I’ve put off this entry for a long time for no reason, but I finally found the time in my (amazingly busy) schedule (total sarcasm) to post. This past weekend was also Scott and Naomi’s nijikai and a brief trip to a park in Fujioka, so more on that in a bit.
Alright. Nishichuu! “Nishichuu”, short for “Nishi Chuugakkou”, or “West Junior High”.
There are either 4 or 5 junior high schools in Fujioka, depending on who you ask. Techinically, it is 5, as the town of Onishi, which has a JHS, was merged with Fujioka a few years ago. But most people ignore that one. So, I work at Nishichuu, Shauna works at Onochuu, Kenji at Higashichuu, and the incoming Ken at Kitachuu. And of course, Onishichuu, which has a private JET named Rojer. For those few of you who know Japanese directions, you may be wondering, “what happened to Minamichuu”? The answer is some complicated story of merging and then areas losing population, and the result is that there once was a Minamichuu, except now it is abandoned and apparently quite a creepy place. It is my mission to go there at least once before I leave, but that is for another time.
My first week was a bit… boring. Reasons for this range from me not knowing the teachers or the students to me actually not having anything to do. First off, I only have 4 classes a day Monday through Wednesday. Thursday I assume they give me a preparation day, except I really don’t have much to prepare for at this point. Friday is a half day for us lucky Fujioka ALTs, so they don’t even bother giving me anything to do then. So in essence, I work Monday through Wednesday and basically do whatever I want/need to Thursday and the first half of Friday.
Except things never really work out like that. Classes are always getting canceled, moved around, postponed, and changed, so the result is I never really DO know when I’ll have a class. For example, last week, I did my jikoshoukai (self-introduction) for the Sannensei (3rd graders or 9th grade in the US). But on Monday, when I have the ichinensei (1st or 7th graders), they were taking tests, and on Wednesday, when I’d have the ninensei (2nd or 8th graders), they were out all week doing real-world job stuff. Yet this week, while I finally get the ichi and ninensei, the sannensei I inexplicably don’t have a class with.
The result being that I never have any idea what I’m doing, but that’s okay. I’m getting used to it. So last week, I took time out of my amazingly busy schedule (note the sarcasm again) to take pictures around the school.
First off though, I’ve honed my bike ride to a decent 15-20 minutes depending on how sweaty I feel like being when I walk into the teachers room that day. Rice fields surround my school and are this amazing color of green. Its a bit startling for me still.
I’ve never lived anywhere with mountains before. Austin has rolling hills, and I’m pretty sure New Orleans counts as a negative mountain, being under sea level and all. So they are a source of absolute beauty and fascination for me! I like them. A lot.
Anyway, so then the teacher’s room and my desk:
Random pictures of the school:
The bike rack where I and the rest of the students park. The real teachers get cars XD
The school is actually partly still under construction to enhance it for earthquakes because of the disasters in China. It is nice to know they’re being safe, but annoying trying to find classes that are relocated in the most random places…
Anyway, I’ve been slowly getting to know the kids and orienting myself into the routine. The teacher’s all know I pretty much don’t do anything and still get paid, but they’re nice to me anyway! And the kids are… well, kids. Some are sweet, some are shy, some are smartasses in a really funny way, and some are just the absolute devil. I’d like to think the kids like me, but its kinda hard to tell sometimes…
It actually is really amusing to me that I was so nervous of them when I first got here. They come up to me in pairs or in groups, rarely alone, and always with having practiced a bit of English first. I’m also pretty sure I have them utterly confused as to whether I speak Japanese or not, which is right where I want them… they speak English to me, which is what they’re supposed to do, and yet when they do speak Japanese, if I’m lucky, I can understand and practice on them without them ever knowing it. Mwahahahaha. Right now though, the second years are my favorite… they’re into the groove of school at this point, so not as shy as the ichinensei, but not swamped by high school entrance exams like the sannensei, so still more relaxed. They’re fun ^_^
Some of my sannensei’s pictures, my cheat sheets