My classmates at St. John’s College were nice and friendly. In the first lesson of the course, the teacher showed a number of slides of important paintings in art history and explained them.
The next lesson was drawing. Our teacher put an old bicycle in the middle of the classroom and told us to draw it. He corrected my rough strokes and showed me how to outline an object with a pencil. After we finished, he turned the bicycle and told us to draw it again on the same paper. After that, he moved the bike once more and told us to draw it again. He did not explain what he was trying to do, nor did I fully understand what he was saying in the class as I believe my English was still not sufficient to understand everything he said. But I started to figure out what he was trying to do when we were drawing the third image because the drawings began to appear as a completely different object.
After we finished our drawing, the teacher showed the drawings done by all the classmates and asked the class whose drawing was the best. And then, he picked my drawing and showed it to the class explaining that my drawing appeared to look like something else, not a bicycle, and that was what he wanted us to achieve. I was again a little embarrassed and also surprised that he chose mine as an example for the other students. As I mentioned earlier, there were 40 students in the class and I was the only non-Irish student. And the work he chose as best was the one by the non-Irish person. While he was explaining by showing my drawing in the class, I felt that the atmosphere in the whole class cool off and become silent. I became a little uncomfortable as I felt that I might annoy or insult other students by creating my work in future lessons.
I might not have been right and how I felt may have been just my own perception based on my negative experiences in school in Japan – I was not used to getting attention in front of people for positive reasons. Maybe they had become quiet because they were just listening to the teacher. But, after that experience, I felt I would feel not so comfortable doing my best in future lessons. It was because I wanted to avoid getting the whole class’s attention. But I thought if I wasn’t going to do my best, it wouldn’t be worth taking the course. I would not be able to learn what I really needed to from taking that course.
All things considered, I was at least satisfied to know that I already had the basic skills needed in fine arts and that could get me ahead of others even outside Japan. I attended the photography, sculpture and jewelry classes for just one lesson each and I did not go to the college again after that.
Until I attend St. John’s College, I had never had any particular experience or situation where I felt I was better than anyone else in my life and I had never thought I had something really to be proud of. So, it was a new experience and discovery. Although my teacher encouraged me to continue attending the course, I was more interested in working in Chinese restaurants and saving money at that time. So, I made that more of a priority and left the school.