Sunday, March 25, 2007

am tired. mom's in town and we have been busy ever since she landed wednesday night.
she has been to my school and visited a class during which the kids managed to ask her a few questions and involved her in a game they played. she ate school lunch which also happened to be her first japanese food. she has been officially welcomed by my BOE with a party at a local restaurant. My supervisor presented her with a present and flowers and speeches were made. On saturday she was a great help to me during the Okinawa JET Gumball Rally, which turned out to be a great success. 6 teams participated and gathered lots of hilarious photos and surprising objects as well as the ones required by the list. I hope the photos turn up somewhere in the future and i can copy them and post them. During the race mom and i went to the Urasoe Art Museum and saw an exhibition of Asian fiber art recommended by Brett. The exhibition was small but wonderful. I have never seen fiber art so formally presented and it was quite intriguing. The museum itself, however, is not so impressive with a small permanent collection of Okinawan lacquer ware. After the gumball rally finished a few of us went out to dinner at an izakaya and then it was karaoke time. Mom was a brave soul and stayed up 'til 3am with us and sang a few songs, including the only russian selection available, TATU's "Ya soshla s uma."
This morning was cloudy and rainy and my plans to take mom to her first Okinawan castle were ruined. But we had a great day, nonetheless. First lunch with the wonderful and stylish, Ms. Wiebe at DFS and then a stop at Cape Manzamo in Onna village on the way back home.
Back in Ogimi we stopped at home to pick up some russian sweets mom brought and went to the Sunday night adult class i teach. The members of the class decided to welcome my mom with a potluck dinner, so we gathered at Kei-san's house and mom was treated to beautiful food and wonderful company. I think she enjoyed herself. i know i did.

so that's the start. mom will be here for another 12 days and we hope to make the most of it without tiring ourselves out too much. no more staying up 'til 3:30am unless we can sleep in after.

i'll try to update but most likely won't have much time check back in a couple of weeks.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

apparently this thing called Facebook is a bit addictive. Fun, too. I like the layout way better than Myspace, and I only got on to Myspace at first so that i could read Ms. Kitty's enlightening blogs. But now i'm settled there but don't quite feel at home. Facebook is another story. Most of my friends on Okinawa are on it and a few people from back home as well. It's a fun way to connect during the day. Just another format for communication. E-mails no longer do it for us. They imply time consuming lengthy responses. But Facebook or other formats like it, provide a space for quick messaging, short replies, witty comments, and pokes. It's easier to let someone know that you're paying attention to them without having to go into details about your life as well. Someone should write a thesis about the ever changing communication patterns of the 21st century and how tons of kids out there can't even imagine a world without the 2 second responses.
So here for your enjoyment is my Facebook badge. Don't know if i'll keep it here for long.

A week before my mother visits the island and it's very exciting to be waiting for her to come here. A couple of welcome parties have already been planned for her and i have a little surprise in the works as well. Should be a good time; hope i don't get sick before she gets here though.
Three teachers and at least 10 students are absent today due to influenza. 'tis the season for it, but some suspect that the students brought it from mainland when a couple of them went there on an exchange trip along with several elementary kids. Influenza ain't pretty here; i remember being sick last year and losing my voice; so crossing my fingers and trying to peel oranges to keep away from the illness.

The days are quiet now at school. The 3rd graders graduated on Saturday and are now free to roam the village streets until the start of their 1st high school year. The ceremony was wonderful: lots of emotions, some singing, presenting of awards and lots of speeches. One student received an award for not being late or absent for all 9 years of school (elementary and Jr. H.S.) and a couple of students haven't been absent or late during the 3 year Jr. H.S. carrier and 9 or so have not been absent or late during their entire 3rd year. I thought those were interesting awards to give out. I'd personally think the girl who hadn't been absent for 9 years is a bit of a loser, but i'm a teacher now and am not allowed to think those thoughts.

I took some pics around the school the day before graduation and on Saturday as well. During the ceremony, however, a 1st grader asked to use my camera and i thought i'd get interesting pics that way, but unfortunately all i got was extremely zoomed-in and blurry photos of crying 3rd graders. Lesson learned--take my own pics from now on.
During this graduation, i felt a bit more emotionally attached to the kids than last year. I felt that i knew most of them very well--some have been in my English club, with four of them i practiced for speech and story contests, a few boys would always attempt to converse with me between i actually came close to tears when one of the twins, the class leader this year, was giving a thank you speech and broke down half way. I didn't understand all of it, but it was easy to understand the emotion. So now they're gone, but not really. Most of them were in school yesterday because the H.S. test results came out and they were here congratulating each other on having gotten in. A few students didn't get in. I was only surprised that it happened to one of them, a girl who attempted to get into Nago H.S. So her homeroom teacher and principal were on the phone for a part of the day, her mother was here chatting with teachers about what's to be done, and i think she's going to attempt again for Nago H.S. and if not, will go to the high school in Ogimi, Hentona.

With 3rd graders gone, i have a bit more time on my hands and have been studying Japanese and planning for mom's trip and also thinking of ways to improve our classroom techniques for next year. Have a couple of ideas that hopefully will get implemented and the students should benefit from it. We're also starting the process of choosing next school year's participants for story and speech contests. I hope a few kids try out next week so that we can pick the best ones. I have a feeling, though, that if 4 try out, we'll be lucky. So now i have to start thinking of stories for them to do next year. The story contest is in June, so we'll only have 2 months once the kids and stories are picked and i'm done traveling by mid-April.

In other news, on Tuesday Ben, Rodger, David and i as well as 3 other adult students had a karate test for the next belt. It was a bit nerve wracking. We had to do 5 skills and then three katas: two mandatory and one of our choosing. But the test went fine; the Sensei seemed pleased with us and even commented on the individual things he thought were good about our performances. We should know next week if we passed and are ready for orange belts.

I've been a bit sluggish with running, but ran twice this week and hoping for a 3rd time on Friday. I seem to think that if i make my attempt at running the Shioya run public then there will be more people i'll be lying to if i don't actually do it because i'm an extremely lazy person when allowed to be. So there you are. The run is on the 29th. It's 9.5km and i'm hoping to do it with Kelly and Yasemine. So here's to doing something i've been swearing up and down i would never do....
things change, eh?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Поздравляю всех женьшин, девушек, мам, бабушек, внучек и особенно сестер С Международным Женским Днём!!!
The above is to wish all women a Happy International Women's Day!
and now, because every women is a piece of art--depends on the day of course, if it's the serene Mona Lisa or eccentric Frida Kalo but a piece of art nonetheless--here's a test to find your own, daily piece of art. and today....
I am Best Described By...
San Giorgio Maggiore, TwilightBy Claude Monet
and also, because i found it hillarious, here's a test to see if you're a dumb american--or are not American and to shame them all know more about US history.
though, not more than me it turns out, because...
I am a Smart American
You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.