Sunday, June 03, 2007

snippets from last two weeks

on the way to school in the morning i now get to see some of my students waiting for the school bus at the bus stops. if we make eye contact, i wave and they wave back.
i started going to school a half hour earlier to practice for the story contest with one of the students. she's been busy after school practicing for a basketball tournament and mornings seem to be a good time to have a story session. sometimes she's late, though. and starting next week tuesday her morning "job" at school will be to stand with 3 or 4 other students and greet everyone as they come in to school. she'll have to do it for a week.
actually, because i usually don't get to school until 8:15am i don't get to see all sorts of things that happen before classes start. there are students who come in early to practice sports, and some are there to water the plants in the morning and to do a bit of clean up around the entrance. and of course, the greeters, whom i always miss because at 8:15am as i walk into school, students rush to their homerooms for a morning meeting. So i've been enjoying coming in early and seeing a new side of my students and school.

at first being back from home was really odd. and sort of difficult. my trip was so short but so wonderful that all i wanted was just to be back there still, surprising the dog with my presence every morning. but alas, i was back at school, thrown into a busy, ever changing schedule, and the first couple of days were tough. but it's back to normal, and the trip home feels like a dream that i had to reluctantly leave when i woke up on a school day morning.

tomorrow two student teachers start at the school. one is for English, the other is for Home Economics, i think. i really don't understand how they schedule these students teaching stints. they're only 3 weeks long, but during those three weeks the school will be super busy. we're having the biggest inter JHS sports tournament this weekend, which could be the last one for 3rd graders if they don't win in their respective team sport. Our school has girl and boy basketball teams, girls' soft tennis team and a boys baseball team. I think a couple of students will be competing in karate as well, but we don't have a formal team at school--they practice at private dojos. So we get a friday and a following monday off because we'll all be expected to be at the tournaments' various sights this weekend to cheer on the students. Also the following Wednesday all the students are going on a field trip to two places in Okinawa to learn about WWII and the peace movement. So lots of interruptions, during which the two young and scared student teachers will have to attempt to practice their budding teaching skills. seems ridiculous to me. but at the same time, very japanese.

this past weekend was filled with all sorts of cultural and learning activities. On Friday, the school was visited by a singer/songwriter who performed for the students and the community. She's Okinawan and in late 20's and suffered from an illness i didn't quite understand which, i think, resulted in her losing vision in one eye. not sure exactly how it happened, but she wears a patch over her right eye. She battled through a serious depression after it happened but with the help of her friends and music was able to pull through. She seriously got into singing and song writing to help her through and has been performing since 2003. She plays the guitar and has a lovely and strong voice. Her music is Alanis Morrissete influenced and not bad at all. I enjoyed her singing.

But i had to leave the concert a half hour early because i got invited to join a few friends in watching a performance by a troupe from India at another village community center. Craig saw them perform on his island of Izena the previous night and said they were worth seeing, so we invited a few people and went to see it. The performance included classical and traditional dancing, singing, drumming and even a martial arts dance with swords. It was great to have our very own Indian expert in Juhi, who explained the story behind one of the more beautiful dances which involved a Krishna flirting with cow shepherdesses. The evening's event also included several performances of Okinawan traditional dance and music. This troupe from North Eastern region of India has been traveling Japan for a month and has another month of daily performances ahead of them. Their performances are a part of the Japan-India Friendship Year 2007. This is to commemorate a cultural, historical and more recently business connections between the two countries. There are numerous events taking place all over Japan and India to commemorate it. I'm really glad we got to see it. It's really great to see a live cultural performance, and i seem to appreciate those very rare opportunities more here.
Here are the students setting up their chairs before the performance on Friday. They bring their own chairs from the classroom. Each chair has their name sticker on the back, unless of course they scraped it off at some point. And then i don't know how they figure out whose is whose.
The singer/songwriter performs at the school on a Friday afternoon.
Prior to the performance at the Nakijin Community Center, the dancers and musicians are introduced to the audience.
The shepherdess dance. When they came out in their stunning costumes, the "awe" in the audience was audible. They were gorgeous and graceful. The best dance of the evening.
Krishna flirting with the main shepherdess. Their love, as Juhi told us, has been deified in Indian mythology. A beautiful, classical dance.

Craig has an interesting story about the performers' visit to his island, and i hope he shares it on his blog. so watch for that.

I also wanted to mention two movies i recently watched, Libertine and Stage Beauty. I watched Libertine first last week, and i had no idea that the two movies took place during the same time period. Each movie's focus was the theater life during the reign of Charles II in England in the 1660's. And the two movies couldn't have been more different in their portrayal of the times. I enjoyed both movies and the stories they told. The differences in how they told the stories of the time made me think in how we look at history of centuries past. We can have a story of depravity and excess be shrouded in dark colors and not shy away from gruesome and highly sexual imagery that prevailed then, or we can have a story of love taking place in the same period where stepping into a pile of horse dung represents the discomfort of life, and the ending stops on an uplifting love moment instead on the image of a death of a syphilitic man. Of course, both films bend history to their liking in order to promulgate their stories.
Would films two hundred years from now be able to romanticize the tragedy of our times? Will there be films two hundred years from now is probably a better question, eh?

and on that note, i'd like to end this blog, so i can get back to watching the 4th season of the Simpsons. The true cultural genius of our times. :)



Craig Mauelshagen said...

I have blogged my say. However it is a silly long post, apparently I am a rambler. I suggest a cup of tea and perhaps some snacks to see you through it.

Juhi said...

Indian expert???? :> hahaha!!! Thanx for the honour!!

nice post, tho! mine is due still... soon, soon

Kevin Thomas Hurley said...

I just had a little discussion with some friends about which show was better, Family Guy or Simpsons. I was the only one to qualify the Simpsons. In my mind it is like comparing oranges and plums. Sure, I have an orange every day and love it, but I would also stop eating oranges to switch to plums now and then. So which one is better? Niether, it just depends on my current desire.