Friday, April 07, 2006

all new things

the TV was just turned off. what a shame. i rather enjoyed the Spam commercial that was just on. The thinly cut and frying pieces of conglomerated meat looked so good on the big screen that for a moment i wondered what it was about Spam i didn't like. mystery....
Spam, of course, is a substitute meat of choice on this island. it is in almost every traditional dish which beggs the question of how traditional can the dish be. Ordering a vegeterian champuru (mixed stirfy Okinawa style) does not mean that all meat products will be absent. It just means there might be Spam.

but onto more pleasant and important things.

И вроде бы не Сентябрь месяц и точно не первое число. И не работаю я в младших классах, а преподаю ученикам средних классов. Но сегодня, 7-го Апреля было ощущение того всем выходцам из Советских республик известного праздника. Сегодня 29-ять новых учеников вступили "в первый раз в первый класс."
Не было бантов и цветов. Не било звонка и нескольких первых классов. В этом году в нашу школу вступил один первый класс: 1-1. Были родители и слегка запуганных первоклашек ввели в спортивный зал девочка с флагом и их новый классный руководитель. Было очень красиво и торжественно. Первоклассников представили перед всеми. Они кажутся такими маленькими по сравнению со всеми рядом. Хотя если честно, трудно поверить что сегодняшние третилкассники били только во втором классе две недели назад. Всё таки странный здесь учебный год.

Ну всё. Хватит. Напечатать это всё заняло мне почти пол часа. В первый раз, как говорится...

i can safely say that today was my favorite school ceremony. it is the openning day ceremony of the new school year. The kids that two weeks ago left as 2nd (8th) graders are now a school year older. We ceremoniously welcomed new teachers early in the morning. Then the vice principal proclaimed the school year open, and we sang the school song and a couple of students gave speeches. Yes, i sang along. There was a booklet made for the parents of the new students and in it is a copy of the school song. I couldn't sing it before because even though the lyrics are up on a wall in the gym, they are mostly in kanji. The booklet's lyrics of the song have furigana written with the kanji, which made it easier for me. So i sang and felt a bit more a part of what was going on. Granted, a very small bit.
There were two good moments of the morning ceremonies. During the speeches of the openning ceremony the spongy kanji letters that were taped up to the overhead board drawn to the very top of the stage background fell down. First one fell down and sent a ripple of giggles through the girls section. Most teachers smiled. Then a few minutes later another one came down--this time it was much funnier as only one spongy letter remained at the top causing students to tense up with expectation and actually pay attention to what was going on on the stage at the time. a couple of teachers went to the stage, paused the proceedings, lowered the banner, taped up the kanji, and things finished off smoothly after that.
The second nice moment came when students were introduced to their new homeroom teachers. Apparently they change those every year; i assumed the same teacher stays with the class from 1st grade on, but that wouldn't make sense i suppose since teachers themselves move schools so often. So all the teachers lined up in front of the students and the new vice principal read out the names of the new homeroom teachers. Students cheered, yelled, claped, and i did see a couple of dissapointed faces. A couple of new 3-2 girls came up to me. They said that i should be the substitute homeroom teacher (every homeroom teacher has one, a helper of sorts). I kidded and said next year because this year my Japanese isn't good enough. They were dissapointed--they won't be here next year. It was funny though to see them so lively...they were just happy that the JTE was no longer their homeroom teacher. It was so obvious. sad, really.
but he has new responsibility this year--he is now the teacher in charge of the Students' Council. He seems to have been so busy this whole break that we didn't exchange one word about the classes we are to teach. Great.

but i've digressed.

the next ceremony was for the new 1st graders. Their parents and important village people filled the chairs that stood empty during the morning ceremonies. Kids rearranged themselves during the break. I was talking with two girls, one of them sang several Hilary Duff songs to me in almost perfect English. She's not the best English student, her friend was better in understanding what i was staying, but her pronounciation and enthusiasm are great. Am considering pursuading her to try out for the Story contest that is coming up soon. So after the break, the new first graders were led in by their homeroom teacher. They looked excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. But they know almost everyone. It's a small community and am sure that all the kids within the smaller villages know each other. So there were some winks, and waves, and smiles to the students as they passed them. It was really sweet, uninhibitted, and unpretencious. Touching, almost. Like the first day of school on the 1st of September as i remember it from USSR (that's what the russian portion of the blog is about, btw).

The Japanese society depends on ceremony. Everything has an outlined way of doing things. And if it doesn't then there is a phrase that says, "oh well, it can't be helped because there isn't a form that we know how to follow in this situation."
At first it seems ridiculous, mostly because i lack the linguistic understanding of all the ceremonial behaviors. It has grace but is absent of meaning. So it's easier to ridicule than to understand. But i am trying to understand.
And yesterday i participated in my first truly personal ceremony that contained both meaning and emotion. I received my blue belt in karate. We sat in front of the sensei. A black belt kid had the bag with new different colored belts. We were called one by one, the sensei presented us with a certificate and a new belt, i received them with both hands and bowed. I didn't cry or anything but it was somewhat overwhelming. Maybe because it was ceremonious or maybe because i did something i never thought i would and was acknowledged for it. Either way, it was nice.

And we've succesfully come to 4pm on a Friday afternoon. Time to go home.



Xavier said...

Congratulations for receiving
a blue belt. That's quite an achievement. Is that shichi kyu?

ya vam pozdravlju c poluchat' cinii pojas.

I know my Russian isn't very good, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Kevin Thomas Hurley said...

Damn Russian, if only I read War and Peace in second grade maybe I could speak you. ;)