cards for the Blue Team
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.
So I've had lots of time on my hands at school this week. They've had virtually no classes since Monday and are letting the kids prepare for Sports Day on Friday everyday this week. They work so hard on it all, and it rained today, so I really hope it's nice on Friday and we don't have to postpone until Saturday.
With my time today I made the nifty cards you see here. I've been assigned to the Blue Team - so I got some blue construction paper, used pictures from a Marvel Comics page-a-day calendar I have and some Spongebob stationary I have, and made each student in the 3-2 San Nen Sei class (the blue team main class) a "Ganbatte" card.
I bought two bags of Kit Kats (which come in bags of 17 bars??) last night, so i was able to give each kid a card and a Kit Kat after school today and told them to do their best on Friday.
It was funny today - i was practicing the "Catch the Ball" game I'm doing and one of my JTEs asked me what I was gonna wear while throwing the ball. I said, "Well, I'll be wearing all Blue since I'm on the Blue Team this year." She said in the best indirect manner of the Japanese that it would be good if I could change clothes for the game since all the teams are involved and I'm not a member of the Blue Team while I'm doing the game. OOOKKKK - makes sense actually, but it's just something that I would never have thought about.
The other cool thing that happened today was I had a great impromptu chat with 4 of my san nen sei girls after lunch.
I was sitting on the wall by the dirt field watching my blue team go thru their dance routine, and Hiromi and Hiromi (yes -two girls named Hiromi) from the Green team came over and sat with me. We watched together for a while and started to chat about this and that. I had just seen Hiromi's older sister, Atsumi (who was my student when I first arrived in 2004), in a local eatery on Monday night, so we talked about that, and i asked the other Hiromi if she was "retired" from the Gymnastics club yet. We talked a little about last year's sports day and I asked them who was going to win this year and of course they said the Green Team. I asked them if they were a little sad since this is their last Sports Day as Jr High students and they both said yes, but also excited. I told Hiromi that this was my last Sports Day too, since I'll leave in July next year, and even though she won't even be a student at Taisha Chu next September, she looked visibly upset. I was a little touched that she was concerned and we chatted about whether I'll return to America or stay in Japan. A few other girls had drifited over, including Risa and Mizuki. So we chatted a little more before they had to go off and practice some more.
None of that probably seems that interesting to you, but I got home tonight and was looking at my pictures from the day (I've already taken like 100 pics and it's not even the real event yet) and I realized how cool it is that I can chat with the kids like that now.
You have to understand that two years ago, when I was a brand new ALT, the kids certainly wouldn't have been at ease speaking to me and I simply didn't have the Japanese language skills to hold anything approaching a conversation. You see, the entire chat I just described took place almost entirely in Japanese. I know, I know - I'm supposed to be here to promote learning English - but the simple fact is that most Jr High kids can't speak at all beyond a few set phrases and some very simple greetings.
So I've worked these past two years to get better at speaking Japanese simply so days like today can take place. It's incredibly satisying to actually be able to connect with the kids - and I'm still not even close to where I'd like to be speaking wise.
I look at pictures from two years ago, and the kids were just as genki and cute, but they are by and large just faces I briefly knew. I look at pictures of my kids now and I see beyond the face - i know that kid's name and his or her personality and so much more about them as people now.
So the simple act of sitting on a wall and chatting with a bunch of rural 14-year-olds was the highlight of my day.
I can't wait for Friday. Go BLUE TEAM!!