So I'm in Global Buddies, a program put on by my university's Study Abroad and Office of International Programs. Basically, we are buddies to foreign exchange students who are on our campus for the Fall Semester. I have a Korean buddy named Hwamok, a junior in Political Science at Youngsei University in Seoul (University of Seoul's rival of course). We had met earlier in the week and have hit it off, mainly because I was the first foreigner to speak to her in my limited Korean. We are both the 3rd of 4 children (two brothers, one sister) and both like 2PM. I am teaching her American slang and she is teaching me Korean slang. Also, as an active member and Parliamentarian in Black Student Union, I am taking her to a lot of our events.
But to get to the point, we were at The Mill restaurant for a Global Buddies Dinner where some of the American buddies met their foreign buddies for the first time, many from China, Korea, Japan, France and Germany. I talked to two American buddies, Jessica and Adri (who I think was a woman of color) as we were waiting for our buddies to arrive. We hit it off and made plans to take our buddies shopping at the mall as an event.
Basically, I met my buddy and wandered around meeting some other Korean buddies who were slightly shocked I knew so much about their culture, music, movies, and customs even though I told them I had been to Seoul. They all wanted me to go to their Universities when I told them I plan to study abroad there again next spring.
After my buddy had to leave to go to a Christian student organization (even though she is NOT Christian, and the White girl she was going with told her that one of the only ways she could learn English better and meet friends was through the Bible. I told her to go once, then never meet the manipulative, ignorant hussy again), I moved over to talk to this Japanese girl, Hanura, who was talking with Brad, this really sleazy, privileged White man who was eyeing her. She and I hit it off as well, learning that she is from Tokyo and that I went to Kofu 5 years ago when I was in 8th grade. Brad was kinda shocked, telling her he was surprised that she was talking so much as she was really quiet when they went to Chicago. She claimed she was tired. I also got to meet these amazing Chinese girls as well as another Japanese girl, Ayaka.
Then he and this other really creepy, socially awkward White man who I guess was also taking Japanese invited us to this Japanese Student Association meeting for Japanese majors, which I thought was legit because my friend Jane is a fourth year Japanese Language major and is in it, and I had gone to a Sushi making night. I also decided to kill time because it was 20 minutes til my Black Student Union Executive meeting.
So when we got to the building, the Chinese girls wisely left and it was me, Ayaka, Hanura, and these two white men. We go up and enter the meeting and it is nothing but 4 other white men who were straight up salivating at the fact they had real live Japanese women in their midsts. I was not comfortable at all, and neither were the Japanese girls.
While these men were talking to each other, clearly excited over this new prospect, I continued to talk to Hanura and Ayaka. I related the time I spent all my 100 yen on the picture booths that are popular there. They agreed and Hanura proceeded to take out her agenda book that had her pictures in it. Then Brad comes over, takes it and looks at it, and then gives it back to her. Uh, Ok? Then he fortunately moved to the other side of the table.
I took out my phone and typed "you can leave with me if you want"and they nodded. I was NOT going to leave them alone with these men. It was 8:30 and we stood up and said it was time to leave. The members agreed and said that it was a slow night and there were usually more people. We all got into the elevator and the poor girls were huddling in a corner, looking uncomfortably down at their feet, holding each others' hands. The creepy guy was like "why are you guys in the corner, there's plenty of room". I told him we were fine.
When we exited the building, the Japanese girls grabbed my hand and we were like a couple of Japanese school girls skipping down the street. But these men, Brad and the creepy guy who are both in the program, kept following us, trying to awkwardly start a conversation with these poor girls and would probably have kept following them if I was not there. The crazy thing is, they were parked on the other side of the Pentacrest and were clearly trying to get at these poor girls, who were way too polite to say "Fuck Off". I made a decision to take them to the Memorial Union where my BSU meeting was being held in order to get them away from these men, and then get them on the bus to their dorm.
As we were getting closer to the Memorial Union, I grabbed their hands again and I told the guys "I'm taking them to meet my friends, have a good night", in a definitive tone and walked them across the street. The guys were really disappointed-they got the hint- and mumbled good night.
As we were now alone, the girls thanked me. I said, "There was no way in hell I was going to leave you girls with those creepy white men who see you as a docile stereotype. No way. You do not have to thank me at all." The crazy thing is, they were actually warned by their advisors in Japan to stay away from these types of White men. Yes, their reputation for stalking poor Japanese girls precedes them that they have to warn Japanese women IN JAPAN to watch out for these men.
Since my friends- beautiful Black women who also compose BSU's exec board- had not arrived yet, I took Hanura and Ayaka upstairs as the Black Greeks were putting on their information session for those interested in joining a Black Fraternity or Sorority on campus. So it was me guiding these two shaken up Japanese girls into this event to meet some of my friends...and they loved it. They felt very comfortable there and were really fascinated to see the Black Greeks strolling and doing their signs and calls.
I explained to them what the Black Greeks were and their traditions. "Do they do this every week" Hanura asked.
"No..." I said. "But if you guys want to come to Black Student Union events, it is very much like this. We watch movies, do cultural events, watch the football games at the Afro House, plus free dinner on Sunday since the cafeterias are closed."
They were thrilled and I told them I would definitely let them know what was up. I walked them across the street to catch the bus and we exchanged numbers. I hugged them and told them to have a great night.
I put this up as my facebook status, and one of the Chinese girls I had met earlier, Mary, responded and said "you are Hero, you are Angel for saving those Japanese girls!! He is terrifying all asian girls...creepy..." I told her that if they bother anyone again, I will tell the Program organizers because these girls are in a foreign country and I will not stand by as they are allowed to be made to feel unsafe and uncomfortable. The ironic thing is, we were given pamphlets at that told us how to make our buddies feel comfortable. Clearly, not being a sexist, objectifying ass was not on it.