-Watch the 'Godfather' movies. Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 10
They're on any critics' list of the top 100 movies of all time, I see references to them in other shows all the time, and they won a bunch of academy awards. I think we should all take more time to better understand our own culture and its influences and for that reason alone I feel like I should watch the Godfather movies. But I'm also fascinated by the Mafia. I think the Mafia are the ultimate cautionary tale of what people can become when they let making money become their primary motivation. When protecting our money becomes our top priority, it can lead us to some dark places.
-Spend a Week Without Modern Technology. Difficulty Rating: 5 out of 10
I think most modern technology is wonderful and enriches our lives in many ways that we often take for granted. Going Amish for a week will hopefully give me a fresh perspective on the ease with which I live my life. But I also think that modern technology also distracts us from many of the smaller joys in life. Without Facebook's constant calls to read about my friends' day, maybe I'll be able to reconnect with some of the simple pleasures I'm sure I'm missing. At the very least, it should fill my week with new adventures and variety and slow down life's pace for a little while. I'm sure there will be great temptation to make exceptions to my self imposed electronic exile. But if I don't give in, I'll have a great sense of accomplishment and hopefully I'll have seen the world from a new perspective.
At a Renaissance festival a few years ago
Copyright Jeff Howick 2008
-Move to Japan. Difficulty Rating 6 out of 10:
This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, as I've been working toward this goal for awhile now. My wife and I both want to live abroad because we think experiencing other cultures is vitally important. I think everyone should travel, it's important to see that there are other ways to view the world just as valid as our own or that despite our differences, we still have much in common with people in other cultures. Why do I want to move to Japan in particular? A myriad of reasons, I guess. Japan is the first culture I remember being aware of outside my own. Since then, the more of Japan I encountered, the more I enjoyed it and the more I wanted to learn about Japan. I enjoy Japanese food, Japanese movies and anime, Japanese culture, and the Japanese language. In college I minored in Japanese and I talk once a week on Skype with a Japanese friend to help me practice. I hope to become completely fluent.
What will I do while I'm in Japan? Something I love. Two years ago, after volunteering as a tutor to help people learn English as a second language, I realized how much I enjoyed teaching ESL. Getting to meet people from around the world and helping them achieve their dreams and goals is so much fun and teaching English as a Second Language is an exciting rewarding job. So I went back to school and got certified to teach English. Last summer I taught English to high school kids from Europe who were here for an international English summer camp and recently I taught adult ESL classes in Manhattan.
So teaching English in Japan is kinda my dream job. Next week I have an interview to help teach school children in Japan through the JET Program and I'm very excited and almost as nervous. I've worked hard to get to this point, and I'm excited for the next step.
Mt. Fuji in Japan