Well not a whole lot has happened since the last time. I worked a 6 day work week, burnt out and spent the weekend wallowing in sloth at my house, it was great. I need time like that every now and then, to just sit around and do nothing. That way when I went to work today it almost felt like I had a 2 day weekend instead, except for one of my dollar store alarms not going off on time again this morning, almost making me late again. Got the ‘scruff beard going on and baggy eyes, drinking tasty coffee (read: lots of milk and sugar) from a refrigerated milk carton enjoying luckily enough that days at Yayoi are rather relaxed after I make the lesson plan for the first years that will last about half a month (6 classes, visit one or two a day, at Yayoi twice a week). Last week I used that time to make more lesson-plans for Tatsuno and the tutoring group I am now meeting on Thursdays, and today I am writing this. But anyways enough about my schedule, all I really have this week are crazy student stories! Those are fun. (pictured: student learning how to use a fire hydrant during a school fire drill, assisted by an employee of the fire department. Yes, it's pink!)
I came to realize a lot of my conversations are like the following:
Student: brief pause… “Oh yea!” (Shoots their thumb in their air)
Me: “Alright!” (I shoot my thumb in the air)
Student: now mimicking as their vocabulary has been exhausted “Alright!”
Me: “Good job” with a quick nod.
Student: runs off giggling. I can hear the echo of “good job” in the distance.
Also many students now before I can even ask reply “I’m fine thank you.” Everyone here is “fine” which is alright ☺ every now and then I’ll get different responses like “I am hungry” or “I am sleepy” which is good.
Oh ya I got disciplined last week! Never happened to me before and wasn’t really pleasant. It was from (of course) a simple miscommunication. I guess I had to give a speech Saturday afternoon but didn’t know that and was going to use my perceived free time to attend a Halloween party in Ina. My absence wasn’t kosher so my principal disciplined my vice principal, caretaker and me. (picture: students enjoying the fire drill and the tall foreigner taking pictures like a tourist)
The students I’m tutoring on Thursdays are very good students, in the spring they are going to New Zealand. So to recap last Thursday, I taught 4 classes, got disciplined and did a tutor group. I was so exhausted; I went and got groceries but my motor functions were at the point of me blank staring at products and tripping on myself. Some how a quick beer when I got home sprang me back into action to put a good 3 hours of hard work in. I spent over an hour on my Halloween costume, over an hour fixing my bed (for good this time! I punched at least 15 screws in that wood frame sucker! Bo ya!) and the rest of that time cleaning as the underside of my bed hasn’t seen cleaning for I don’t know how long. The tatami mats are like stained grey from the dust, it’s pretty cool. I had to empty the vacuum twice.
On the subject of my Halloween outfit, I just hope it makes John proud :P (going as a hardcore rider fan! Flag cape, Paper Mache helmet, face paint and all) I didn’t get the chance to use it this weekend as I was too burnt out to finish painting it, it was raining (my excuse) and I just wanted to go to bed. I hope to post more photos of it in the next post maybe and I have yet to try out the face paint to be sure it works. My students will think I’m even crazier but that’s alright, just wish watermelons weren’t out of season so I could carve it up real nice.
While making the outfit I got the idea of emailing The Leader Post in Regina to see if they were interested in Japanese Rider fans, I could make a lesson plan out of getting the students to write words of support for the team in green. They told me that Rider fans are everywhere and the story has to be especially unique or eye-catching for them to consider it, but if the Riders do well in playoffs then the chances increase. I guess I could make a lesson plan regardless, but I like the comment from Jake: “nobody will know who or what you are dressed as, even if you explain.” Haha true enough, but maybe those are the best outfits. Da’ ladies all be like “NANDE sore wa?!?!?” (WHAT is that??)
Oh ya, knock ‘em dead tony boy ;) Green faces are teh hawtness.
Language gap and distractions aside, I taught the Thursday tutor group stuff like what they will be asked in New Zealand based on my experience in other countries “do you like (insert national past time here)?” and stuff like that. In other words I’m trying to teach them to be more polite instead of just saying “no” when they are asked if they like Rugby. As far as other crazy students stories, one class has to make commercials on random items and I gave them a list of questions to fill out. One of my favorite questions for them to answer is “In what country is it illegal and why?” One group put “In Arab because Arab.” I cracked up laughing but they didn’t get when I asked them to explain why, as if it explained itself. That or they couldn’t understand what I was asking; also possible. (pictured: students running from the slow moving fire extinguisher exhaust. Not pictured: them screaming and running even though the wind was going that way and the last 3 crowds ran away in a similar fashion)
We are presenting the “Project Time Capsule” stuff as well and a great idea presented to me was to get each group to form one question about what was being put in the capsule. Ideas varied form sunflower seeds to Red Hot Chili Pepper concert tickets, but a couple groups all chose their old cell phones. One of the more interesting questions one student brought up “which is your favorite email address on the cell phone?” Haha what a mean question. (They don’t do “text messages” here; cell phones have their own email.) Later after blushing the girl responded “my best friend.” The group further inquired after my evil persuasion “who is that?” She looked around nervously at her 3 group members who were looking back at her expectantly. After more blushing and stuttering I suggested she could just say, “It is a secret” and avoided embarrassing anyone (further).
