I’m with Miss Yoshiko Denogami who has been visiting us over the last few days. In Japan, she is more formally known as Denogami Sensei. (Sensei is a Japanese honorific and a word that is literally translated as “person born before another”. In general usage, it is used with proper form, after a person’s name and means “teacher”. It can also be used as an.address for professors, professionals such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, politicians, clergymen, and other figures of authority).
This very kind, capable and humble lady is more commonly known simply as ‘Deno-san’. She was our son David’s home room teacher when he was an exchange student in Japan over 25 years ago. Since then, through David, we have kept in touch with Denosan and are very happy to welcome her into our home.
Perhaps without realising it, Denosan has had a significant impact on the lives of many people around her.
This story begins with our own family. Denosan made a great contribution to David’s life. He was assigned to her classroom because she was very competent in English. Her kindness and professionalism expanded his interest in Japan and enormously enriched his cultural experience as an exchange student. She and David have kept in touch ever since his school days. We met Denosan on our first trip to Japan and she has remained our friend ever since.
Shortly after David arrived in Japan, his original host mother became ill and he needed to move to a different family. Denosan introduced him to his ultimate host family and since then she has developed a close friendship with them too – the Takemoto Family. In this little story, Denosan has, herself, gained a long term friendship with a new family.
The Takemoto family were very brave in talking David into their home. They had never met a westener before, let alone inviting one to live in their home for ten months. Their knowledge of the world at that time was quite limited, but since then they have traveled and seen much more of the world, including Australia. So, Denosan’s introduction has had a major impact on their lives. David still keeps on touch with his host family and they have been important in his life. They attended his wedding and we feel very grateful to them.
Not just in Japan, Denosan’s influence has also spread to Australia. David’s host sister, Eriko, eventually became an exchange student and lived for a year with a wonderful family in Hobart. We met them at that time and since then we have had a long term friendship with Ris and Steve.
Maybe there are other connections that we don’t know about, but this network of friendships and experiences for which Denosan is responsible, are the ultimate result of one school teacher’s dedication to her student. She has inspired many people and has quietly impacted many lives.
Don’t anyone ever doubt the significance of a humble school teacher in their lives.