Tuesday, June 06, 2006

i am late with the promised post. apologies.

the student teacher has dissapeared. it's the first period of the day, technically a free one, the one during which the JTE and i plan for the day. we have three classes in a row after this one and i have no idea what she has planned. it only confirms my growing belief that Japanese teachers of English consider us, ALTs, incredible English spewing machines, able to operate at any hour of the day or night, given absolutely no notice or expectations.
and to be honest, i suppose it's true in a way. we can do it. we can come up with things on the spot in our own language. simple things. not the entire lay out of a class!
anyways. that's my day. and it just started.
and it's really not as bad as i'm making it seem. i'm quite happy being a robot as long as i'm allowed to move about the kids and talk to them. and the student teacher is quite good actually. she's 22 and grew up in Ogimi, so actually went to this school herself. Whenever she leaves the teacher's office, she does like the kids: turns, bows and says "shitsurei shimashita" (meaning "really sorry a lot"...sort of). i think it's tres cute; some habbits must be hard to get rid of.
she's been good in the classroom. has a strong presense and will do well on her own. only problem right now is that she forgets she has an ALT. but that just might be the nerves of keeping it all together in her head. at least, i had a couple of months of observation before i stepped up to the teaching plate. she's in there right away and only for 3 weeks.

the students are getting ready for the big sports weekend. It's the 3rd graders last chance to play club sports before they have to give them up to study for HS entrance exams. So Sunday all sports clubs play in different areas in the north, and everyone from the school goes and watches. On Monday, we'll go watch any of the teams that have gotten to the top 4 rounds. Then we have Tuesday off to make up for "working" on Sunday. Of course, if the kids don't make it to Monday rounds, then we just have the monday off. works out well for everyone, especially me.

and the trip was great. it was an eye opener on Japan but more on the spirituality of Japan than anything else. I truly loved Kyoto, and Kobe was great. Osaka was so-so, but i was only there for 24 hours, so not a fair assessment. I did see an exhibition of Chagall's work in Osaka and that was one of the highlights of my trip. I saw the flyer for it at the Kansai Airport when i flew in and was beaming with delight for the rest of the trip just knowing that i would get to see it before i left mainland. It was a wonderful exhibition. 27 paintings and 100 prints.

I also got to spend time in rural Japan. I took a day trip after Kyoto on the way to Osaka and stopped in a small town of Asuka, famous for its archaeological treasures. Numerous earthen mounds were excavated in that area, dating from 1400 years ago. The Asuka temple is the oldest Buddist temple in Japan and its Budda, the oldest bronze Budda statue in Japan. I walked for hours, at one point joining hordes of elementary school kids through their walks of the same areas.

The best part of the trip, however, was the trip to one of the areas in northern Kyoto. I wanted to visit a temple complex in the mountains, but one of the reasons for picking that one in particular (as there are hundred of temples to see in Kyoto if not thousands) was the route. It was a 50 minute bus ride, a 5 minute ride on a cable car, and then a shorter ride on a rope way all the way to the top. At the top, i started a 30-40 minute hike down to the temples. It was one of the best hikes of my life. Rivals the hiking in the Blackhills of South Dakota. I was alone for most of it, only briefly seeing a couple walking in the oposite direction. As i walked through the tall, slim woods, every once in a while a temple gong would reverberate through them, creating a hollow sound all around, moving through the trees, bringing them to live for a brief moment and dissipating slowly.
It was a foggy, rainy day, and the clouds hung low. I don't know if outside of an airplane, i've ever "been" that close to the clouds.
In short, a walk to remember.
And the temples were pretty good as well. :)

I was sitting alone in the computer lab. It's later in the afternoon and all classes went off smoothingly. 5 1st grade girls just walked in, a bit of noise in the room.

I have an hour before story contest practice and then off to karate. I haven't gone for nearly three weeks now. Missed three classes because of the trip and two before that because i was being....meh...
but today am sick and can't skip.

the photos from the trip are up, as well as a few random ones from the keitai. i haven't written captions for all of them yet. too many at ones.

oh. saw "Inside Man" and "the Da vinci Code" on base. really really liked the "Inside Man" and not just because Clive Owens is one the best looking actors out there; the direction was great and the story good. Denzel Washington doesn't age, does he?
The "Davinci code" was passable. i haven't read the book but think i followed the story of the film in its entirety. I really liked the historical stories and the way they were recreated within the film. I also really enjoyed Ian McKellan and Paul Bettany's performances. Otherwise. meh.


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