Monday, May 30, 2011

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu !

Starting over is always hard. No matter how many times you do it, walking into a new workplace on the first day takes a bit of guts. Especially when that workplace looks a little bit like a prison. And 95% of the inhabitants don't speak your native language.

Even so, I've found my transition between schools has gone much more smoothly than I could ever have hoped. The students and teachers at my new base Junior High School have welcomed me with open arms. While not every class goes perfectly, and not every student loves English, by and large the experience has been very positive.

I think this is partly because I know a bit more about how the schools and classes operate than I did last year at this time. My Japanese, still not strong, has also improved to a point where I can make decent small talk with any kid who feels up to chatting with this crazy foreigner who has invaded their classroom. As well, my "entertaining Japanese school children" shtick has also improved.

I've made it a point to get a bit more involved too, popping by the ping pong and kendo clubs with some regularity. I have played a few games of ping pong, but haven't made any attempts at crossing swords with the kendo kids. Humiliation over a table tennis game is one thing, but those bamboo swords look like they'd leave quite the bruise!

The 2nd years, about the same age as an American 8th grade class, seem to form my biggest fan club so far. One impossibly cute girl can not see me in the halls without a high five, and one of the boys will always make me stop for a quick conversation. I've even got him saying "what's up?" instead of the omnipresent "How are you?" and it's "I'mfinethankyouandyou" reply.

The new school is a bit larger than Miyagi, with an extra class per grade I have 3 1st year classes, 4 2nd year classes and 3 3rd year classes, certainly enough to keep me busy. I don't have a dedicated computer terminal this time around, which keeps me a bit more focused on work, but can make days with no classes really drag.

The new elementary schools are also quite nice. I'm proving quite popular with the 3rd and 4th graders for my acumen at tag (called onigokko here) and piggy back rides. Though of course when playing tag, I seem to find myself "it" rather often. For all the frustration and occasional hardships that come with this job and lifestyle, getting paid to make kids laugh and smile, and sometimes speak English, isn't all that bad at all.

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