Thursday, March 3, 2011

Monkey Bars + JHS A Capella = Final Goodbyes

Hinamatsuri Display (Girls Day Festival March 3rd)

I’ve made the final transition from ES to JHS, as JHS graduation is next Wednesday. I can tell which students are happy to leave JHS or to move up to JHS or just to the next grade. I’m quite excited to go through an entire school year as I only caught the final 2/3 of this school year.

Today was my final day at the smallest JHS in Mitake. There are 14 students graduation and from what I was told, they all will be going on to high school (some just don’t know where yet). Since today was my last class with these students…forever…at the end of class I was treated to final thank you and goodbye. Three students gave quick, simple speeches thanking me for teaching them English and for making it fun. After their speeches, they all sang a song. It was amazing how good 14 students can sound without a piano, just a capella. I’ve never had the urge to cry in class, but this was a close call. Just think of 14 students singing just for you, pretty cool huh? I thanked them for their efforts and I spoke on behalf of the 9 years of ALTs they have had growing up, I hoped that all of us ALTs made English fun and interesting. And I know that some of us will have truly left a mark in these students’ lives. Pretty cool. The rest of the day was entertaining, at lunch I hung out with some first grade girls who wanted to test their vision in the “nurse’s” room. Since it is such a small school, the teachers and students are very close. We did some height tests (I was the tallest, go me) and then the eye test. It was funny because I was acing it, while most of them had some issues. I finally had to admit that I was wearing contacts, they weren’t. After lunch is cleaning time. Today, since I ate lunch with the first graders, I helped them clean their classroom. I don’t know how I got involved in this conversation but some of the first grade boys had some obsession with “poison cooking”. I’m not sure if the culture barrier translated it correctly, but when they said poison, I wanted to make sure we were talking about the same thing, so my hands went to my throat and I acted like I was dying (good news: we were talking about the same thing). They kept saying “poison cooking” and I still have no idea what they were talking about.

Yesterday was my second to last time at the tough (sometimes miserable) ES. The best news is that the 6th graders move onto JHS, where I will no longer need to be the leading teacher in that class. I had lunch with the special education kids and I have come to love them. They are 3 boys, two 2nd graders and a 4th grader. They are always a kick and usually talking with them for a few minutes can make a difficult day even better. After lunch I was playing “onigokko” or tag on the play structure. The rules were simple, you can’t get off the play structure or you become it. Well, we were playing and having a great time, until my brain decided to forget about the monkey bars that were attached to the same play structure. I attempted to climb away from the “oni” (the “it” person) and inside of climbing into the air, I climbed into the monkey bars and pounding my head against the monkey bars. Yes, I know what you are thinking, either: that must have hurt or I bet those kids got a good laugh. Well, if you were thinking both, then you were correct. I took a good 3 minutes to sort out my painful head and then resumed the game at a slower speed. This morning I woke up with a lovely knot on my forehead, I’m thankful I have my bangs to help cover it up.

Hinamatsuri Lunch (The Girls Day Festival Lunch). Mixed rice with interesting/disgusting little fish things, ice cream-ish dessert, green tea, milk, seaweed wrap for the rice, BBQ fish, sweet potato/regular potato and veggies mix.

Learning to make mushroom tempura (left) and some egg soup (right) at the Watanabe's

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