Monday, August 29, 2005

first day

all in all i can say that i had a succesful first day experience at the Ogimi junior high school. I had three classes today, two 2nd graders and one 1st grade class. In elementary school kids go through 6 grades and then 3 grades in junior high school and i believe 3 more in senior high. So a 1st grader in a junior high school is on the average 12 years old. In Japan, kids are not asked how old they are, they are asked in what grade they are in. School is everything--they inhabit it almost the entire year. Kids get to school around 8:00am; they have meeting with their homeroom teacher around 8:15am and then there are 20 or so minutes for them to hangout in their homeroom until the first hour class starts at 8:50am.. that schedule may change daily. There are two schedules my school follows: the A schedule allows for 50-min classes and the B schedule is for 45 min classes. The type of schedule is chosen depends on the activities that have to happen after school. Or so is my understanding. Right now all junior high schools are in the midst of preparing for a Sports Day, which is a huge event, and they stay after school to practice and i am told that certain classes during the day might be canceled as we get closer to the event in a couple of weeks to allow for more practice time.
but back to my first day. The students are generally excited to meet me, but are reserved, as is understandble with meeting any new authority figure (although, honestly i don't know how much authority i really have). Some kids have already seen me around the school in the last couple of weeks, but most i met for the first time today. The 1st graders were more enthusiastic and outspoken then the 2nd graders. The introduction plan was generally boring. I stood in front of the class and told them about myself with the help of visual aids (pics of family and friends and milwaukee i put together on friday). Then it was recapped for the students by Chinen sensei in Japanese, and students were then allowed 5 minutes to review their own introductions. Before the summer holidays they were given a worksheet to fill in the blanks for "My name is:...My favorite food is:....My favorite sport is:....My hobby is:... I like:....." It turns out that most kids like basketball and their hobbies are "games" and they eat nothing but apples. :))) A few students took the initiative and looked up actual answers and it was awesome to hear a student say that his hobby is "taking pictures" or another student say that he likes "grilled meat" and some girls found a way to say, "i don't have any hobbies". that cracked me up the first time i heard it, 'cause i don't have any hobbies either. :)
then the students were supposed to ask me questions, but it was like pulling teeth getting anyone to ask anything. I think in general they were afraid of mispronouncing any words in the questions they formed. From what i understand, they don't do a lot of communication activities in junior high school, so no wonder they're intimidated by an english speaker. But a few were brave and the questions were good. My last class, 2-1 (2nd graders, 1st group...in russia that would be 2A), were really fun, actually and asked quite a few good questions. I even got asked whether i had a "special boyfriend" and whether american kids wear braces.

at the end of the day there was a teacher meeting, but i spent that time working with speech contest students. Teacher meetings will be entirely lost on me; i foresee being told of what is happenning 5 minutes before it happens, and i'm accepting that. I do know, however, that tomorrow morning i get to give a short speech of introduction to the entire school. I'll be reading it. :)

Although amusingly enough, i am learning japanese words here and there, so there is progress being made and i'm looking forward to understanding a 10th of what is being spoken.

Went to a mall today to get an air con. The suckers are expensive and the installation is not cheap either. The whole thing is costing me 500$ and will be installed on Wednesday...hopefully. there are rumors of a typhoon approaching the islands, but it might be that it will bypass the main island and go for the islands near Taiwan.

i have also been wondering about the power of packiging. What will make me, a person who can't read a lick of japanese, buy a certain product versus another one? And i'm a sucker for labels to start with; give me the funkiest looking bottle with the most colorful or imaginatevely designed label and i will pay that extra 200 yen to have it. but seriously; advertising is everything for me right now, and i can't even read it. i do like the fact that most japanese items will have pictures on them of what its intended use is; so that's been saving me so far.
however, i did buy something that is not yoghurt but reminded me more of sour cream that's been watered down.. so it had to go down the drain. I'm still on the lookout for yoghurt.

i've got to get these blogs to be slightly shorter, eh? some new pics are up on the fotki page and check out Craig's blogspot--he's got a few pics of what an awesome archy site looks like (i'm so dang jealous) and a pic of yours truly.

cheers

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