Night Patrol Teacher cont.

Chapter 5: The Unatonable Mistake
Takashi was in a motorcycle gang.

When he was a freshman in high school I met him in the kingdom of night.

Becoming a full-fledged gangster had been Takashi’s dream since he was in junior high school, so he was overjoyed to partake in a motorcycle gang’s meeting.

Takashi said “Ketsumochi*!” and drove to the very back of the group in front of the pursuing patrol cars to serve as an obstruction.

Within a motorcycle gang ketsumochi is the most honorable thing a gang member can do and the most hated by the police.

In any case, both his friends and myself had the unchanging opinion that he was a very gently person.
When speaking of motorcycle gangs, most people raise an eyebrow in detest. However, I have always thought of them as victims. They (the children that make up the gangs) are ignored by their parents, teachers, and society and live without being embraced in the light of day.

It is because of this that they, even if it is foolish, see to find self expression in joining a gang.

If these children give up to the isolation forced on them by society, society in turn crushes them.
The truth is that he (Takashi) lied a poor life with his father.

When we was three year old, he lost his mother and his father continually beat him. If there was ever something that bothered or trouble his father, his father would quickly extinguish his cigarette on Takashi’s bare skin. It is because of this that the entirety of his back was burnt and scarred. The scars were the cause of bullying and Takashi hardly went to elementary school to avoid being bullied. What’s more, he looked at the world with tainted eyes and began walking down the path of delinquency.

Takashi was horribly wild and rough. He would provoke the police in front of their own station and seek fights with patrol cars as part of his daily routine. These hang-like acts were not done half-heartedly.
Every time I would meet with Takashi, I would mention is good points and attempt to show him that he could live differently. However, Takashi had so much pride in his motorcycle gang member self that he would not listen at all. For him, the only place that acknowledged him was that gang, and my hopes could not come true easily.

On day, Takashi came to me with a pale face.

“Sensei…what should I do…?”

This is what happened three months after he had joined the motorcycle gang.

Takashi was too poor to be able to buy his own bike, so he always rode on the back of one of his
senpai’s bike.
However, Takashi could not feel satisfied with this, so his senpai told him, “it’s no big deal, just steal money from a bank or post office.”

Takashi was panicked.

Senpai, that’s bad (not a good idea). At post offices and banks there are security cameras…they would quickly see my face and catch me.”

“Not inside the bank, stupid. You would steal money from the people who just left. Target the old people who seem to be protecting their bags more than the others. It’s right after payday now, so there is probably a lot of money in their accounts. I’ll distract them with my bike while you grab their bag from behind.”

Takashi took everything his senpai said in and did it.

The next day around lunch, an old woman exited a post office parallel to a national highway. She lived with just her husband and on this day had decided to take home 180,000 yen of her retirement money home. That money was her entire life’s savings.

Takashi, not knowing these circumstances, mislead this old woman and took all her money. His senpaigave the signal and threw his bike forward. Takashi took the seat behind his senpai and without hesitation took her bag. The old woman cried, “STOP!” and clung desperately to their bike.
As a result, this small act of opposition proved lethal.

She clung onto the bike for about seven meters until her head hit a guard rail.

The accident was written up in the next day’s morning newspaper and all I could think on my way to work was, “I hope it was not one of my students who did this.”

However, Takashi came to visit me. I knew the moment I saw his face that one of the criminals I had read about this morning was Takashi. His face was blue and his entire body trembled.

“You…You did it?”

When I began to ask, Takashi became unable to stand and collapsed on the spot.

“Sensei…what should I do…?”

“You know what you should do. Even in elementary school you learned that you have to take ownership of the things you do, no matter the consequences. You can’t run away.”

Then Takashi said this.

“Sensei, I’ll turn myself in. Could you please take me to the police?”

I took him by the head and shook him.

“Hold on a minute. You are a criminal now, so it is only obvious that you will turn yourself in. But, before you became a criminal you were my friend, a student, and a human being. You still are those things. So, as a human being, before turning yourself in isn’t there something you should do?”

At this, Takashi dropped his head and thought hard for 10 minutes.

“Sensei, I want to go and apologize. I want to go and visit (her).”

I was very happy (to hear him say this).

Even Takashi had been left with a heart.

I called an acquaintance of mine who was a reporter and went with Takashi to the hospital where the old woman was being treated. After more than 24 hours after the accident she had shown no progress and was still being kept in intensive care (ICU). In front of her bed sat one lonely small old man.

I knew at that moment that he was her only family.

