Tuesday, March 14, 2006


that was one of the vocabulary words today in my 2nd grade classes.
appropriately enough the 3rd graders have left, are leaving, are yet to leave. Don't know which tense to use.
They graduated on Friday. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with cheers, songs, and tears. The whole affair is surprisingly different from any other graduation ceremony i have ever experienced. In the states it seems that we are happy when we pass from one place of schooling to another. We are cheered on and teachers are glad to be "rid of us"...not in any mean spirited way of course, but it is seen as yet another step to something else, something better and more important. In Japan, every step is as important as the one before it or the one ahead of it. Of course, i am generalizing here, but judging from the graduation ceremonies, i might not be far off. students are saddened to leave their junior high school. teachers are sad to let go. the homeroom teacher cried as he called out the names of his 27 students, and they yelled to him to be strong and keep going. The girls shed tears, the boys stayed strong and laughed; one of them cried, though, and it was as surprising to me as to others around him. but no one laughed at him. he was crying and it was understood why, and no one could reproach him of his emotion.
The teachers sang a song to the students, i was one of them, and i didn't cry but sympathetic tears did crawl forward as the homeroom teacher spoke to his students.
They gave growing trees to their mothers and fathers; they walked out of the gym through a passageway made up of cheering underclassmen and teary teachers. They were showered with paper conffeti and given presents and words of encouragement.
it was dramatic and over the top. but it made sense.
School is everything here. it is not just a place for education, it is a place where the primary group resides. students see their teachers and peers more during the week than they see their families. it's not surprising then that they are hesitant to let go.

so much so, that half of the 3rd grade class is right now at school. They are here today because the results of the high school entrance exams came out this morning. unfortunately two students did not get into the high schools of their choice. yet, one student got into the number one high school in Okinawa. so lots to cheer for, and everyone is thrilled for them. In between classes, all i hear are screams of 2nd and 1st grade girls as they encounter a new 3rd grader to congratulate.

i wonder if some of them will come back to school tomorrow and every day until the end of term. i wouldn't be surprised if they did.

Today is also "White Day," the opposite of Valentine's Day in Japan. On White Day women are to receive back the presents they gave their husbands and boyfriends on VDay. As a rule, i am told, men are usually forgetful of all the presents they have received from not only their co-workers but wives as well, and women don't expect much on White Day. Yet this morning all the female teachers at Ogimi Chu found a nicely wrapped box of chocolates on their desks. We don't know who they're from, but we're guessing that the vice principal is behind it.

The weekend was good.
The India crew did a great job for the India fundraiser--thanx to everyone who showed up at Paul and Mike's or gave us contrubutions but couldn't make it. It was a fun night for all and we raised a good amount of money to pass onto the Ananda Marga chapter in West Bengal, India. Thanx, again.

I saw the film, Narnia , on Sunday and loved it. Walked away with a warm feeling of wonder. A good story well told.

and last night watched once again, "He died with a felafel in his hand" and i would highly highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates quirky Australian humor.

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