Sigh. It's only been one week of teaching at the middle schools and I'm already really tired of doing my self-introduction. I've begun lying to the kids... you know, to make my life/America seem a little more interesting. For example, in Florida, people like riding flamingos for fun or when they can't afford a bike. My flamingo is very mean and sometimes bites me when I ride him. (That's what she said?)
Last week was lots of opening ceremony type things. On Tuesday I went to my first school, Takeoka Middle, and dressed up in a fancy suit and gave a really short speech (about 1 minute or less) in Japanese to the school assembly, and that was about it. Had a sort of confusing day in which I figured out things like the bells schedule and how lunch works here in Japan (students eat in their classrooms, serving each other), and got to know my new coworkers. I also sat around and tried to keep myself entertained the second half of that day. Wednesday was my first day of classes and also the official welcome party (or enkai- drinking party) for the new ALTs. The mayor came and got sloshed with us. It was his duty.
;P I only taught Wed, Thurs, and Friday last week, but it was tiring, though really interesting. So far I've been teaching about 4 or 5 classes a day. This might just be because I'm new and need to introduce myself to all the students- but I wouldn't mind down-grading to an average of 3 or 4 classes a day. The students are cute and shy in class, and cute and not so shy outside of class. They're really curious about foreigners, but since I'm a girl, the boys tend to steer clear of me. The girls are the opposite. They like high fiving and touching my hair and I'm often surrounded during the "rest period" (recess, to us). I have two middle schools, and they're about the same in terms of how the students act. When I'm not teaching I'm usually grading papers. I've come across some really awesome/unfortunate/hilarious mistakes in my students' writing. I'm usually not brave enough to photograph the mistakes though, so here is only a medium-funny mistake by one of my students:
I visited an elementary school yesterday. I absolutely loooove elementary. The kids are crazy excited about EVERYTHING and are not yet shy or scared of failing at school, so in class the students' personalities really shine through. So fun. At the end of the day all the cute little kids wanted autographs (this felt a little bizarre) and I had to really exercise a lot of self-restraint in order to keep from trying to steal one of them. They asked such funny questions. They were really sweet and earnest when it came to matters of the heart. My first kiss and stuff like that were topics of interest. They seemed to be concentrating really hard and mulling over what I had to say. Meanwhile, I was deciding which one of them I wanted to kidnap the most. Sigh.
Last weekend was also lots of fun. On Friday, the teachers from my second middle school, Meiwa, took me out for a welcome dinner to this really cool, sort of out-of-the-way sashimi place. It was a "ladies-only" event. Really cute.
Then on Saturday my buddy Ben and I ended up taking a ferry to Sakurajima, the island with the big volcano on it, and walked to a dinosaur park and then an onsen (hot spring bath thing). The park was really kitschy but that's not a bad thing. We went on the swings and a big slide and a zip-line. The hot springs experience was really cool. You have to soap and rinse-off before getting into the big baths, and everything is done in the nude (I should say here that the baths are separated by gender) and it's really relaxing once you're over your initial shyness. I hadn't brought anything with me, since it was all impromptu, but they had all the soaps and shampoos a girl could want. Only a towel did I miss in the end.
And on Sunday there was a very nice boat race in a place called Hayato. The event was sponsored by the Kirishima City International Exchange Society. All these foreigners and locals mix and are put on different boats to race and meet up on an uninhabited island for some bar-b-q and swimming. It was really nice and relaxing. I was put on a boat with a cute Japanese family and got to know the two little girls of the family pretty well. (Sort of. Language barrier and all).
And this week has been more classes, more introductions. Like I said before, yesterday was different because I visited elementary. I like teaching, but I can't wait for my introductions to be done ;P. If you feel like sending me a care-package all the way over here in Japan, please include lots of stickers! All the kids-- youngest to oldest-- love them.
Dat's about it on my end. I hope each and every one of you reading this is doing really well and feeling great. Much love from JapAnnne.