Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Hanami and First Class


The petals rain down as we celebrate

Last weekend I got to experience my first ever Hanami (the Japanese tradition of enjoying the beauty of the blossoms) at the lovely Kofu Castle, where there were dozens of cherry trees in bloom and many groups picnicking with their loved ones. We met with the other English teachers that work with our company in the area, and then met up with the YETI group (Yamanshi English Teachers International), where we got a chance to meet about twenty other teachers that had come from around the world to teach here in the Yamanashi Prefecture. It was a great deal of fun to get to meet other new people, as well as people who had been living here for years, including a few Japanese locals who had joined in the group and brought homemade wine. The blossoms were gorgeous, the company was grand, and the alcohol seemed to be never ending.
The bottom level of Kofu Castle

The following week was not filled with quite the same levels of enjoyment though, because I found that there was only going to be one class for me the entire week and the head teacher at my school informed me that he did not think that anyone who did not know the Japanese language would be able to be a successful English teach and that ALTs are "nothing special" anymore, and other fun things that were basically the polite way of saying "you are going to fail." It did not help very much that the day before he said these things I had gotten bored and pieced together from all of the old lesson plans lying around that most teachers at this school have not even lasted 6 months, in fact, the last two ALTs were only there for about 2 months each. On top of that, one of the previous teachers accidentally left behind some notes to herself that said encouraging things about how she was bored every day, felt useless and never really enjoyed it there, and that was from one of the two that had managed to actually stay their full year!

The class I taught went... so-so. Due to it being the first time I had ever taught a 50min class, being nervous, and not having a great grasp on how much time each thing would take, we ended up having to make something up on the spot to fill in the last 10mins of class (shiritori ftw!), but on the plus side, the kids seemed to like me, they think Debu is magical and due to a wonderful mis-translation, they think I know the President. So all in all, it seems that all that is needed is practice and some more courage to make the class a success.

So yes, it should be interesting to see how I manage at this school in the coming months, and I am really hoping that I do not follow the previous teachers examples of leaving before the year is up.

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