Customers who were curious about the smiling foreign workers ringing up their order at this local konbini can now learn a little bit about what they have in common.

A recent study in Japan estimated that there are over 40,000 foreign convenience store workers in the country. The second largest convenience store chain has even adopted some policy changes to ease the linguistic burden of foreign workers having to use an extremely high level of complicated polite speech with customers.

With the faces of foreigners becoming more and more common behind the counter at these konbini, it seems that at least one branch of a major chain has tried something out to create an immediate sense of familiarity for them with the general public, as documented by Twitter user @kankeri02:

“At a 7-Eleven in Sendai. I wish the number of shops like this would increase.”

This particular branch has hung photos of its 12 foreign workers, along with brief bios, on a detailed bulletin board display. According to the photos, 11 of them hail from Nepal while one hails from China. Under each profile picture are lines stating their hometown, their level of Japanese proficiency (marked with red stickers), their level of English proficiency (marked with yellow stickers), and a complimentary comment from the branch manager, including: “He’s studying physics and will study abroad at Tohoku University,” “She has a manner of speaking surprisingly similar to a Japanese. Her kindness and thoughtfulness stand out,” and “Manners are good. Looks are good. Personality is cool.”

The manager also provided a message thanking customers for their support and consideration to the foreign workers as they learn to adjust to the Japanese language and culture, and invited them to practice speaking English with the workers at any time.

▼ The display even listed some basic facts about Nepal, where the vast majority of the foreign workers are from.

The vast majority of net users were moved by the heartwarming display:

“I was surprised to find out that I had something in common with them the moment I learned a little bit about them. It’s really possible to shrink the distance between people with such a simple idea. I thought that they’re also just normal people who are working their hardest. It’s got to be difficult for them in a foreign country with a different language and culture, so I want to cheer them on.” 

“This idea to see and understand the faces of foreign workers in Japan seems like it could spread to other work places as well. It will promote mutual understanding and empathy.”

“There are lots of study abroad students in Sendai. Working in a foreign country and using a foreign tongue is incredible. So is this shop!”

A few, however, expressed concerns about the foreign workers’ privacy:

“Hang on a second, this is no good. Wouldn’t you be afraid to have your privacy violated like this if you went abroad? On top of that, your speaking would then be judged. Couldn’t they have done it a little differently?”

“I’m also concerned about their personal information being exposed on the net. I get that the store’s not doing it out of ill will, but if it were me I’d feel violated.”

One sentiment that particularly stood out to us is the reminder that people from all over the planet are working hard to achieve their own goals, oftentimes in difficult circumstances. It’s a smaller world than we often think.

Source: Twitter/@kankeri02
Featured image: Twitter/@kankeri02
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