Sunday, May 23, 1999: Shakespeare in Love

Today I went out with a girl named Noriko. (She's the sister of a student of mine; we met when her sister invited me over to her house for dinner.) She's really cool, diverse of interests (I mean, come on, she's even studied drama, and in Japan that says a lot). We saw the movie Shakespeare in Love, which is a great movie and I highly recommend it. Afterwards we went to a coffee shop and talked for a couple hours. She will be a good friend, I can tell that already and I've only seen her twice.

After dinner I made a lesson and a quiz (the quiz is about a short talk I'll give about my spring vacation, which admittedly was a long time ago but the teacher wanted me to do it anyway).

Monday, May 24, 1999: And the Answer Is...!

Lesson went well, but the quiz had a few kinks. Most times when I talk it's like the kids are just a wall, and a blank wall at that. Example?

1) In America, Jeff saw:

a) Kitty-chan (Hello Kitty) c) his girlfriend

b) President Clinton d) Kenji (a very generic Japanese name)

I lost count of the number of students who wrote Kitty-chan, President Clinton, and Kenji as their answer. I'd say that they were just having fun with me, but they looked completely serious as they chose their answers. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 25, 1999: The Dreaded Speech

One of the things I hate most about leaving a school or going to a new one is I have to make a speech. Every time. So the result is I'm making a speech every week on average. I hate making speeches... Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm afraid of speaking in public (I used to be an actor, come on) but I just hate making speeches. Every time the principal announces that I have been studying Japanese and that I've prepared a few words to say, which is somewhat true... I have been studying, but my willingness to prepare a witty, humorous few words has grown thin. It didn't go so bad though, and I will miss a couple of the teachers here. All in all, this school wasn't nearly so bad as I thought it would be. It has gotten substantially better. I totally love my icchi nenseis. After school, a couple san nenseis asked me for help with pronunciation (which took almost an hour), but a large group of icchi nenseis waited until I came out of the meeting room. They gave me little notes (in Japanese) and print club and gave me their addresses. They're soooooo adorable! Why do they have to grow up and become bitter and resentful about English?? Why, God, why???

Wednesday, May 26, 1999: Jen

Today was the first day of the conference. The hotel is really nice by Japanese standards. Me and my cohorts were overjoyed to find a "Wendy's" in the basement of the restaurant! It was sooooo good!! We wandered around the city a bit before the opening ceremony started, and actually, there's not too much to see in Kobe. We were told the earthquake (there's not too many signs left that there was one) destroyed a few key sites.

The keynote speech was somewhat interesting but wayyy too long at an hour and a half. The speaker was a black woman who had been living in Japan for 20 years or something like that. She's done some wild traveling too.

I was really worried about today, partially because I'd see a few people who I'm sure I'd ticked off by not keeping in touch (ahhh! Gomen nasia!! I'm so sorry!) One person, I think, was really ticked off and she hardly said three words to me. I still feel like dirt. A gal named Jen, I know her from back home, she wasn't so pissed. It was so good to talk to her again. Whenever I talk to her, the world don't seem like such a bad place after all. Hadn't seen her since late last year, but it seemed like only a month or so.

After the reception we were going to go out and explore the city some more but it started raining.

Thursday, May 27, 1999

Today I went to three workshops (skipped out on the morning's worthless talks). I was completely shocked to find that two of the workshops were really good. The first one I went to was "Classroom Management" (aka "What To Do When A Student Throws His Desk At You"). The second was "Motivation" and the third was "Drama in the Classroom". I actually learned quite a bit. We went to a really cool Indian restaurant for dinner.

Friday, May 28, 1999

For the last day of the conference I went to a Zen master's talk (the only foreigner Zen master in his sect). Made one last mad dash for Wendy's before me and my roommate bolted back for Wakayama. Watched a bit of shogun with some of the other ALTs.

Saturday, May 29, 1999: The Visitation

OK, now, before I explain what happened today I have to explain why I still give out my address to my kids. You see, usually, they just write me cute little letters, send some pictures, or maybe a postcard or two. It's a good way to practice their English and I like getting them. It shows that I have some respect with at least some of the students. But today, at 3:45 pm, five or six icchi nenseis came knocking at my door. I was at my computer at the time (what a shock, eh?) and instead of calling out or just opening up the door for them (I figured it would be my neighbors) I thought I should check this time. Sure enough, there they were. Six little 13 year olds all dolled up. At this point, I looked myself up and down (no shower or shave, and basically looking like a bum (come on! It's my bum day!!)) and gave a quick glance around my apartment (total and complete disaster area). What could I do?? I was freaking out. I couldn't exactly open the door and welcome them in. So I didn't. I just acted like I wasn't home. The kids hung out outside and knocked on my door sporadically for the next hour and a half then went home. I got antsy after the first hour and called my neighbor and asked her to drop a note through my door and tell the kids I was in Kobe or something like that. A prisoner in my own house! I felt soooo guilty, and I still feel guilty, but that's life. If they come again tomorrow, I'll make sure the place is clean and invite them in.

Most schools I work at are too far away for the kids to just drop by. I think I'll keep giving out my address, but just stress the importance of writing letters over visiting.

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