Hello Saga folks

Well, good morning, (prior warning, this is a long one, go get a cup of coffee!)

Let me introduce myself. I know many of you, but for those who have no idea who I am, let me fill you in. My name is Sharon Doherty. I'm 27 years old, was born in Scotland, but raised in New Zealand. So, I identify myself as a 'Skiwi' (Scottish Kiwi)....ha ha. I currently live in Ashikari Cho, a small town in central Saga. There is very little in my town. Though, I'm lucky enough to have a post office, bank, convenience store and love hotel all close by. No, I haven't been to the love hotel, nor will I be visiting, so let's not ask Sharon that question. I teach Hoikuen, Yochien, Shogakko and Chugakko. So, everyone from 3 years old to 15 years old. I love my school. I love living in my town, but that wasn't always the case. I've been here almost 18 months now, and I'm currently the DR for the central Saga district alongside Tim and Lee Ann.

I'll tell you a little about my life so far, and how I ended up in Japan. Well, I've lived in New Zealand (NZ) since I was 3. It's a fabulous country, though I've yet to truely explore it. My father is an electrician who has been self employed for over 10 years now. My mother is a receptionist at the main hospital in my city, working with community health nurses. I have one older brother, Ross. He and his partner Vanessa have two beautiful little girls, Victoria and Jordan.

My parents were born and raised in Scotland, but over the years it became difficult for my father to find work. Around 1974 dad received a letter from his aunt who had emigrated to NZ. She said (and I quote, though probably not exactly, but the stuff about ice cream is true!) 'NZ is a wonderful country. There are many jobs and all the houses look like ice-creams!'. So, mum and dad decided to make the bold move to NZ to check it out. Dad quickly found work as an electrician, as did mum (not sure where she worked though). They made friends with a NZ couple who worked at the same company. My brother was born in NZ in 1977. Mum became homesick, so they decided to move back to Scotland. Shortly after they arrived back in Scotland, I was born. When I was 6 months old, dad had struggled again to find work, so he headed to Saudi Arabia to work, where he stayed for 18 months. When he returned to Scotland, I had no idea who he was. Though, I was only 3, so this quickly changed. Ah, now let me say something here about my extended family. My mothers family are protestant, and my fathers family are catholic. This didn't create too many problems for my parents, however it would become much more of an issue when it came to sending Ross and I to school. Scotland has no non-religious schools. So, they would've had to choose between a protestant or catholic school. This was putting pressure on them as it may have divided the family. Also, NZ seemed like a great place with many job possibilities and it seemed like a great place to raise a family. Therefore, they made the bold decision to emigrate to NZ. I can only imagine what a tough decision this would have been. So, they moved to NZ in 1981, two toddlers in tow, and moved in temporarily with the couple they made friends with previously. After maybe 4 months, mum and dad bought a quarter acre section. They still live on that section today. They've subdivided, and we all helped to build the house they live in now, but they're still there! My parents are amazing. They've sacrificed an awful lot for our family.

I had a very happy childhood, running around in my backyard, doing all the normal kid stuff. I didn't really know my family in Scotland. But, one of dad's sisters lives 2 hours away from us, so I grew up with 2 male cousins, and my brother. Not much fun sometimes being the only girl! But, I am so grateful for the life I've had, and my family in Scotland are only a plane journey away. (well actually, many planes, it's about the furthest point from NZ....but lets not split hairs....). So, following in my travelling parents' footsteps I headed on a mini OE (overseas experience) when I was 18. I visited western Europe on a Contiki tour, and stayed with family in Scotland. Since then, I've returned a few times to visit family. Also, in 2001, when I graduated, I lived in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, for 4 months.

I went through kindergarton, Primary, Intermediate and High School in Palmerston North. I even studied Japanese for two of my high school years, and hosted a girl from Osaka for a week. I had a very very strict Japanese teacher, who enjoyed picking on me. I pretty much hated Japanese, and vowed I'd never study it again. Obviously I changed my mind somewhere along the line.....After high school I changed my mind several million times as to what I wanted to do. I did a one year certificate course in Adventure Eco-Tourism in 1996, and that year nearly lost my life when I was rock climbing. I fell about 30 feet down a cliff towards lake Taupo (central north island). I wasn't attached to a belay system, rather we were walking along the 'track' (I use this word very loosely) to the campsite. It was a narrow cliffside track. I was standing on a rock, jumped down to the ground below, and the ground beneath my feet gave way. It all happened very fast, so not entirely sure what happened. But, I'm still here to tell the tale, and I continued to rock climb that day, and had the most impressive bruises ever! Next, was when I headed overseas again for a bit. Then, came back to NZ and studied business at polytech. I then headed to Massey University to study tourism. I yet again changed my mind, and ended up with a Human Resource Management degree in 2001. About a week after finishing uni, I bought a one way ticket to Ireland (because I could) and hopped on a plane. I never found much work there, so headed home after 4 months, and got a job as an Immigration Officer in Palmerston North. I worked there for 2 years, learnt an awful lot about the world, the most interesting being that Afghani men don't actually have to attend their own wedding. If they're having an off day, they send in their brother! What the??!! Anyway, I met some amazing people, and this combined with the stress of my job, and the lack of morale in my office, I decided to apply for the JET programme. I told my boss. He seemed to think I wouldn't last here 5 minutes, so he left my job open. Well, I think I can safely say I've proved him wrong. Now, I have no desire to head back to that job. So, that brings me to now. If you're still reading, well done and thanx!

Well, I'll finish there for today. I'm sure I can bore/entertain you with more stories later. Mum and dad, if you read this I apologise if my tale is not quite accurate! I wrote about what I remember of you telling me.

I'll use a line here from Ollie Olsen, a kids TV presenter from the 80's in NZ.......Keep cool till after school!

Sharon