listening to: Vanessa Mae
the end of the school is upon us. tomorrow morning we will have a closing ceremony and the students will be free to roam the village streets for 2 weeks. i expect that some of them will come play at the school during the break. the school will be open because the teachers are required to be here during that time. this vacation time is used for staff rehauling. at our school we are only losing one person--the vice principal. and that's sad, 'cause he's wonderful. a really smart man with a really warm personality. when i first got here Gabrielle pointed him out and said, "doesn't he look like a giant teddy bear?" and that image has stuck with me and is right on the money. the new vice principal will be arriving from the island of Iheya, and i hope he's as computer savvy as Kamayama-san is.
on Saturday, OgimiChu's teachers and administritators will be partying in Naha city as a way to say "goodbye" to the departing staff members (singular in our case). The party is a big deal and all schools have them. Other ALTs have been torn between several parties from all their schools, but i have it easy--one little school, one party.
it's been hard to sit down and start this blog. i've been recently contimplating the reasons why i came here and whether any of them have been justified so far.
i am not complaining or regretting--far from it. just trying to take stock of all that has happened in the last 7 months. and it really has been that long already and it's really hard for me to believe it. feels like i just started here. actually it feels like that every day.
so i always have the dilemma of what to write about. i form entries as i drive from one side of the island to another, but they don't always make it here. like my recent fascination with the Japanese phenomenon of high suicide rates and child self-seclusion known as hikikomori . If you're interested for more info Google it .
am still reading up on it, but it does not seem to be a prevalent phenomena on Okinawa. would be hard to know for sure, though, because of its shameful implications for the families.
yesterday was taken out to dinner by Mr. Taira with my supervisor, Mr. Miyagi, and an office lady from the BOE, Keiko-san. Mr. Taira took us to the same sushiya we went to last time.
Once again i had an incredible meal.....i don't believe i could ever not like sushi and sashimi. there were new tastes last night: i tried an octopus from Hokkaido, a milky soup with a giant oyster, sea urchin, and i finally ate the giant clam (mirugai) and it was fantastic. i've seen the sushi guys cut up the mirugai at Hama and it always looked so strange and smelled a bit off, so i've never braved it. it was worth the wait to have it last night, at a first-class sushiya, delivered fresh from mainland Japan.
mr. taira and mr. miyagi are already talking about me staying here for five years. i would have to take a test to be able to teach elementary school after Gabrielle leaves. as appealing as that sounds, i really don't see myself doing it. some days are really difficult.
like today when i stood in front of the classroom and recited 20 words in a row because the JTE decided to cram two lessons worth of material into the very last English class. the kids were ready to fall out of their desks and i don't blame them. how boring to have their last English class be filled with material that is overwhelming, poorly taught, and mostly useless and/or repeat of stuff they should have already learned.
i am seriously considering starting an English club for the next school year. gonna work on the proposal during spring break.
if i am to believe that i am accomplishing something while i am here that is along the lines of what JET Programme anticipates then i need to start doing things outside of the classroom with the students. i won't be able to change the teaching style in use at the moment by the JTE--although i will not stop trying, but they need more genuine interaction in English, especially the ones that seems to have taken a liking to the language.
thanx to the wonderful planning of ms. Yasemine, a few of us got a chance to see whales off the coast of Okinawa on Tuesday. it was a national holiday and we stayed at Yasemine's monday night to get up early for an 8:30am boarding at a port in Naha. it was a windy three-hour-tour and we followed three whales for 2 out of those 3 hours. we saw one of them make two beautiful jumps. they played very close to the 5 boats that followed them. at one point, one of them came up for air within 5 meters of our boat. extraordinary sight. slightly unreal to experience a sight so natural and yet so rarely observed by humans. am so lucky. and yet i wonder if it doesn't bother them to be in such close vicinity to the boats. although, they didn't seem to mind that much because they didn't stray very far from the boats.
for a much more eloquent and informed account of the experience, please check out Kelly's blog--where she turns her historical skills to nature.
i didn't take too many pics, wouldn't have done justice to the experience but both Kelly and Yasemine lucked out and captured on video the jumps. i will post the photos i have and also from the weekend when Kelly, Chiye and i went to Katsuren castle.
we also went out for pizza last weekend at the famous Motobu restaurant at the top of a mountain.
it's one of those interesting things about Okinawa that a restaurant whose menu offers three food items: an appetizer, a giant salad, and pizza should be on the of the most famous on the island. granted, the view is wonderful and the pizza is well done.