for lunch today: carrot puree soup (yummy), sloppy joe looking meat stuff with beans (not bad..good sauce), a salad made of tofu dregs and some sort of veggies (reasonably tasty), and a bun. no dessert today. though the Ogimi lunch ladies have been slacking on desserts lately. but we do have a lot of mikans (orange/mandarin) around. 'tis the season, after all.
on friday, Ogimi Chugakko was visited upon by near a hundred teachers and administrators from all over Okinawa. They came to observe lessons and to talk. The school had been in prep mode for over a week for this. There was major cleaning done and lots and lots of posters and scrolls printed and drawn.
From what i understood, this was a conference that takes place annually on Okinawa. A school is chosen geographically, and this is Ogimi Chu's first time. I am not certain whether the topic of lessons and discussion is always the same. This year it was concentrated on showing students how to best make a decision about their future plans. 5 teachers taught five exemplary classes that focused on the subject of future occupation. In Japan, students are not required to attend high school, but attendance of a good/specific high school can be essential to the future plans of a student. Teachers feel that students need to take junior high school and high school education more seriously if they are to achieve their future goals. There is a somewhat high rate of high school drop out; usually (this is all from what i've been explained by teachers) this happens after the first year. Students go to high school, live in dorms sometimes far away from their parents' homes, they get jobs, they have a good time. ONce they start making money, they think that they don't need high school and drop out. Same thing happens in the United States; it's a known phenomenon. In Japan, however, it is probably harder to get back into gear and get back those years that are lost to dropping out. I've been told that switching majors is usually not done in Japan, because when students apply to unis, they apply for specific programs and it's hard to switch. So it must be equally as difficult to be admitted into university/college/technicum if one has lost out on all or some of high school.
Jobs are scarce in Okinawa. It is the highest subsudized prefecture in Japan (some of it is because of the bases). The bases are a whole different topic and i am not yet ready to tackle it on this blog. It's a tough issue, and it also effects us, ALTs. Certainly not in the same respect as it effects the Okinawan population, but i just want to say, that we are not ignorant to it.
I also learned this weekend that the divorce rate is on the rise in Okinawa, predominantly among young couples.
The teacher who explained this to me used interesting gestures. Pinky seems to indicate a woman and a thumb, a man. Hooked together they represent a relationship or marriage. Unique.
She tried to explain to me that when women don't work, marriages in Okinawa last. But now women are working, they are bringing money home and they are leaving their husbands. There must be deeper cultural reasons for this but the effects are very visible among the students. She pointed out at least two students in her homeroom class whose parents are separated, and one of them is a bright student but always gloomy.
Friday night, walking along the 58 with two good friends. It's 4 am and we meet two Okinawan women. We struck up a conversation. Turns out one of them is moving to South Carolina (or was it North) to be with her new American husband. The other is a single mother who works on one of the bases. She says she likes it enough, it's a decent job. She said, as a single mother, it's the best job on the island because it provides good pay and great benefits.
So there you are. It all rolls into one person. All issues of Okinawa that i thought about this weekend brought out in one conversation with a random stranger.
The weather is gorgeous and i have nothing to do at school, except study some Nihongo and read a Roshia no hon. Wish i could just go outside, though.
Oh, and as a side note. It is very difficult to get clear directions in Okinawa.
very very very very difficult. near impossible, actually.