Students stop me in hallway and ask for candy sometimes. One asked for some lunch money the other day, “I am poor! Give me money!” heh if he and his friends weren’t laughing so hard I could maybe lend him a dollar but I don’t want to start anything. My idea of dressing up the next couple days and giving away treats to whoever says “trick or treat” is risky enough.
Speaking of not starting something, a student asked me the other day the thing all JETs keep talking about that makes me nervous. First it started all casual, like “I had 4 classes with you so far” (rough translation) and later she asked “do you know my name?”
Oh man, it has started. I teach 6 first year classes at Yayoi as I mentioned earlier and there at least 40 students in each class, most don’t talk and I saw her 4 times in 2 months. Well after she saw through my ruse of “you over there” and other name avoiding techniques, her head hung and she was very disappointed. Many JETs talk about this moment, as “the time the student stops talking to you forever”. I wrote her name down and made sure to say it later in the day when I had to go and couldn’t watch their basketball practice anymore but at any rate it is just the start of me disappointing many people unfortunately. (I still don’t know the name of the teacher who sits beside me, how embarrassing is that ☹)
Wow I ramble a lot, my “nothing to talk about” sure gets long, I still have lots of student stories that are so all over the place they are hard to write down coherently. Like the student who burst out “Tony I love you!” last week now screams it and runs down hallways when she sees me. Or the other student that wanted to shake my hand and said “touch, touch”. I tried to explain you shake with your right hand and not your left and she was ecstatic to be able to shake my other hand as well. Or the classes Saturday where the parents stood in the back of the room and watched their children in school, I never seen the class that well behaved and organized before they were amazing! The “form groups and work together” command was realized in seconds, orderly and quietly! Crazy stuff, I usually have to walk around the room and make pushing motions with my arms to show that they should group together. (Pictured: me at Craven '07. Just 'cause.)
Oh man! I see Uncle Francis everywhere here! At first no one minded my wave much, but now they ALL stop, pose, and wave back to me just like Uncle Francis does. It is so eerie. Didn’t know my wave warranted so much attention. Also one student started shaking her head no when I was trying to get her to ask a question for the project time capsule. I started nodding my head to combat it, so she started shaking her head faster. Needless to say I won the head shaking war when she bust up laughing at me nodding super fast trying to get her to talk. I won and she spoke, body language does speak loudly sometimes.
My hip doesn’t hurt so much from the marathon anymore, I should get into some sports again, I still have to get my cell phone working though, long story I don’t want to talk about, just annoying as it has been almost a month with no service. Going to dress up at Tatsuno tomorrow (Tuesday) Yayoi Wednesday, then Thursday apparently I am taking holidays to go for my Japanese driving exam (found this out a couple days ago…). Since I am Canadian it should just be an eye exam I hope, I should bring some translations just in case they want me to do more. I am trying to juggle the schedule to make time that day to go to Nagano and get my re-entry permit. (pictured: the siblings and I at Christmas last year)
Another busy week ahead and a flier for some kind of international food day at Kitaaiki village this weekend (same place I went for the kangaroo and crocodile) I need to plan further ahead or else risk being shut down like the Okinawa trip (that one had over 2 months notice and still got a no) I’m not much for planning so I have nothing set, I find it kind of surprising I’ve only left Nagano prefecture once since being here, there really is too much to do, quite positive I won’t see most of Japan in my time here, there are many things I still need to do in Nagano prefecture itself like tour the medieval castle in Matsumoto or tour the Winter Olympic stuff in Nagano city, but I guess I didn’t even see that stuff in Calgary. At any rate there are options and I am trying harder to figure them out, like if/when to visit MoonJu in South Korea. I also got my first of 6 Japanese tests in the mail recently, this one is due first week of December, I got lots of catching up to do, maybe I should be studying right now…
"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." -Neil Peart