When Takashi saw the feeble old man, he whimpered slightly and began to run towards him, throwing himself at the man’s feet. He then looked back and forth between the bed and the old man before he continued.

“I’m sorry, I did it, I’m so sorry.”

Takashi had cut his forehead while doing this and there were now several drops of blood on the floor.
But the old man did not say a word. He did not even open his mouth.

The treatments were to no avail and the old woman died of a cerebral contusion.

Takashi was charged with murder and robbery and would have to pay for his crimes.

Even now I cannot suppress my feelings of guilt for Takashi. If only Takashi had had a warm family, I have confidence that that accident would have never happened.

Takashi was another victim of adult neglect and abuse.

*Ketsumochi literally translates to “holding your butt” or “holding the rear.” It is the act of driving really slowly in front of pursuing police cars as a means to slow down their attack on the gang – giving the rest of the gang enough time to escape.

ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ

I know, my translations for this book are never really happy. However, what Mizutani-san writes about are all very important stories – stories that most of Japanese society refuse to recognize. That is why he wrote this book, to open society’s eyes to the problems that are existing right now and to warn everyone, even children, that these stories and situations could happen to anyone. He just wants people to become more aware of how our actions or lack of action affects and effects everything and everyone around us. It really is a fascinating book to read. I am about half way through this book and will start translating another book (1 Litre of Tears) when I have finished. Sorry, next book is going to be a downer as well.

ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ

In other news, it is almost Golden Week in Japan, and that means lots of vacation time for me! Yay! Maybe I will have a short post about Golden Week a little later (aka once I get home from work). For me, it means I have about two weeks of no work (I am taking some added paid vacation days) because my mommy is coming to Japan and staying with me during that time (Hi Mom!). Next post on my list is a picture post of a shrine I pass on my way to work and maybe a post about how I do laundry in Japan (mostly because I know my parents are curious).

Junior High School Bukatsu

Something interesting happened at my junior high school on Friday. It was apparently the day that students had to decide which school club activity (bukatsu 部活)they wanted to participate in. Until Friday, and this is mostly for the first year students, students were able to check out a different club every day. I am not sure about the other students, but first year students were given a piece of paper with a weekly schedule written on it and they were supposed to fill out which club they went to on each day and get that club’s head teacher’s hanko to show that they were actually there. At least their first year, it appears that (at least at the junior high school I work at) that students must participate in a club activity. Club activities are so so so important for Japanese students. Just for fun, I also participate in a club at my school – I’m in the soccer club.

Whenever Japanese junior high and high school students are called upon to introduce themselves, they invariably mention the school sport or activity clubs to which they belong. School club activities start as a part of formal curriculum from fifth and sixth grades of elementary school. In junior high schools there are two types of club activities — those that are part of the formal curriculum and are compulsory, and extracurricular clubs which are optional. The latter are more active in high schools. One survey shows that more than sixty percent of high school students in Japan take part in a school club of some type. The clubs provide opportunities for students to enjoy their hobbies, improve particular skills, and discipline themselves in the process. For many students, clubs are even more important as a way to get to know students in different classes or grades and forge lasting friendships. In order to fulfill specific educational policies or create a distinctive school image, some schools emphasize particular kinds of clubs – my junior high school seems to think a lot of its male and female volleyball teams and the baseball team. For example, some schools seek to strengthen their athletics clubs by attracting suitably talented students from all over the country under a recommendation-based enrollment system. Of course, there are also many students who prefer to pursue interests outside school rather than join a school club, as well as schools where club activities in general are not very popular.

At most schools, clubs are classified as extracurricular activities. Essentially they are managed by the students themselves, led by a club president supported by other club officers such as vice-president and manager. Normally club presidents are students in the higher grades. Guidance is usually given by members of the school teaching staff acting as supervisors or coaches, and sometimes by ex-members-third-year students or graduates who visit their old clubs for practice. Clubs also include representatives from the teaching staff who act as advisors, act as liaisons between the club and the school authorities, and supervise the club’s other external affairs. At most schools, club activities are held after school and, at my school, students practice every day. Most clubs practice for two or three hours after school, though a few opt for morning sessions ( called asa-ren 朝練 ) – my school does both afternoon and morning session. In sports and athletics clubs, practice matches and official matches are held on weekends and holidays. During summer vacation, some clubs hold training camps ( about a week long ) or other intensive practice / activity sessions. Training camps may consist of overnight stays at the school or trips to summer retreats or other facilities equipped for the particular club’s activities.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, I was amused at the process for how students decided which club to participate in. First, each homeroom teacher handed out colored paper to each student (green for first year students, red for second year students, and green for third year students). The colored papers match the color associated with each grade (their track suits are these colors). Students then wrote which club they wanted to participate in as well as their goals and worries about participating in that club. Meanwhile, in the teacher’s room, the following was done:

Each of those folders has the name of a club written on the front and they are tapped to the desks of the school’s principal, vice principal, the social studies teacher, and head science teacher. The next picture is how the first 30 minutes of work happened:

This might not be the most interesting of things to talk about, but just the image of all the folders and then the teachers putting colored pieces of paper in those folders was really amusing to me.

