Thursday, September 23, 2010

Amander? No, Amanda..."Ah-man-duh"

Self Introductions
Okay, this may sound like a rant, but after giving your very own self introduction 35 times in 12 days, the equivalent of 26 hours and change, it does get boring. Here’s the “bad” new, I still have to give it 19 (or so) more times! Ah, the wonders of being a new ALT at 6 different schools. It’s not that I’m trying to complain, but I honestly feel bad for the students because let’s be honest, how excited would you be to give your 5th self-introduction of a day in a hot classroom talking about your hobbies or favorite foods using very basic English? (that’s what I thought). In all of this, there is always the highlight of each class when usually one kid either makes a comment or just asks a completely random or funny question, and that makes my day.

Silver Week
This week is known as Silver Week in Japan. In May, there is Golden Week (which basically celebrates children). Silver Week honors the elderly. So this week (9/20-24) I have 3 days of work and 2 National Holidays! On Monday, the 20th, it was Respect for the Aged Day and today (Thursday, 23rd) it is the Autumn Equinox Holiday. Let’s just say that I’m really liking 3 day workweeks! I spent my weekday holiday getting some errands done that I’ve been putting off. I really wanted to golf (I still haven’t!!!), but the crazy-ridiculous-scary-beautiful-noisy-obnoxious rain, thunder, and lightening stopped that plans. Over the next three months, I have 3 more National Holidays (1 in October and 2 in November) and then, I’m very excited to my 19 day trip to Hawaii in December!!!

Oh yes, School Lunch
I’ve been meaning to make a picture of the school lunches. Today was fried pork (I passed), some carrots and other veggies, miso soup, white rice, a carton of milk, and a slice of a Japanese pear. I call it a Japanese pear because the pears here are quite different from what we have in America. It’s a cross between an apple and a pear, think the crunchiness of an apple mixed with the taste of a pear. The subtle differences in fruits is quite intriguing, but I must say, I definitely prefer the Japanese pear to the ones in America. Back on track, school lunches in general. I don’t really remember school lunches in elementary school or middle school, because I’m pretty sure I brought lunch most of the time. So, I’m probably not the best judge on comparing the differences. However, earlier this week I was asked by a fellow teacher if I liked the Japanese school lunch (in English). Now, since I’m always “on” or always being interrogated (or having my words taken for what is and isn’t said), I must stay on my best behavior because as I have learned, word travels fast (super fast). So, I said, yes, then I asked her if she liked the school lunch and she informed me that the reason she became a teacher was for the school lunches. That my friends, struck me as odd...The main reason being the Japanese culture in general isn’t very humorous, they don’t joke and don’t provide or take sarcasm well, or even at all. So, the fact that she wanted to become a teacher because of the lunches, well, yeah, I guess to each their own!?

Amander? No, Amanda

The quirks of my job. This week, a fellow teacher (actually the Japanese Teacher of English) tries to use my name in the English pronunciation form. However, when he does this, it turns out as Amander. I don’t know why or where the confusion comes from, but oh well. Who knew that a nickname from college would turn into my Japanese name. In Japanese, my name is written アマンダ and it sounds like ah-ma-nn-da, so it’s really not far from the English pronunciation, but somehow the “a” at the end gets exchanged with “er”. Aside from my mispronounced name, the varying levels of English spoken by Japanese Teachers of English is astonishing. You would expect some sort of basic conversational skills with certain teachers having more experience with English. I would expect that every teacher of English would have spent sometime abroad in an English speaking country. I guess the requirements are just different here, and I’m not sure how fair it is to the students who deal with great English speaking teachers, and weaker English “speaking” teachers.

Here are some pictures from the weekend of September 11th-12th, I took the train for about 90 minutes and a lovely fellow ALT picked me up for the next 30 minute drive to Ikeda. We spent the afternoon at the river and having a good ol' BBQ Japanese style!

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