Sports Day!

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Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

So, yesterday was the big Sports Day at Kamo Junior High. The kids had been preparing for the event for at least the last month or so, so it was exciting to finally see the fruits of their labors. Some of the other ALTs I’ve talked to have joked about this event being like the Olympics, with all the accompanying pomp and circumstance, and I can really see why. There were opening ceremonies (with a torch that shot out fireworks!), team cheers, speeches, relays of all kinds, parent/teacher competitions, team dance routines, and so much more!

It was an all day extravaganza (and a scheduled work day for me), so I passed the time by sitting in a covered seating area, taking pictures, and being served cold tea by junior high girls. It was very nice, although I felt a little guilty that I couldn’t help out more. I participated in one of the PTA relays, which involved tossing a huge ball down a line of people. Quite fun.

So, Sports Day also marked the end of my very first week of teaching. It was pretty intense. Junior high is a really challenging age, just in terms of knowing what interests the kids and how best to hold their attention. Japanese kids seem much better behaved than their American counterparts overall, but it’s a really different atmosphere. For example, kids can just “pass” on questions and choose not to answer when a teacher calls on them–something that would have been unheard of when I went to school. At the moment, most of my lessons consist on giving a 20-30 minute talk about myself and my home country/city. It’s tough for me to talk about myself for that long–I usually splice in a game or two to help the kids (and myself) pass the time a little more quickly. Anyway, I hope it will get easier as I get used to the job and actually start teaching a little more English…

Anyway, since Sports Day required me to work on a Saturday, I get tomorrow off. I’m going to Niigata City with a couple of other ALTs to get my reentry permit–I need it to get back into the country when I leave to go home or to another country. I’m planning to go back to Seattle in December and then maybe head somewhere else in Asia in the spring–China, South Korea, or Thailand would be nice. We’ll see how it goes.

For tonight, I think I’ll work on personal statements, read a little more of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and maybe try to clean/decorate my apartment (an ongoing mission). Off I go…