Tag Archives: school

School fest

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October 29, 2011

Jr. High School Festival

Taking the simple stuff and making it fantastic

This is a post that’s been sittin’ on the burners a while, sorry. There’s been so much going on these last few months. The second I can relax, I usually fall asleep. As of right now, I’m going through the last few weeks of classes and it’s wearing me down. I said my last “See you” to one of my elementary schools the other day and I was this close to crying in front of everyone. Giving me goodbye letters was hard enough but then one class actually read them all aloud to me… now that I can actually understand basic Japanese it was like a lovely kind of torture. My junior high kids are going to kill me, figuratively.

Let’s time travel back to the end of October. Also a busy time but full of awesome. My JHS was prepping for this festival. I kept hearing about it but didn’t understand exactly what it was or how it worked. All I knew was that I would be at the school the day before and the day of the event.

Next thing I know, I’m wandering the halls after my classes were finished just looking for trouble. I ended up making paper flowers, connecting paper chain links, giving painting advice, and generally being a huge distraction for the kids. They spent days getting materials together and making all sorts of artsy decorations.

All the stairwells in use for the day had these strips across them. I thought it was really smart way to get an interesting perspective effect.

And of course there were advertisements for the different ‘corners’ around the school. There were areas for snacks and all manner of games. One was a Japanese game show style, another was a gesture comedy show like Who’s Line Is It Anyway.

The opening ceremony had the best banner I’d ever seen come out of JHS.

Next there were a few speech contest winners who presented in Japanese.

One student, a first year, gave her English speech that one speech contests here and also nationwide. Rather impressive.

Next came the singing competition. Each class had to sing a song and there were trophies for the winners of each grade (in Japan, JHS has 3 grades – 7, 8, and 9 but call them 1, 2, 3 years). The trophies weren’t awarded until the end of the day… a few of the 3rd year girls cried because they were upset about not winning. It was little competition, unfortunately. The girls were all evenly matched but the boys were a bit more obvious in their weaknesses.

All in all, it was a lovely day. I felt honored to be a part of it. It gave me a chance to connect more with the students outside of a classroom setting. Some of them open up amazingly when not confronted with a blackboard.

The real surprise is their level of dedication. They aren’t even in high school and they’re more focused and organized than half the folks I knew in college. It blew my mind at first. After a while, I became less jaded and saw some the possible problems that cause and are caused by this high level of dedication. To name one, the conformity dilemma. Nothing wrong with it out right but the suppression of independent thought is a bit of an issue for me. I’ll have to devote a whole post to this topic, however.

Next, I’ll try to get Hiroshima and a couple other posts done before I leave Japan. Now I’m off to add (or distract) my JHS kids during their prep for graduation. I hear we’ll be drawing on blackboards and decorating the whole school for the 3rd years. Why is it so sad!

With love – M

Destination Confusion

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After a little hiatus from blogging, I have returned. There have been quite a few variables floating around and a few have been pinned down recently so I can finally chat about them in confidence. From where I would like to live to where my schools actually are, it’s been a little turbulent.

There tends to be some frustration involved when dealing with people over long distance primarily via email. It has little to do with the people on either end and more to do with the fact that we have to wait till the following day sometimes to get a response. Thankfully, my contacts at Interac have been plugging away at making sure my needs are satisfied as can be. I ask a question, I get an answer. It may not be the answer I was looking for but hey, it could be worse. I’ll do my best to keep the next bits brief.

Shika is my city. Period. I believe my accommodation contact was trying to place me in Nanao (noted on the right side of the map) simply because that’s where they’ve had all the other ALTs previously. It is 45 minutes drive from Shika so you can imagine how far a drive that would be to  the 5 schools noted on the map. My dude is going to look into  finding a Leopalace in the Shika area but I’m not holding my breath. I did my own searching and found nothing. The closet building was in Hakui, about 30 minutes south. Unfortunately, google maps no longer lets me search for アパート which is just weird. Before I could pull up every apartment in Japan that was listed.

Click on the “View Larger Map” to see the actual addresses and such.

What happened originally was my dude gave me a call and we chatted about possibly having me move into one of the apartments that are currently occupied by ALTs that are leaving in April. This was a good idea in theory but like I said, they were all in Nanao and were way more expensive than the Hakui or Shika. Now it looks more and more like if I would like to get a place I actually want, it’s going to have to be on my own. A mightly daunting task, for sure, but a feasible one.

As you can see on the map, my schools are a little scattered. Three are well within acceptable distances (10 min, 17 min, and 23 min) but the two up north in Togi… a bit far. The saving grace is that I can take the cliff/sea-side highway and it’s about 45 minute drive to both schools. That will be just beautiful. The ugly icing on the cake? My base school is the Togi Jr. High. Of course, I mean why wouldn’t it be? It’s okay, I’m not really that bitter about it. It would have been too much of a dream to get the Shika Jr and Sr High schools like my placement guy thought I might.

Oh – and for anyone curious, I was originally just told I had 4 schools. That was it. I had to specifically ask for addresses. I assume they do this because things tend to change sometimes and it’s easier to give you all the information during orientation. But since I’m renting a place on my own, I want to have it reserved BEFORE my butt lands in Japan. In fact I may look at a couple apartments since they’re all so close to each other in the town. And then I sent another email asking that I please be notified should any of my schools change so that I can plan accordingly. Osaka Branch got back to me lightening quick to let me know I had another school (the 23 minute one). I guess it’s a compliment. They must think I’m pretty hot stuff.

The biggest issue now is how to go about getting a guarantor. For those that don’t know, this is something that most all apartment real estate agents require for any foreigner: a native Japanese to co-sign, essentially saying that you aren’t going to take off at a moments notice and are at least somewhat trustworthy. Though I could whip up more glowing recommendations than threads in a shirt… I don’t think it would get me anywhere. This seems to be one of those things in Japan that is simply unbending. Right now, my feelers are out with a friend who works in the state government of Delaware and with a friend in Japan who has recently discovered a fellow JET ALT who found a guarantor through her board of education of her prefecture. Hmmm…

That’s enough for now. I’ll do another blog soon about packing struggles. Since I’m a girl, I’m sure it’ll be unendingly entertaining.

With love – M