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Whew! It’s been busy lately, haven’t had much time to post with all the things going on! Finally have a chance today to sit down and upload pictures and write, so you’ll be getting a big update all at once today.

There have been major shopping trips (check out Shauna and my new shirts in the picture above!), bank problems that were thankfully resolved, trips to random places, falling in class, and life being hectic in general. But through all that, I’ve always been working toward the speech contest, yay!

I have six kids I work with, two from each grade, and it has been a good thing to know and work with them because it makes classes just a bit better to know at least one name. And the kids are frankly just great! It makes the day brighter to see them around school ^__^

The speech contest was on Thursday the 25th of September, and in the afternoon I biked with the kids to the contest place, which happened to be super close to my apartment. They were so cute, it was like ducklings! I wish I had been able to take a picture of that!

My two ichinensei. They’re both really sweet kids, and they worked super hard at their speeches!

And my ninensei, my favorite grade since they’re so fun!

I didn’t get a good picture of my sannensei girls, but the one on the far left is one of them. The other one (not pictured) had my favorite speech of the group… really well written and inspiring!

Kenji’s fanclub, some of the Onochuu girls he used to teach. Shauna and I tease him about this a lot!

Anyway, my kids did wonderfully, I’m so proud of them! One in each grade got an “excellent prize”, which I guess is in lieu of giving first, second, and third-type prizes. Four kids in each grade got one, while everyone else got “Good” prizes. Also, one of my ichinensei won the best overall trophy for the ichinensei division, and one of my sannensei was one of two who gets to go on to the Gunma prefectural competition. I was a bit disappointed the other three didn’t get good prizes, especially my other sannensei, because I know how hard she worked… but overall I’m really happy with the results!

I’m still working with the sannensei going to the next level on her speech these days, but I only really see the others in class. I can kinda see what Kenji goes through each year already, thinking about next year’s speech contest and that another ALT will be working with the group. I’ll probably still get to see the kids at next year’s (since the same ones generally do it multiple times), but it is still a bit sad to think about. Didn’t take me very long to get attached to Nishichuu!

Right, enough of that. Next up, the MARATHON Taikai! Woo, marathon’s!

Each year, the school has this marathon where they run around Takenuma, which is a swamp (supposedly) that is really a lake (to me at least) that looks sorta like an alien’s hand. The path around it is long and windy and inefficient, and that is what the kids run around.

I went to school a little earlier on that day so I could be driven with one of the teachers. The kids had to ride their bikes there, though, poor things. We passed some of them straining up the hill, with K-sensei yelling “gambare!” and “hayaku!” to them, lol. (Basically, “good luck!” and “hurry!”) That was funny XD

I wandered around a bit before had while the teachers set everything up. I pretty much had no idea what was going on, and was mostly ignored since everyone was busy, so I ran around taking pictures!

A map of the lake… it doesn’t look too bad, right?

It is a really pretty place though… I’d definitely go back, if I thought I could find it again!

I keep taking flower pictures now that I’ve figured out my camera’s close-up settings.

I had already decided that I was going to walk around the lake instead of run, partly because I wanted to take it easy after not feeling well on Wednesday, and partly because I really didn’t think I’d actually make it to the end if I ran! It worked out, though, since one of the girls had a fever but was still going to walk it, so we walked together and freed up the sensei who was going to go with her. Mostly we didn’t talk, especially since by the end of it I was tired. Someone’s out of shape, whoops!

I like this picture… N-chan giving marching orders!

Kouchou-sensei addressing the kids

Another pic of them listening… the day was pretty chilly and rainy, so the kids weren’t very happy

Aaaand they’re off!

Anyway, it was a fun day overall. I was driven back, sent off with a bentou which I was instructed to eat every bit of (”eat ALL your rice!” XD ), and got to go home early. All together, it was a good day!

And just to end things on a random note since I started with a random picture, the other day the elementary kids were practicing for their sport’s day at Nishichuu.

They even have a mini drum major leading the group! SO CUUUUUTE!