Tuesday, August 30, 2005

School starts again tomorrow

Gosh, it feels like it's been forever since I taught a class. Really, it has probably been more than six weeks. And then when you consider that the first week was spent cleaning my apartment and taking fellow tokushima jets on a tour of kamikatsu and the prep for that, plus four weeks of craziness with Tom (and Alex, too), there is just so much stuff that has happened since the last class that I taught. Now that I think about it, there was also that day of American students visiting the school which may or may not have happened before I taught my last class last term. And then since Tom left a week ago today, I have gone to a barbeque at the beach, sold my car (driving three hours to drop it off on its last insured day) and read a quarter of that harry potter book I started so long ago (250 pages in japanese is so mean feat, yo).

And now I see that my vacation time is drawing to an end, and tomorrow it's back to the grind, as they say.

But I think I have had it better than some of my students.
Of course many of them come to school in the summer weeks (but not the two weeks that surround o-bon) to do their club activities and get ready for the upcoming 運動会 (un doh kai). undohkai = sportsday/wide game day/activity day or something. So for them that is fun. Perhaps a downside is they need to wear uniforms, but there are uniforms and outfits for so many things in this country that I'm sure they don't notice it as much as a western kid would. And the upsides are many: they get to get a free ride on the schoolbus to meet up with their friends, rather than a two hour bike ride accross town and up hills, they get to play organised sports with many friends, and they get to plan for their team cheers for the undokai. Well, that last one would be fun for me, if I was a student.

But somewhere in there the third year students had a test. Yes, a test in the middle of summer break. And don't forget the homework. This is what happens when summer lands between terms one and two instead of after the last and before the first. The upside of having the school year like that is getting graduation/free holiday/entering school at the time when the sakura are in bloom. Spring really is Japan's best season. The opposite of home, where it is the dirtiest (read: worst).

My only obligation this summer has been to help out with the speach competition entrants. There are four of them: Hiroki, Ayumi, Misuzu, Eri. The latter three were also in the Awa Odori troupe, and were possibly the most talented aside from the leaders. I digress. Often. When I have been at the school helping them sort out pronunciation, rhythm, pace etc was when Tom got to sit at my laptop typing up his blog and so forth. The day before yesterday (Monday) I came in and Masui-sensei (the English teacher I work with) couldn't make it. We did do some practice, but it has gotten to the point where all they need to do is memorise it better. So we all ended up talking. They asked me stuff like why I came to japan, why I studied japanese, why tokushima, et cetera et cetera. Normally these are questions I am tired of, but when it is my students who I already love but get so few chances to properly chat with, I really enjoyed answering. They asked me if there are any students I haven't chatted with outside of class yet... I couldn't think of anyone, but maybe in the first years? I try to talk to everyone at lunch hours if I can. They told me that sometimes they all get intimidated when I come into the room to eat lunch with them. As though they have to speak English to me. (This conversation was 95% in Japanese).

Then talk moved on to ALTs in kamikatsu that they remembered. Waaaaaay back in the day was a girl called Claire, from somwhere in Europe, they recalled, and Brad (maybe only at the elementary?) another guy from Winnipeg who was "as big as a bear, really scary." After Claire and Brad was a girl called Chris, then Brennan, then me. I was kinda shocked at what they said about Brennan. "We felt like he didn't like us." "He never talked to us." "There were no tears when that guy left, it was just like 'have a nice trip... next!' " At least I can feel confident that they won't say anything like that to me. It kinda puts me at ease about how much Japanese I have been speaking. On the one hand, they would have been forced to speak more English with Brennan, but on the other hand, they maybe didn't want to speak with him so much. It was very reaffirming in a roundabout sort of way.

I remember that for the three months or so before I found out where I was going in Japan, I was regularly praying asking God to put me in the right place, the best place for me to be. And Kamikatsu has definitely been the answer to those prayers.

Yesterday and today's speech practices were cancelled to give the four kids some time to finish up the rest of their summer homework. They are working harder than I have been. When I haven't been reading harry potter or manga (Bleach and HunterXHunter) I have been playing final fantasy IV, VI, Star Ocean, and a little of Hourai High School on my snes emulator. three of those four have been in Japanese. (not star ocean). So technically I have been "practicing" my Japanese, right? In truth it's little more than entertainment at this point, I don't really learn anything from it anymore. But it's fun, and it makes my vacation just that much harder to say goodbye to.

It's been a really good summer.

I have wondered if I am getting a little more introverted, or maybe if I am just needing balance, but I actually felt a little relief when Tom left. It was kind of like "aaah, that was fun, but it's nice to get back to my normal rhythm." that kind of relief.

And this whole not having a car thing has been fairly mendoukusai. It makes life so much slower. On the flipside, it has confined me to my apartment and places within walking distance, forcing me to actually slow down and do the needed relaxing before school starts. So I can't really complain, yet.

So now I wonder, do I need to write my own massive entry about the summer vacation in detail?


At 10:25 a.m. PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew, I thought I would post a comment because no one veer does - sorry it is just your dad. I mthink thr purpose of the blog is to eliminate long entries. This short description would probably do most people- unless you weant to higloght some visits i.e Hiroshima or Tokyo.


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