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The Morning Report April 18, 2008

Posted by Mitch in General, Life in Japan.

So, the first week back at school is drawing to a close. To be honest, I’ve had worse weeks, so there’s nothing to moan about. I’ve been getting accustomed to my new place (where all the teachers watch me as I play games and ask me about the rules and kids wander in and chat with my friends (through me) on MSN) and the new faces. There’s a new English teacher as well. Joining myself, the ever-infamous Julie and the shy-and-retiring Martin is a new friendly face in the form of Karen. Karen used to work with Lucy, but the powers that be saw it necessary to bring her to Kuga Junior High School. In Japan, a teacher doesn’t really get the choice of where they teach. They are government officials and so, if the government in question decides that they want you on the other side of the prefecture, you move. You move job, you move house, you move responsibilities. Basically, once you become a teacher, your ass is theirs.

But Karen seems to be settling in well. She’s in charge of teaching the new first graders who I’ve been teaching for the past 8 months at my two Elementary schools (for the record, the ESIDL is actually OK, but I feel there’s a need to distinguish between the two schools and so the acronym remains). They like her and are getting used to her new classroom manner which, as they’re new, they would have had to do anyway. In our most recent classes together, I’ve been testing them on the things I’ve been going over for the past 6 months (the first couple of months, my lessons were absolute crap, where I fell back on colouring in and the like which, let’s face it, isnt’ very good practice in English. But, what can I say? I was new and had never had to plan an entire class myself – it took me a while to get a proper momentum) just to make sure they hadn’t entirely forgotten everything. I’ve got to say, the kids did me proud by, on the most part, remembering everything we’d covered.

There are quite a few new faces actually. I was formally introduced to one of the new Vice Principals the other day. His name is Steve and it was going very well and I was the epitome of confused, yet respectful gaijin (foreigner). It was then that he chose to reach out his hand and pat my stomach. All traces of formality dissipated and I felt like punching him in the face. Of course, I didn’t but, this being Japan, I’m not sure how the other people would have reacted. They may have just looked on with bemused horror, rather than rushing to restrain the violent, erratic white boy in their school.

Yesterday held no less than three encounters with Japanese nature for me. The first was the appearance of a mukade in one of my classes. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned them before, but mukade are the poisonous centipedes whose bites have been known to kill babies and old people. Apparently, if you wake up and one is on your face, you have to wait until it decides to scuttle off, lest it bites you. So one of those strolled into the class and caused a bit of a stir, not least because Martin is shit scared of them too. One of the boys got a ruler and flicked it out, managing not to get bitten in the process. The second encounter was with the giant wasp that decided to set up home outside my window. Brooke informs me that it takes less than 10 of these wasps to destroy a hive of 30,000 bees. So, for the past couple of days I’ve watched this wasp lay her eggs and attach it to my window. Even though it grossed me out, I knew I would have to nip this in the bud before an entire nest appeared and I was beset by killer wasps, so yesterday, frustrated with my Hamleteqsue procrastination, I grabbed a flip-flop and decimated an entire family. The third instance was as I was leaving my house for the station. As I opened my front gate, something fell off it and scampered underneath so I couldn’t see it. As I slowly eased the gate open I discovered that the cause of my vexation was a small, sandy-coloured lizard. It was actually quite cute, but had scared the bejeezus out of me. As it clambered my wall, I noted that it was, in fact, the exact same colour as the outside wall of my apartment. I don’t know if it was a colour-changing lizard or if it was naturally that colour, but I kind of hope it’s the former. I don’t mind having a chameleon-like neighbour.

Right, I’ve wittered on about nothing for too long now, so I’m going to sign off.

Till next time!



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