On Tuesday I returned to the same elementary school I have been going to for a year now – and I love it! One thing that one must know about Japanese culture is the concept of お土産 (omiyage) which is the Japanese word for souvenir. Omiyage, candies or other edibles to be shared with co-workers, are big business at Japanese tourist sites and any big station. Whenever you go somewhere, it is automatically expected that you bring back something to give to your co-workers. Omiyage shows the traveler was thinking of the family and community members while away. By convention, it is shameful to arrive or return empty-handed and such acts as going on a vacation away from one’s society could be perceived as selfish or anti-social. I did not go anywhere this summer, besides several visits to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, so I did not have anything to give as a gift. Not wanting to disappoint, I instead backed somewhere around 200 peanut butter cookies to give.
After getting all the omiyage explained to us, it was time for lunch…after speeches. Another thing about Japan is that everything has to have an opening ceremony, a closing ceremony, and a bunch of random speeches thrown in the middle. I had to give a speech about what I did during summer vacation (DISNEY!) and then some words about elementary school English. After speeches were finished, we finally got to eat lunch and try some of the omiyage. Everything was delicious.
Yesterday was my first day at my new elementary school and I was only slightly freaking out about it due to the first impression my boss gave them of me being a hussy and telling the schools that I was sexually harassed because “I did not dress appropriately.” OK, he did not outright say that, but that was the impression I got from his little speech. I was relieved to find that when I arrived at the school that the principal was waiting for me with a smile are her face and my shoe locker decorated. I was then taken into the office where everyone was running around getting ready for first period. After settling down at my desk, I was suddenly summoned to the PA system and asked to address the entire school – and the surrounding area it would seem. I ended up being dorky and saying good morning and something about being happy to be at their school and see all their smiling faces. Oops.
I spent the entire day doing self-introductions. I ended up spicing things up this time around and turned things into a quiz show so the kids were not just sitting their staring at me with blank stares. It ended up going over much better than I expected and half-way through the day I was told that I had an entire classroom to use at my will if I wanted to. I checked with the head teacher for the 5th graders today to see if that classroom is going to be used for English class only, and she said that is the plan. I have the serious need and desire to decorate ☆ｳｷ（p。・A・q）（p・A・。q）ｳｷ☆ I only have one class at my Jr. high school tomorrow, so I plan on making some decorations then.
All in all, I am very impressed with this new elementary school (Kawagoe Dai-ichi Elementary School) and I think that I am going to really like it there. The funny thing is that the first 10 – 15 minutes of each class was spent with the kids just staring at me with big sparkly anime eyes. Apparently, this school has not had a female ALT for some 10 years or so now, so I was more than just a foreigner teacher, but a SUPER interesting foreign teacher. Now, I am nothing special to look at, but these kids were just falling all over me and asking me if I was popular with the guys and “how did you get so pretty?!” Gotta love elementary school kids, right?
Glad to know I made a good first impression! I had 4 classes yesterday, but tomorrow I have 6 today and I am dead tired. I usually only teach 5th and 6th graders, but this school would like me to go to the other classes to teach American culture as opposed to English, so I am making an American culture quiz to try on the 4th grade class tomorrow. It’s a true and false quiz done in pairs where I will say a statement like “In America, the school year starts in April.” and the kids slap which card they think is correct. I also included this game in my self introduction to make things more interactive and fun for the kids.
Now, I think I am going to make some dinner, shower, and sleep.