「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


My friend, the enemy

By Kip A. Cates


It's rare to meet your enemy face to face! But meeting an enemy up close often enables us to break down stereotypes, put aside prejudices and build friendships across divides of language, culture and ideology.

The first enemy I ever met was a Russian from the USSR back in the 1970s. His name was Sergei. He'd been sent to my university on a scientific exchange program between Canada and the Soviet Union. By chance, the authorities had decided to put him in my dormitory.

When Sergei arrived, it was big news on campus. A Russian! A communist! Here in our dorm! At that time, it was the Cold War and we'd all been taught that Russia was "the enemy" and that Russians were "evil."

Sergei turned out to be an interesting guy! He was tall, serious and spoke good English with a heavy accent. His field of expertise was nuclear physics.

On the night of his arrival, we prepared a small welcome party. After the introductions, my friends began asking questions. "Do you have TV in Russia?" "Do you have telephones?" "Do you have cars?" Sergei was stunned. "Are you joking?" he asked. Unfortunately, they weren't! It was embarrassing to realize how ignorant some of my classmates were and how little they knew about the world.

Sergei and I quickly became good friends. He was eager to learn about Canadian society and capitalism. I was eager to learn about the Soviet Union and communism. This led to many late-night discussions on topics ranging from education and history to economics and politics.

It was interesting to watch Sergei adapt to life in Canada. He loved hockey and watched every NHL match religiously, eager to compare our Canadian champions with teams back in the USSR.

He fell in love with automatic umbrellas. At that time, Russia only had umbrellas that opened by hand. In Canada, he was amazed that umbrellas opened by themselves with the push of a button. Western technology!

What shocked Sergei most about our capitalist system was Canadian souvenirs. Every souvenir shop sold Canadian flags. When Sergei looked closely at the labels, he was surprised to see they were marked "Made in China." "Have you no pride in your country?" he asked us. "Is capitalism so corrupt that your national emblems are manufactured overseas?"

Sergei's year in Canada came to an end all too soon. Despite barriers of language, culture and ideology, we learned to trust and respect each other, and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our two very different societies.

Much later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we met up in Moscow. Sergei even visited me once in Tottori. Each time, we reminisced over vodka about our student days in Canada and about the importance of seeing your "enemy" as a fellow human being.



The Japan Times ST: December 18, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版