May 25, 2001


Right now I'm feeling: Very Confused

Right now I'm listening to: Brilliant Green

Brilliant Green -- Lucky Star  

My sunglasses are a
big hit with the students

Afterschool fun


Today was my last day at Seiwa. I'm really, really going to miss this school. This was the school I coached the kids the most for the English recitation contest last year. A lot of these kids really like me and I really like them. I get my butt pinched or smacked by a number of the girls here, which usually only the boys do.

I went around during the day and took some pictures of the kids cleaning up the classrooms and the outside. When I do this, I tell any remaining teachers that I'm going out to help with the cleaning, and I do help a little bit, but mainly I'm a big distraction because I usually take my camera, too, and most of the students want to be in the photo. I washed a few windows, mopped a floor, then just went around taking pictures and trying to get all the names of the kids who really made an impression on me.

I got some cool gifts from the students. Some origami, a couple of origami books from Ai (little doll, she is), some pictures. It was really nice. A couple of the kids who came by were really upset that I was leaving. Towards the end of the day, I talked to a few of the teachers I liked. It's weird. I made friends with all of the teachers who most of the other teachers don't like. I didn't do this on purpose and it kindof sucks. There's a big division at this school, much more than my other ones.

When school let out a lot of the girls wanted to take pictures with me and stuff. I got a couple more gifts. When we were taking pictures outside Hitomi and Kiyoko came up to me and wanted to say goodbye. We took some pictures together and there were some more students who wanted to take pictures with me. So I took them by the hands and said a good goodbye and was swamped by students with a few cameras. Hitomi and Kiyoko came back and said that they wanted to speak to me privately and say a few words. After a minute, we went upstairs to the teachers' meeting room (where we held most of our pronunciation practices). Kiyoko was the last one in and closed the door over. She turned around and looked up at me with big, red eyes and a tear running down her cheeks and said, "Jeff. Please don't go back to America."

Oh, my God.

At first I couldn't think of anything to say. I told her that I had to go and asked her to make friends with the next ALT. She asked why I needed to go back to America and asked me, begged me, to stay in Japan. As gently as I could, I told her that it was time for me to go back home, that I had a lot of things to do in America, and I needed to start my career. She didn't really seem to understand (she understood the words just fine, it was that she just didn't understand). Hitomi started crying then, as well. I couldn't believe it. Kiyoko said that no one had ever had so much faith in her or helped her so much in anything. Hitomi snorked out something similar in Japanese. We spoke for about a half an hour. Kiyoko was a mess by the time we left the meeting room and we made our way back to the teachers' room. Most of the teachers were gone already. I said goodbye again, I gave them each a quick hug, then they left.

I will never forget those two. Of all of my students, I will keep in touch with them. They gave me as much, if not more, than I gave them.

After we said our goodbyes, I packed up my stuff, said a few final goodbyes to the teachers who had stuck around, including a couple of my favorite English teachers, and said goodbye to the principal, who is actually a really nice guy.

The enkai later that night had been set up a week in advance, when they asked me for my 4000 yen. Goddam. I know I didn't really get along with many of the teachers, but they made me pay for my own farewell party!! I mentioned to this to a few ALTs later and they were really surprised. No one had ever heard anything like it. The enkai was pretty good, but I felt a little awkward. One thing I really dislike about enkais that you get a random seat. So the person sitting next to you might not even like you, let alone speak English. I got pretty lucky this time and got seated across from the non-JTE English speaker. The one no one likes because she's a little strange, but one of my favorite teachers at the school.

During the enkai they gave me my farewell gift. A black, school Isao bag that all of the students have. Some people thought it was a gag gift, but the principal and vice-principal thought I'd really like it, which I did. It's a great souvenir. One teacher told me I was really lucky to receive it as a gift because it is so expensive. Maybe that was part of the reason that they made me pay the 4000 yen to go to the party.

At the end of the party, everyone was going to go to a bar to go drinking, but I passed (I probably should have gone, but oh well) saying that I had to get up early the next day. Then one teacher sortof took me aside and told me some things. I didn't really understand him, he was drunk, slurring, and using words I'd never heard, but I was left with the strong urge to knock his block off. Later, Yoshimi, another teacher, told me that he was just saying how he disagreed with my coming to work late, or leaving after my classes were over. In short, my American work ethic. Well, we can't please 'em all, ne?

It was kindof a crappy end to a really depressing, but good day. I'm not surprised in the slightest that my goodbyes with the students were far more meaningful than those with the teachers.

I think you never really know who you mean a lot to until you leave them. Some of the students who were really upset... I guess I meant a lot to them, but I never knew that I did until today.

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