Tuesday, November 22, 2005

sensei to the rescue

kyou wa kayoubi desu.
today's tuesday.

and today i complited my first test for the CLAIR Japanese correspondance course. I cheated once when i changed one of the counting suffix answers. I didn't bother learning all of them, but the one i knew "-hon"--counter for long, thin things--i changed, 'cause i didn't notice that there was a number associated with the blank to be filled in.
So because it was 8 pencils.. the suffix change from -hon to -pon..
ok.. so this probably made sense to three people...but oh well..
i feel like i've accomplished something by taking the test, 'cause even though i am not yet speaking, i at least know things already and can start forming sentences in my head, and that's gotta count as a start.

another accomlishment of the day and the reason for today's title
-today we had a short day; after lunch and cleaning time the entire school went outside to pick the remaining shikwasas and to rake around the trees. At the beginning of the day i was feeling a bit useless. I have been gone exactly a week, and today i find out that two of my classes were cut because of the shikwasa picking activity and i don't have to attend the third class of the day, 'cause they'll just be getting the mid-term back and i am not needed.
a bit of a downer to tell you the truth.

but the redemption came when i went outside to help 3rd graders with the picking. As any teenagers will and these are no different from 13-4 year olds around the world, the kids kept getting off track; this mostly involved throwing the tiny, green fruit around in attempts to catch each other off guard.
I laugh it off and go on picking the bitter, lemon-like fruit. Half-hour into the picking process, a shriek explodes through the staunted, bush-like trees. I run to the source, a 3rd grade girl whose loud screams are attracting attention from her girlfriends and laughs from her male peers. She runs over towards me.. "sensei! sensei!!" and points toward the tree from under which she just ran off. I expect to see a teenage boy with a sheepish look on his face.
I put on my, "i'm a teacher, i'm concerned..what's wrong?" look and go towards the source of the problem.
The girl, however, did not encounter a thrown shikwasa but a spider, or it fell on her while she was rummaging through the prickly branches of the tree. The spider was now on the ground, large, yellowish and obviously disturbed by the prospect of having to climb back up to his web. I look around, see 3rd graders nodding to affirm that this 2 inch monster is indeed the source of the problem. I grab a leaf, allow the spider to climb aboard and take him towards the track field. After the problem has been rediposited, i check back on Aya, who is now talking frantically to one of her friends, indicating that she is back to normal and probably doing well. I ask if she's allright...if she needs water...she says she's "arigato!" and i move on to more shikwasa picking.
i am a hero! yeah!
i was indeed somewhat useful today.
also, at the moment, while everyone else is still picking shikwasa (alternate spelling, shiquasa) i am in the teachers' office because Noriko-san, our demure accountant, grabbed me on the way to the bathroom and asked if it would be allright for me to stay in the office, because she has to run off and everyone else is outside.
i am fulfilling an important role. i matter!
and tonight is the teachers' party in Nago and tomorrow being a national holiday it should be a good evening.

so i didn't mention how the Mid-year conference went. and it really would take almost too long to go into details.
To put it shortly, we had three days of workshops and speeches, which were decent and fun. We had four nights to carouse around Naha with lots of JETs. As i thought, most JETs stuck to the people they knew, so it was mostly the 1st years that hung out together, but there was some JET intermixing for ultimate frisbee on friday..talent show on wednesday..and of course, an evening at Paul & Mike's on friday....a visit to Naha without a stopover at that establishment is inconceivable to me right now.

interestingly enough, i met a german physicist who is visiting Okinawa for a few days and he read about Paul & Mike's in the Lonely Planet guide for Japan. cool, eh?
the other cool thing about him was that he is from Baden-Wuerttemburg and grew up near Stuttgart and went to school in Tuebingen. I thought it was neat that i met him because i spent 2 months in Baden-Wuerttemberg, lived near Stuttgart (and he actually heard of Mengen) and visited and loved Tuebingen. So we chatted about the famous, crazed poet from there.

the other coincidence of the night was finding out that a 2nd year JET who is originally from Hawaii attended Beloit college (in WI) and took a required writing course taught, at the time, by a first year Beloit professor who is also a very dear friend of mine.

the world is small
and today i am a hero in it

Beastie boys asking me "whatcha want?" in my ear...and at the moment...there's nothing i want.. i could say that i'm quite happy right now.


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