早口言葉: Japanese Tongue Twisters

What can I say, I am at work right now and for the first time in a while I have two periods in a row with no classes to teach. Using the new elementary school English textbook makes it so that my free time is very free indeed as there is no prep I can really do.

Anyway, I started teaching English tongue twisters to my elementary school students as a way to help them improve their pronunciation. This month’s tongue twister is “Black Bug’s Blood” at least three times fast, but five if they can handle it. This mainly resulted the students erupting into fits of laughter at their own pronunciation and listening to their neighbor’s pronunciation. Needless to say, it was a success and their homework was to practice it and have it memorized by the next lesson. I am hoping to have a little contest between the lunch groups. I am trying to make this a monthly thing, but I would like it to be an every two week thing and then do something with all the tongue twisters they have learned at the end of the year.

Teaching English tongue twisters got me thinking that maybe I should post some Japanese tongue twisters here on my blog. Japanese call tongue twisters 早口言葉 (quick mouth words) and, just like in English, their tongue twisters make just about as much sense as their English equivalents. With that being said, I thought I would start with an easy one and make them a little more difficult with each passing week.

So, here is this week’s 早口言葉:

Hiragana : ばずがすばかはつ
Romaji : Basu gasu bakuhatsu.
Translation : The gasoline of the bus exploded

When I get home tonight, I will post a sound file here.

Japanese TV Can Sometimes Annoy Me

Something I had noticed before when I was an exchange student, but forgotten until the recent addition of a TV to my apartment, is Japan’s annoying trend of showing the same thing over and over and over again on TV. I am not talking about commercials (although some of those are annoying as well), but news stories. Not only do Japanese repeat themselves constantly, but when they have a reaction to something in the news, it is never small.

Now, in general unless you have a dish installed you get the basic six nationwide television networks – no more than 10 channels. This may sound ridiculous to us Americans who are used to our 80+ some channels, but I have to admit that having fewer channels makes it easier for me to figure out and decide what it is I want to watch. While Japanese television is narrowed down to a more user friendly system…when it really matters it is far too narrow and there can be downright no variety.

Allow me to back up to the Olympics this past summer. I had just moved to Japan (see post about my empty apartment) but had managed to get internet installed in my apartment in time for the Olympics. For some unknown reason, all American news sites (CNN…NBC…you name it) had their live video feeds blocked to residents outside the US. So, here I was wanting nothing more than to cheer on my country from overseas, but unable to do so because I had been blocked for living in another country. Talk about unfair! I found hope in my cell phone. My phone gets free Japanese TV as it is included in my 2 year plan. I therefore watched the opening ceremony on my (about) 2 inch by 3 inch screen and was excited to watch some sporting events the next day. What I found was that every channel in Japan was showing the same event and that if Japan was not competing in the event, it was not broadcasted. There went my hopes of watching any soccer games… To make matters worse, the news recaps were of the same events that they had been broadcasting all day. I have no idea how many times I tuned in to see another replay of a judo match. I quickly gave up on watching any of the Olympics and settled for reading news updates.
The most recent story to have taken over Japanese television is about Tsuyoshi Kusanagi of the pop group SMAP being found drunk and naked in a public park in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning while screaming “What is wrong with being naked?!” and things in Korean. Seriously…this is all that the news talks about recently…and it is driving me crazy. There are headlines everywhere saying “Japan aghast over drunk TV star’s naked blunder!” and “Butt Naked SMAP Star Arrested For Indecency – Japan Zone” and as one newspaper put it: The Japanese media world has been plunged into chaos by the humiliating arrest of Tsuyoshi Kusanagi — a member of SMAP, the biggest, best-loved and most successful boy band in Japanese pop history. (you can read the article here: TimesOnline.
Ok, I understand that he is famous and no one would have guess that he would have become so drunk that he would strip down naked in a park, but not remember how he got there or why he became naked, but it is really necessary to show the EXAXT same news footage 24/7? I am not exaggerating that different news programs use the same footage and just about the same commentary making it impossible to get a different opinion or scoop on the situation. My boyfriend and I have settled for turning off the TV every time his face shows up on screen. In the past two days, a one hour news program has had about 30 minutes dedicated to the poor guy. All of Japan is just in HUGE shock at this – my students asked me if I had seen the news recently and some of the girls were almost in tears over it.

