Thursday, June 1, 2023
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Todd: So I’m here with Shantel and we’re talking about stereotypes or about images people have about Americans. We’re both teachers in Japan and it’s interesting what people think about Americans. So I want to bring up a touchy topic, guns.

Shantel: Guns in America.

Todd: Yeah, so I have to admit that my students also are shocked when I tell them that pretty much everybody that I know has shot a gun.

Shantel: Yes.

Todd: (laughs) And every family I know has a gun and it’s really shocking when people hear that, but it’s kind of true, I think.

Shantel: Yeah, I think especially since you and I both are from rural towns.

Todd: Rural areas, yeah.

Shantel: But I grew up in a household that had several guns because my father is a hunter, so I think this is a little bit rare, the hunting at least, but I grew up and learned how to hunt along with my brother, and so for me it was, it was really normal to shoot a gun, to know how to be safe with a gun, to know when you can use it, how to clean it, things like this, and I think a lot of people in my town knew, a lot of, a lot of my friends and family members knew how to do it but in Japan, it’s … I if I tell someone that I have a gun in my home in America, the, the look on their face is-

Todd: Yeah.

Shantel: … like horror, scared-

Todd: Yeah.

Shantel: … very confused, why would anyone have a gun? And, I think I can understand because in Japan that is just not the case, guns are not as common or as readily available to the public in general.

Todd: Yeah, and I have to admit like I grew up on a farm and we had, you know, rifles and shotguns and we had them for either hunting or we actually had them for, to protect livestock like animals on the farm, but we never really used them. Well, actually I shouldn’t say that, we could use them for target practice and we would, if we were bored, sometimes we would go out in the field and have, you know, try to hit tin cans or something. That was kind of how we would pass the time. But I have to admit, I was always freaked out when I saw handguns. I didn’t like handguns, I never did.

Shantel: Oh, aha.

Todd: I don’t know why, it just was like, you know, you’d see somebody would have one on a shelf or something like that and I thought, “Oh, wow, that’s kind of weird.” But the rifles and shotguns never bothered me at all.

Shantel: Yeah, no, I actually with that too I could agree because I also at home we do have a handgun and I, for me … Well, maybe for me target practice was not so exciting for me, and so with handguns that would be typically what people would use them for is target practice. And I yeah, I don’t know, I was never really drawn to them either, I typically I enjoyed using shotguns for trap shooting or clay pigeon shooting. And that, that was really fun because it’s like a game, it’s a sport, and it’s the noise wasn’t so loud, so my ears didn’t hurt too much so-

Todd: Okay, so another thing that you know we’re both teachers in Japan, so another thing that I think is shocking for the students is I would tell them that I had a car in high school and I drove to high school starting at 16. So I was quite young and I was driving at 15, and what really shocked them … Well, I’m a, a bit older than you … is that I actually got my driver’s license at high school, I actually had a free class I took and we had a building with like a simulator. We actually got it for free, I don’t think they do it anymore. Yeah, so back in the day, and our parking lot was full of cars. I think that’s very rare in most places in the world, that high school kids drive to school.

Shantel: Yes, yes, I agree and I, just like you, my students too have been very surprised that when I tell them that I started driving. I started a, a little bit later at 15 and a half, 16, but still that is much younger compared to 20 or in Italy it’s 18. So most students or most people have finished high school and then they start driving, it seems and at least in European countries and here in Japan, and so yeah, they’re always shocked and some teachers will ask me like, “Oh, what was it like driving when you’re 16? My daughter is 16, I would never let her drive.” And I say, “Oh, it was okay, I practiced with my parents and I scared them half to death a few times but we, I’m still alive, they’re still alive, everyone’s okay (laughing).”

Todd: Yeah, I know looking back, wow, especially when you’re young. Um, another thing I think that’s really different would be just the, the social relationships when you’re young. So, you know, kids would hold hands, sometimes kids would kiss if you’re boyfriend and girlfriend in public, at school. And I think in Japan that would be very rare.

Shantel: Oh, so rare, oh so rare.

Todd: That would really be risqué, they would really be throwing … , yeah, so their relationships were definitely different.

Answer these questions about the interview.

1) Who grew up around guns? 

2) Guns are more common in ____ areas. 

3) He learned to drive ______ . 

4) Who was driving in high school? 

5) American high schools students can seem ______ . 



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