Thursday, September 22, 2005

this will not be brief

so i've been slacking on updating this place. my apologies to those of you anxiously waiting for any and all news on my life here. Please stop biting your finger nails and listen here.
So i've been busy and i figure that's how it's going to be for a while, until i decide to stop spending money and start doing things that are closer to home and don't cost much.
If you've checked the fotki page, then you might have noticed several new additions, including a special folder for events that necessitate separate albums because there are too many photos involved.
So i'll start in the beginning, then, shall i?
Last week thursday, i got a call from my supervisor who urged to leave my apartment, where i was about to cook some chow, and walk across the street to the community center. His english is not that good, but i did make out "turtles" and "ocean." When i get there, i see a party of several children and adults who are checking plastic bins filled with tiny sea turtles. Apparently, they were rescued from the beach as they hatched by a local enthusiast prior to the typhoon of two weeks ago. He let them grow up a bit and decided to organize a "releasing of the turtles" party. He wasn't the only one who had collected them off the beach near my apartment. Several other people had buckets of turtles that they brought with them when we all gathered on the beach.
Here's what a week old sea turtle looks like.

So that was a very unique experience and i'm very thankful to my supervisor for remembering to invite me. It was fun seeing a bunch of villagers gathered around these tiny creatures and the kids were just having a blast, picking them up and running down to the ocean to set them down and watch them scramble their way towards the water.

Friday was an all day rehearsal for the sports fest at my school. I have created a separate album for the sports fest, including pics from the rehearsal and then the execution on Sunday.
The kids worked incredibly hard; i haven't been a part of such a communal experience in a really long time, if ever, really. All the kids' parents were there to watch and quite a few participated in relay races. The PTA was involved in organizing some fun races, and even the high school students came in to volunteer with the background stuff, such as serving the important men and women tea and buiscuits and cleaning up after the event.
I think my favorite part was the Ogimi female dance. I didn't know it was about to happen, but all of a sudden, i was being called to dance with 40 or so women. These were mothers, sisters, aunts of the students and they gathered in a large circle and there were 10 or so who knew the dance very well and the rest of us just watched them as the music played and tried to follow along. It was a very enjoyable experience; the people here are so giving in all kinds of ways that it just makes me wonder how they are this way and how come so many others around the world aren't.
The sports fest was a great time, and i even got to participate by running in a relay and dancing in a folk dance with the 3rd graders group. I am told that i ran very fast, but i keep joking that those 200 meters were all i could run.
The students were exhausted by the end of the day; and some 3rd graders were teary eyed at the closing ceremony because they worked really hard organizing the whole event and this was their last sports festival.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention that students basically ran the whole thing. There were several leaders chosen during the summer to organize the events; teachers were of course in charge of the overall planning, but the lead students were the ones teaching others the events, such as Eisa dancing, Bo fighting, folk dancing, female dance, etc. And during the races, students kept track of the scores, fired the starting guns, and told everyone where to be and where to go at specific times.
So that was very impressive to me, and certainly added a very special charm to the events. Class 2-1 won the entire competition and have a small trophy now in their classroom that will stay there until next year's sports fest.
Here's one of my favorite photos from the fest.

OK. After the sports fest, i drove south, picked up Kelly and Chiye and we headed for Naha by way of stopping at Kerri's in Urosoe, dropping off my car and taking the metro to the Kokusaidori (main drag in Naha). The islanders, Andy, Brett, and Craig, organized this crazy get together and provided a wonderful drink called, habusho sake, which involves putting a live venomous snake into a bottle of sake, sealing it up, watching the snake die and release its poison into the drink. This makes the sake have that very special power of turning a gang of happy JETs into a roudy bunch of gaijin who won't stop at anything to have a bloody good time. There was some dancing, some dancing on the bar, some dancing on the tables, some more drinking, chatting, laughing, picture taking, and just general, crazy time.

Here's a sneak peek at a locked album, if you're a JET reading this, e-mail me for the password.

The rest of the weekend went like this. Saturday, Kelly, Chiye and I checked out the main castle of the Ryukyu kindgom, the Shurijo. For a more detailed description of the history and to look at pics from that day, check out Kelly's site from the links on the right. We got a yearly pass, so i'll be back, when the weather is not so hot and i'm not so hung over.
Sunday, Ben from Higashi-son (he's from Manchester originally) and I went to a castle in the north, called Nakijin-jo (jo stands for "castle") and i have some pics up from that day. Whereas Shuri castle has been mostly reconstructed, the Nakijin castle is basically ruins that have been partially excavated. The outer wall is still intact and very impressive. THe inner grounds have several shrines and a nice paths to walk. It was nice seeing archaeogical digs "in process," they were covered up by tarps and looked like they haven't been touched in a week or two.
Sunday night was the fest at the Okuma resort 15 minute drive north from me. It's a military resort, but once a year they open it up to the whole island and have games, shows, and an Okinawan band. A bunch of ALTs were there and so were almost all of my students, who kept asking if any of the guy ALTs were my boyfriends.

Ok. I'll stop right here, and just say that i had a monday off, and taught on tuesday and wednesday, which went well. Thursday (today) we have off as well, and tomorrow is the speech contest, which i'm MCing..and i'll be sure to tell what happens. So keep your fingers crossed for my two students who have been practicing for this thing for over a month.


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