we don’t need no education

August 23rd, 2006 by Steph

Everything has been pretty wonderful and great for the last week, except for a repetative stress wrist injury that’s surfaced, which has kept me from telling you how wonderful and great everything has been.

Monday was the first day of school at the commercial high school I’m based at. I met the entire student body at the school assembly… during which I had to give an introductory speech in Japanese (!). I started out with a little shout out to each grade level (“where my ichi-nenseis at?”) and everything went pretty smoothly from there. Sure I didn’t know where to sit or when to stand, but it all worked out in the end.

After the assembly (at which I got to hear the school song! Do we even *have* those any more?), a reporter from the local newspaper came to interview me. Noshiro only gets new ALTs (assistant language teachers) like every 3 years, so I guess it’s big news. The reporter asked me what I expected, and I could only reply, “I expect to be surprised by *something*”. Not what they were looking for, perhaps. I was also asked what I thought of Noshiro… you KNOW there’s only one correct answer to this… luckily, I didn’t feel like I had to lie. People have been so friendly, and I feel right at home in the teacher’s lounge. Probably because I am still blissfully ignorant about all of the atrocious faux-pas I’ve been committing. And it’s great to be in an area with so much natural beauty. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how fierce the winter is going to be. You can tell that the rainy season is approaching, as we are starting to get storms and appear from and disappear to nowhere. As my fellow teachers here insist, “typhoons are fun!” Unless you’re a mamachari bicycling fool like myself. I’ve got to get a car before the sky falls on my head.

The head English teacher here at the high school has been quite approachable and friendly. He translates the gist of all the speeches for me, including the teacher’s room meeting that we commence with every morning. Yesterday, he had some literary questions for me, as he just finished The Alchemist and One Hundred Years of Solitude (in English, of course). I am very impressed… I am still trying to get through the Japanese children’s story “Peach Boy” (without much success).

I eat at the school cafeteria, which is a bunch of old ladies slinging noodles around. It’s got great variety and even tastes pretty good, which is a relief after eating for a week at the Board of Education, where food options are a bit more… limited.

We’ve got wireless here in the teachers’ room, which is pretty sweet. Thank god, because I’ve been informed that I pretty much will never have any classes on Monday, so I need to keep busy somehow. On the up side, it should make it easy to take 3 day weekends whenever one of you gets your butt over here to visit!

Sports are huge here, so I’ve revived my dormant excitement for volleyball. Sports Day (really a week) is coming up at the end of September, and I’ve already been recruited for the teacher’s team. It’s been like a decade since i’ve played seriously though, and I am now an old, old, woman (as those in Ho-asogli can verify), so we’ll see how my body puts up with the abuse.

Classes have been going pretty well, although the students waver between totally silent/sleeping and chattering nonstop in Japanese. But I love their energy and I am enjoying interacting with the class. The classes are so big here (35+) that instead of the usual team teaching between the ALT and Japanese Teacher of English (JTE), there are 3 of us all together (me and 2 JTEs). I am also “in charge” of an English club which meets once a week after school. It seems this is just really an excuse for students to get together and chill and eat food, but hey, I’m good with that. Bring on the pancakes, people! there is also a recitation contest coming up, where the students read passages in English from wherever. I’ve been enlisted to help 2 students with pronunciation… which is harder than it sounds.

2 Responses to “we don’t need no education”

  1. sha curington Says:

    i want to visit, but only if i can have pancakes.

  2. Tsuneya Murasaki Says:

    I think, natives English speakers should teach right pronunciations, how to move the mouth to create passable English.

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