June 1998 – email3

Subject: Strange stuff… nah, of course not.

        It’s as if things could only get worse. Then, it’s as if things could only get better. Sound familiar? That’s the kind of stuff we seem to go through during that daily existence thing. Kinda a bummer huh. Such is the way. I am glad to report that I am not going to go into this anymore. end.

        Yes things over here have been more than normal. I’ve been having some interesting experiences though. I’ve wanted to leave, then wanted to go to class, then wanted to study, then wanted to go outside and play some sort of sport with the kids, etc… Ut has been a blast/tragedy all roled into one. What a cool thing. I’ll be livin this up later on. I think. Indeed I’ve gone way down, and way up – it’s the only way to travel. : )  I’ve recently been doing both in moderate durations – kinda wild.

        Something that is fun is the fact that there are only… how many… 6 weeks till I depart. Is that right? (counting) Yeah, that’s right. WOW! It seems to go by without anythought. What a world. I’ve been thinking about my attitude recently and can’t pinpoint where it is. I feel free as the infamous bird we always refer to, but restricted at the same time. I feel, that’s all — I feel. Such is the way, I’ve said that toooo many times.

        I like Japan. Thought I’d state that because I don’t think I have as of yet. I had a thought, but can’t seem to find it. Argh! How about a story? Now if I could only read your mind and offer it to you if you thought yes…. Maybe that’s the next thing to hit the ‘net’. Hey, it could happen. What’s next? I wish I could remember. I’ll leave it be for a little while. Bye.

        (Time passes for me, not you. LUCKY PEOPLES!!!) A day has passed since I last typed and I now remember what I wanted to write about — desks and black boards.

        Don’t sit on the desk because it’s not very strong.

        Please write that prettier please. oh yeah… you can buy one egg at the local convienience store. I bid you to read the subject title again….

        Since I arrived in Asaka I’ve been doing little things that would show the differences in my home country (the US) and this country – especially in the classroom. I’ve done things that some teachers are quite surprised by — nothing shocking to people that have attended schools in the states though. The most recent that took me by surprise was by a teacher that told me to get off of a desk.

        I was sitting on the desk waiting for him to finish his explaination of the new material and upon completion he came over to me and told me to “get off the desk. It’s rude to sit on a desk…” I had no idea how to react to this for the reason that I’ve been doing this particular act since I arrived in JPN/Asaka/the classroom last year (97).

        After class he told me that the desk was “not strong” so I should be careful sitting on the desk. I let him finish and explained why I was doing it and he didn’t like my answer saying “This is Japan, so you shouldn’t sit on the desk.” I explained a little more of how I was trying to show the students that things are different in different parts of the world, but he wasn’t havin’ it.

        By the way, this desk that is “not strong” is the same desk that the teachers use to pile books upon piles of books upon. These desks are quite strong. Being made of metal helps a bit. In my opinion he was reaching realllly far to say something politely to me, but it only confused me more.

        I told him that I wouldn’t sit on the desk in his class, and only his class for the reason that no other teachers have made a deal about it. Some teachers hide in the back of the room allowing the students to watch and see everything I do… sit on the desk, bring a student up to the front to help me – only to leave them all alone in the front to do the activity, leave the classroom for a few minutes when a student says something like “go away”, or “good bye.”  I want them to see that there is something different. If I have to bend for one teacher, so be it — though it confuses me a bit when my job is not what it’s supposed to be….. strange….   next.

        This goes along the line of the previous story. I wrote something on the blackboard in class one day. NOTE: my penmanship isn’t the neatest in the world. Probably not in kindergarten class, but whose keeping score?  : )

        I wrote some stuff on the board and wrote a ‘u’ without the tail on it.  I also wrote a “y” with a loop underneath. Lastly within this grouping of words was a “g”, also with a loop underneath. The teacher asked me afterclass if I could write neater next time. I asked to what he was refering to and he pointed out the ‘u’.  He said “Last year when I corrected the students papers I would circle the u’s without the tail on it, meaning it was wrong.” I said ok, and…  His reply was “I also marked the ‘y’ wrong if it wasn’t written with straight lines.”

        I was at a loss for words for about….. how longs a nanosecond? It wasn’t that long. I said to him that I know my penmanship is not great, but the students need to be exposed to various different forms of written English. Everbody writes in a different way. Everbody doesn’t have the same penmanship, they need to expereience it. If they have a question, we can only hope that the students will ask. They need to ask if they don’t understand. He agreed with that point.

        His basic comparision of the ‘y’ and ‘g’ was to the loop on the bottom. After we talked about it he agreed that the students should see the difference — a happy ending. I did take in to consideration the request to write ‘prettier’. I didn’t change my penmanship, but I did write a little slower so it was a little neater. This was a good thing. A true working relationship. How about that. He wanted the students to see something different. How about that…. yeah.

        A strange thing it is to be brought to a country to teach your countries culture, lifestyle, etc… only to have it stopped so you conform to what is being done… Strange stuff. I hope that this kind of thig is the exception and not the norm for other AET’s, but who knows what’s really happening. It all up to us to say something, so speak up to somebody, anybody and get the word moving along vs. stuck bouncing around in your head.

        If you have already, nicely done! Let’s keep improving this program so that the beneficiaries include everyone. From students, to teachers, to the people in our communities, to us, etc. Let’s do it up.

        The egg thing is just a good laugh. I was in “Sunevery”, a convienience store near the station in Asaka, and looked up to see eggs. The only difference that these particular eggs had with the ‘normal’ egss that I’ve seen was that they were individually packaged! There they lay in wait, two eggs hopeing to be bought asap. How touching, together they lay in wait. What would happen when one was taken away? Would one become take the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ route? Or would it wait, perfectly still until moved by some unsuspecting customer came along and brightened up it’s day. Would it happen? Could it happen? Only time will tell, for this reporter won’t be back to visit that same store in time to see them off. I only hope they are happy, wherever they are. A moment of silence for the pair of eggs in Sunevery.     –a moment–      — thank you– have a crazy day. ciao cito

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