Tuesday, July 20, 2010

3 weeks left

I was a little leery of giving myself 3 weeks after I finished school before coming home but I'm starting to think 3 weeks is exactly what I need. I was afraid I would be bored but now I can pack at leisure and spend lots of time with my friends before I go.

I rode my bike to the beach yesterday and then met Sue, Saori, and Miwa for dinner. At one point they all had their calendars out while we planned multiple events with me before I go back. We're going to karaoke on Friday. Once we realized there are no festivals nearby before I go back we decided to have our own yukatta party here in Tahara. We're going to dress up, go to the beach and set off fireworks and then maybe hit up some more karaoke. (I need copious amounts of karaoke before I return home.)

Today I went to the beach again with my friend Miyuki and her husband. Friday and Saturday my friend Danielle is coming to stay and we are going to try and bike down to the end of peninsula. I might be going to a festival on Sunday in Toyota and my friend Allison also wants to come and stay. I have lots planned with Marie. There is a sayonara party to go to with the Board of Education and I have a meeting with the mayor before I go as well. I don't know why I thought I was going to be bored these three weeks. I'll be lucky to have a moment's peace honestly.

Sue and Saori are even going to take me to the airport the day I leave. This of course means there is no chance I won't be absolutely sobbing when I go but I just feel so blessed to have such amazing friends here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My last day of work was on Friday. I taught four classes, had lunch, gave a speech to the 9th grade and then went home. I really didn't think I was going to cry. I only teared up a little at Tobu-sho, my favorite school two weeks ago. And I didn't cry a single tear at Tobu-chu, Takamatsu-sho, or Okusa-sho.

Each of those schools had short ceremonies where I gave a speech and they presented me with a book where all the students had written me cute little messages that all said the same thing. (Thank you for always teaching me English. Your classes/games were very fun.)

Tobu-chu's student message was funny in that it mentioned the lesson where I talked about the differences between American bathrooms and Japanese bathrooms. Apparently the radical idea of the shower and toilet being in the same room had the most impact in three years.

At Okusa-sho we didn't really have a ceremony but we spent what normally would have been class time playing dodgeball (American rules because I've never quite understood the Japanese version) and then playing water basketball in the pool.

And during none of this did I shed a tear.

Then I gave my very last speech to a group of students who have been with me almost since I got here. Yusuke and Taiki who used to throw themselves on the floor if they couldn't answer "What sports do you play? during the Q&A warmup. When they could answer they shouted as loud as they could "I PLAY BASEBALL!" And the boys in 3A who spent last week asking me to sleep with them. And Koyo whose name tag said "Koyo da yo!" And Sachiko whose English was always very good and whose sister Ayako I taught before too. Touru, Akinori, Rino, Manami...and dozens more whose names I never remembered because I taught 1200 students a month. They presented me with a picture book and beautiful yukatta. I gave the speech in English and then I read it in Japanese. It wasn't until I was reading the Japanese that I started crying.


The last 3 years have been fun. At first I didn't speak any Japanese but you all were so kind to me. Thank you! I studied Japanese hard and you studied English hard and then we could communicate. I had fun talking with you. Soon I'll go back to America but I'll never forget Tahara Junior High.

I managed to only sniffle when I said goodbye in the teacher's room but I cried all the way home. I can't believe I'm really done. I have the sense that I'm doing the right thing even though I don't have anything lined up next but I have really enjoyed my three years here and even though sometimes I could get so frustrated with being in Japan I always had fun with the students.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Would you like to...

This is what I've been teaching to the 9th graders this week and last. P.28 of the New Horizon textbook where Judy asks Shin to go to a rock concert with her on Sunday. They're meeting in front of the station at 1:30. I've convinced most of the students that Judy is really asking Shin on a date. One of my teachers pointed out that Mike and Emi are probably a couple as well since they went on a picnic together in the 7th grade textbook - famous for the line "Oh! My cola!" (Don't worry Emi wiped up the spill with her hankie.)

We tried motivating them by telling them this is very useful English to use on cute foreigners. The unfortunate side effect however is that several of the boys have decided to practice on me. I love my students and there are several of the boys who if I were 14 I would be in love with. But I'm not 14. I'm 28 and their English teacher so when Kazuki asked me if I would like to come to his "Go to bed early party. It very enjoy," I threw my pen at him and told him "No!" and then a calmer "I'm sorry I can't. I'm busy." per the dialogue.

That was last week at Tobu JHS. This week at Tahara JHS I had 2 "Would you like to sleep with me?" 1 "Would you like to go to bed with me?" and 1 creative "Would you like to make a baby?" And I'm only half done with the 9th grade. I didn't realize my last week of teaching in Japan would consist of being repeatedly propositioned by 15 year old boys.

It reminds me of the time I was in a supermarket in Lyon, France and a teenage boy informed me that he had a "big tick." He seemed quite proud and repeated it over and over. I told him he should probably get that checked out by a doctor. At least my Japanese students are using correct English and polite English at that. One thing you can count on the world over though is that junior high school boys are all the same

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It's July 7th - the seventh day of the seventh month - which means it's Tanabata.

Tanabata is a Japanese version of an old Chinese myth. A weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder Hikoboshi fell in love but they never got any of their work done so they were banished to opposite sides of the Amanogawa (Milky Way.) They are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.

To celebrate Tanabata people write their wishes on long strips of colorful paper and then hang them on bamboo poles. The poles are also decorated with streamers and other ornaments. In Tahara lining the Hanatoki-dori there are bamboo poles filled with wishes. The tables at Centfaire where the high schoolers hang out in the evening also have decorations.

I wrote my wish last week at Takamatsu Elementary. The teachers wouldn't let me write it in English so I had to do my best in Japanese. I wrote it in pencil first, then Suzue-sensei corrected it for me and then I wrote in pen. You can see it below. It says raigetsu america ni kaerimasu kedo mata nihon ni modoritai desu. That translates to "Next month I'm going home to America but someday I hope to come back to Japan."

The only thing is that if it rains then they can't meet and they have to wait an entire year for another chance. I'm afraid poor Orihime and Hikoboshi won't meet this year since it was pouring buckets the last time I looked out the window. I hope that doesn't affect my wish because I really do want to come back to Tahara someday. Either way, Happy Tanabata everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

BBQ Party

Happy Independence Day! I celebrated with a BBQ in the park. Actually it was a sayonara party for me thrown by the Tahara International Association but we fixed hamburgers, hot dogs, and threw water balloons so I could almost pretend it was a real 4th of July party.

They advertised the party in the paper and with a flier to the schools so quite a few of my students showed up. I'll see some of them again in the last two weeks of school but the students from Tobu Elementary already had their last class with me so today was our last-last goodbye. I'm really glad we had one last chance to have some fun together.

I think my friend Emiko had more of a structured plan at the beginning but it ended up being low key and relaxed. The water balloons for the water balloon toss ended up being broken before we could play any games with them but with most of the kids soaked they didn't really care. Some of us played the shingo game (also known as Red Light, Green Light) which I taught them how to play in school last year. After hamburgers and hot dogs we made s'mores. At the end they gave me a present, I sang My Old Kentucky Home one last time, and we took a group photo. I had a great time. Throw in an afternoon nap and this could be the perfect Sunday.

BBQ Party
Some of my 3rd graders (and 1 kindergartener)

BBQ Party
We were supposed to do a water balloon toss but the kids broke them all before we could. We had fun anyway.

BBQ Party
Some TIA members cooking up our lunch.

BBQ Party
Eri and Mina making s'mores

BBQ Party
Daichi eating his s'more. Everyone said they were really sweet but delicious.

BBQ Party
Everyone had a great time!