a step or two behind the kids.

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