Which bring me to my next point, Japanese overreact to things. I do not mean this in a drama queen way, but rather that when Japanese find something amusing or funny, they want to make absolutely sure that everyone around them knows that they think it is amusing or funny. I was talking with a fellow ALT about our self introductions we do at schools and a little about the new 英語ノートthe other day, and we both mentioned how students will use the very Japanese “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH” in unison as if it were planned when something surprises them. Really, I wish I had video of my students reaction when I showed them a picture of the famous banana slug of Santa Cruz – HUEG reaction. It’s not just kids that show this kind of behavior either, my teachers show just as much reaction as the students do, and sometimes their reactions are even more over the top that the student’s.

What is Japan such a “big reaction” society? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, it makes it really easy to know when you made a killer lesson at Japanese elementary schools.

Night Patrol Teacher cont.

Chapter 4: The Sad Coming of Age Ceremony
I met a 19-year-old boy. In a terrible downpour, I found him dressed in ragged clothes curled in a ball under a pedestrian bridge on an old futon. He had the vacant eyes of someone addicted to drugs.
When I called out to him he shouted, “you are fucking annoying! Go somewhere else!” back at me. I sat down next to him and, as I did, he began to leave the spot where he sat. Then it happened. The young boy began coughing violently and fell over while foaming at the mouth. I quickly attempted to secure his respiratory track and called an ambulance.

The next morning, the young boy, by luck, had regained consciousness and was able to talk with me while he rested in his bed. He said he knew of the night school I worked at and slowly began to talk about himself.

His mother has passed away when he was in his early years of elementary school. After he graduated from Jr. high, his father quickly remarried and moved in with his new wife – leaving his son. After that, the boy went to Tokyo where he began working and living at a sushi restaurant. However, because of his severe coughing fits induced by asthma, he was fired. Even after this, his father would not take him in and instead gave him a meager allowance while his son lived a homeless life.

As I listened to the boy calmly explain his situation, I felt a tug in my chest. He bore no grudge against his parents.

I quickly began doing everything I could (lit. working) for him. I filed his social welfare papers, found him a appropriate apartment, and got him a working mail address. At the same time, I took him to a hospital to get proper treatment for his severe asthma.

It took hardly any time at all for him to fully recover.

He had a good handle on a stable life style, was accepted to his dream high school, and studied very hard for his future. With the money he saved from his part time job, he was slowly able to buy all his furniture and household effects.

Around the time he finally built a real and stable lifestyle, he also found a girlfriend – a high school student who worked at the same part time job as him.

Their love was cute. The three of us had dinner together once, and the two of them were always fidgeting in a manner that was heartwarming.

Next year would have been his coming of age ceremony. With his saved money he bought himself a new suit and I gave him a new necktie as a gift.

“Sensei, even someone like me can find happiness.”

He said that as he clumsily fastened his necktie with a smile.

I was so happy that all I could do was nod over and over again.

Some time after that he came to the decision that he wanted to work more so he could get off social welfare. Certainly, he was thinking of being able to stand on his own two feet and be able to live with and take care of his girlfriend with his own strength as quickly as possible. But, his medial treatments did not yield the results we had all hoped for.

ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ .♡.ღ .:*・゚♡゚・*:.ღ

While Mizutani-sensei does not say that the boy died, from what I could understand (especially in the last sentence) is that he did pass away because of his severe coughing attacks.

So, the school year has started again and I am now in week two of teaching. I have quickly realized that with this new work schedule (literally 5 classes everyday) that the current work shoes I have (PUMA flats) are not up to par with a standing job.

At the Jr. high, things are pretty much as they were last term. The biggest change is that over half of the teaching staff is gone and I know over 2/3 of the first year class because I taught them when they were elementary school students.

