June 11, 2000
I'm feeling: Not too bad, thanks
Right now I'm listening
to: assorted J-Pop stuff, but here's 'Glay'
Hello My Life
Technically, not J-Pop...
Glay is J-Rock, or maybe J-Punk? Who knows? Anyway,
they're not too bad.
These guys look like some of the kids at some of our
Junior High School
Ironically, the worst
school in Wakayama is right next to a shrine
This is for anyone who
thought I was joking about the apple bit the
other day... Today, I got the cheap package of apples,
398 yen, which is about four dollars US. You see!?!
I wasn't joking about the plastic wrap or the styrofoam,
link is: Heap's
Homepage. He's another JET here in Japan and his homepage
really kicks ass. If you visit his page, drop him a note
and say hi or sign his guestbook. Everyone loves email!
of the Day:
"If you do not believe in yourself, do
not blame others for lacking faith in you."
-- Brendan Francis
in the Water
not all daisies and sunshine in this job... my neighbor's
school, Nissin, is proof of that. Today I'm going to take
some time to illustrate just how bad it gets on the job.
So if you want some daisies or sunshine, tune in tomorrow..
I'll have some daisies up, then.. I promise.
I begin this tirade, I just want to say how brave my neighbor
is for putting up with all of this for so long. For two
years in a row, I asked him to trade to one of my tamer
schools, but he refused. Probably because the kids would
have such a field day with me that I'd be crying home to
momma within a week (Glen's a large and rather imposing
figure and I'm.. well.. not. Not that there's anything
wrong with that...)
JHS is indisputably the worst school in Wakayama City. No
one tells you that when you get to Japan on the JET program
you might have a school like this or have to bear the things
which my neighbor and friend, Glen, has. Glen's a real trooper...
but last week was a bit too much...
are at it again. Glen's trying to teach his lesson over the
shouting of the kids. Trying to contain pandemonium. Other
students who were wandering the halls stop at the windows
to chat with their friends in the class. One or two students
are trying to sleep at their desks. There are several students
standing outside the classroom shouting, "Fuck You!
Fuck You!" at the teacher and Glen. One student who
was trying to get the foreigner's attention with a mix of
"Fuck you!" and "Harro!" becomes angry
at Glen's refusal to acknowledge him and shouts a stream of
Japanese curses which makes many students go wide-eyed with
shock, the teacher drops her head.
streaks by the door and throws a water balloon inside the
classroom. It misses Glen, but makes a dazzling explosion
on the Japanese teacher's foot. She glances down, perhaps
pauses for a moment, then continues with the lesson. By the
end of class a few more water balloons have made small pools
on the floor. One last balloon at the bell, which narrowly
misses Glen, is the last straw. He bounds out of the door
and the students who were shouting "Fuck you!" take
off down the hall. The student who threw the water balloon
is wide-eyed, exclaiming he didn't throw it, he didn't throw
it. But Glen had seen him. The teacher offers no assistance...
she has no idea who threw the water balloons...
in the day, a group of boys and girls had been playing outside
with water. They entered the teachers' room laughing and smiling,
completely soaked. Yes.. they thought that they were sooo
cool, especially the girls.. because their tops were white
and.. well, you get the picture. They wrung their clothes
out inside the teachers' room making pools of water on the
floor. Then someone pulls out the water balloons. After they
leave, trailing water all down the hallway, a few teachers
mop up the mess.
fact that I absolutely thrive on conflict made me badger Glen
to take some action, to do something about these terrible
working conditions. He refused and said that perhaps it'd
get better... it didn't. On Friday he walked out in the middle
of class, while one student held his desk over his head playfully
threatening to throw it at another and many other students
shouting irrepressibly. The teacher begged him to come back
to class. He marched back to the teachers' room. called our
supervisor, and refused to go back to any third grade classes
at that school ever again (that's 9th grade, North American).
never really understood his reaction. After all, don't they
have to endure this all the time? Isn't this their lot in
life? For some reason, they never truly understand when ALTs
tell them that it shouldn't be like this. That it doesn't
have to be like this.
schools it is nothing like this. Some are run with militaristic-like
discipline, where if your shoes are not standard or do not
have your name on them you are slapped across the top of your
head and scolded to tears. But at schools like Nissin it's
a different story.
schools range somewhere in between. And the morale and students
of the school change every year. My favorite schools when
I first came are now my least favorite. And my least favorite
when I came is now my favorite.
at schools here are as diverse as the students: violence,
prejudice, prostitution (believe it or not, at both junior
and senior high schools), and the complete breakdown of
of their philosophy of the 'Wa' (the Harmony), the
non-confrontationalist philosophy which has sustained their
beautiful culture for centuries, has become a vice, strangling
their children and their future. The problems they face now
they try to ignore, hide and bury. And they are ashamed by
having foreigners witness to the turmoil.
problems are to be resolved, a dramatic change in The System
needs to take place. I hope the people in power come to their
senses sooner rather than later.