At the elementary school, all of Japan is being forced to use a new English textbook called 英語ノート (eigo noto) that I absolutely cannot stand. Not all of it is bad, but the overall organization and theme with each lesson is not clear and the “games” they have listed are hardly games at all. This means a lot of quick thinking on my part to change things just a little to make the activities and the lesson more enjoyable for the students. Of course, this naturally means that I am making even more of a fool of myself than I was last school year. The teachers I am working with at the elementary school are all very kind and only one of them is a new teacher. Two of them were 5th and 6th graders last year and one of them was a 1st grade teacher. The five of us are trying to work together on how to make the best of a forced situation, and I am writing reviews of each lesson based on my thoughts, the teacher’s thoughts, and student reactions to each piece of the lesson. Hopefully, someone with take hold of what I write and suggest and make some small changes to the lesson plan which is apparently going to go through total remake next year…

I do a post showing this new textbook soon so you all can see what I am talking about and maybe post a few of the original lesson plans and then the lesson plans I made with a few changes.

Night Patrol Teacher cont.

Chapter 3: A Broken Girl

This is a story of something that happened in 1993. A student begged me to “Please do something to help this girl,” so I met her.

The color of her face was terrible, around her eyes were dark circles, and it was clear that her appearance was that of someone with a dependence on drugs. Furthermore, her lips were torn and her eyes and cheeks vividly showed that she had been severely beaten recently.

When I offered to call the police or an ambulance for her, she stopped me with desperate effort.
I listened to her reasons and was shaken.

These awful acts, the one who had done such violent things to her, was none other than her father.
She was an only child whose father was a government official who had lost his mind to drinking and gambling. His family life had also completely collapsed because of his actions. When asked about her childhood memories, she could only speak of going to the horse track, or bike track, or harbor where her father would be on the races, and of her mother’s crying figure are her father yelled and beat her. When she was in elementary school, her mother began working in a Snack (think like Strip Clubs with karaoke) in attempt to salvage household expenses. In the end she ended up running away and eloping with one of her regular customers. What’s worse, the girl then had no choice but to live alone with her father. When she was entering her first year of Jr. high school, her father began sexually assaulting her. He continued his abuse for many many years. Every time he returned home drunk, he would deliver more and more abuse onto her. If she fought him, he would move to more drastic forms of violence.

Soon, she joined a (juvenile) gang. There she was introduced to paint thinner and, to heal the pain in her body and heart inflicted on her by her father, she used it. What’s more, she sometimes used sex hotlines to sell her body to men and used the money to buy more paint thinner. As to not be caught by the police, she could only sniff paint thinner at home. Her father never stopped her usage either. For him, when she was high on paint thinner, it meant that she would not and could not oppose his sexual advances and abuse.

In this reality two years passed. During that time she had two abortions because of her father’s constant sexual abuse. Living in this terrible life made her leave her home twice to seek out the mother who threw her away. There, in her mother’s new home, she felt uncomfortable and unwanted, so she felt she had no choice but to return to her father.

Around the time she graduated from Jr. high school, her father’s lived failed because of over drinking and he quit his job. Due to a lack of income, the girl could not enter high school, but instead began working at a boxed lunch shop. At the same time she worked nights at a Snack found by her father. The Snack was his favorite one, and he came nearly every night to drink and paid for his drinks in advance from her paycheck. She never saw her paycheck (lit. she never touched her paycheck).

Her father’s abuse escalated. If he didn’t like something, he would get angry at her, kick her, and all out attack her. Cut off from the rest of the world, she couldn’t ask anyone for help, so she continued to live out these hellish days.

When I heardher story, there was no way to calm my spirit. I immediately called a child abuse center and took her there. There I explained that her father was the worst kind of criminal who could not be considered human and did not allow a human existence on his own daughter. She never agreed nor disagreed to my statements (lit. she never moved her head). She remained under the protection of the center while the police made a move on her father.

She then remained under the warm protection there for a month of pure safety. She looked after the other children there and soon they began calling her their “older sister.”

“Sensei, this is the first time I have been able to sleep peacefully.”

When she said this, I thought about her life until then and became sad.

Her father’s investigation by the police proved his violent acts and sexual abuse. The police strongly encouraged her to press charges, but she ultimately could not take any action against her father. While the police and myself felt extremely disappointed, no matter what we said or did her decision would not change.

We called her mother to the child abuse center and informed her of the matter at hand, but she broke our hope with her “I can’t damage the good life I have now, so I cannot and will not take her back” attitude.
After a month of being admitted to the center at the recommendation of the staff she began working as a nurse’s assistant. The following year she entered a night high school I had recommended and made it her one goal to get her nursing qualification. Just like a fish put back into water she was reborn and did her best. She washed her hands of paint thinner, cut herself off from her old gang friends, and began walking a new life. I was very happy and proud. Once a week, on her vacation day, we would meet for dinner and talk about many things, but I soon began to see the brightness in her eyes fading.
Then this happened to her.

After her first month working at the hospital, I received a phone call from her in tears.

“Sensei, this morning a patient I became close with passed away. Until now I have been in the morgue praying. I…to help their soul reach heaven…I opened the morgue window a little.”

Being touched by her natural kindness, I felt a pinch in my chest.

The truth is, about half a year later, something in her changed. Around that time I began receiving less and less phone calls from her. What’s more, every time I would offer to meet with her, she would brush me off with “I can’t because I’m tired.” I became worried and called the head nurse at the hospital she worked at. It was then I learned that she had not gone into work recently.

I then went to visit her dorm but she was no where to be found. No matter how long I wanted, she never returned home. I waited at the entrance of the dorm in my car until morning for her. When dawn broke, she arrived in the car of a middle aged gang member. When I saw his face, I knew he was not a good person.

I invited her into my own car where the two of us talked. At first she said this:

“Everyone is playing and having fun…am I the only one not allowed to do so? Am I not allowed to fall in love? In the afternoon, I put all my energy into my work, having a little time to do what I want is a good thing, right?”

“If that’s the case, it’s fine to play. But, is 16 really an age where that behavior is appropriate?”

“Even though everyone else does….sensei…you are terrible.”

That was the type of cry she had. No matter how much I tried to reason with her, she would never hear me out.

It soon became time for her to leave for work, so I told her, “At any rate, today you should go to work at the hospital and return back to your dorm as quickly as possible.” The next day we would try to speak again.

However, after this day she disappeared.

I searched desperately for her, but I could not find her. I regret that I did not ask her her boyfriend’s name or gang hangout.

The next time we were able to meet was three years after our initial meeting.

She was being taken care of at a hospital and has asked to borrow her friend’s health insurance card over the phone. That friend then called me.

I then accompanied that friend to the spot they were meeting her at and we were reunited.
It was as if she had been expecting me to come, and she explained everything that had happened since her disappearance.

She had run off to a different middle aged man’s apartment. He was a member of a gang and was a stimulant drug dealer. There, she was crammed with drugs and sold into prostitution. From her customers she received a serious STD.

“I was always searching for you, but I couldn’t find you. I was always praying that you at least could find happiness with your boyfriend.”

She dropped her head and spoke to me in a small voice.

“But, it is already too late for me. Look at what I have become. I have no where to go.”

“That’s not true. What do you want to do? Do you want to try and start over again with me? First, we have to get the proper medication to treat your disease.”

I took her to a hospital with a medical expert on STDs where we explained her situation and she was admitted to the urgent care ward.

Two months passed peacefully. Because of her strong wish, I did not attempt to lay a finger on her recent boyfriend. When she finished her treatment, she then entered a drug dependency prevention program. In terms of her life style, she was under the protection of a public welfare institute and specially trained human relations doctors, so all there was left was to wait for her to be released from the hospital.
However, she again vanished.

She disappeared with a middle aged man she met at a drug dependency prevention meeting.
At that time, I finally took notice of something. She had been seeking out men who were treating her with the same kindness that her father had. She had been longing for the same attention and love, no matter how sick the notion. For I, who had never thought about the effect of her emotional trauma, had done nothing but move her around. I had not realized what the real problem was. I do not regret that it took me so long to realize this, I only felt how powerless I was. What could I possible do to help her?
Two year later, she came to see me again.

I felt like she did not have a well put together face, but she still appeared before me. She was certainly seeking me. Just because of this, I was able to feel happy.

“Sensei, will you still look after me? Will you not abandon me?”

“Of course. Ok, let’s try to start over again.”

At present, we still communicate on a regular basis. She fell in love with a young man whom I trusted, got married, and is doing her best to raise a beautiful child.

The three of them seem to be creating a very warm home.

Fits Gum Dance for 1 Million yen…

So, this it totally random but worth a share. I spent last Tuesday with my host family from JSP and came to realize how much and how little my two younger siblings have changed. When my middle host brother, Ryu, came home from his soccer practice, he immediately grabbed my younger sister, An-chan, to practice a dance. Now, this dance I have seen on TV almost everyday (Japan plays a lot of the same ones ALL THE TIME) because it is a dance from a gum commercial. Now, apparently this gum company, called Fits, is having a contest to see who an perform the dance the best and receive a 1 million yen prize. The first video is of the actual dance followed by one of the practice sessions with my siblings (they were practicing for 2 hours).

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