June Photo Challenge : 25

In order, today went from “this is boring/the worst” to “this is a lovely” then back to “this is the actual worst”.

Here’s what happened:

It was a test day at school, so the morning was fairly boring for me. The afternoon was regular classes, and I was scheduled to teach with one teacher who brings me to every class she possibly can. She has no discipline with the students, and her classes are insane. One boy today took of his pants and ran around the classroom hitting other students with his belt. The teacher did not acknowledge this. Another boy got up and sat on his friends lap. Another just kept screaming “SEX SEX SEX SEX”. Teacher just kept on teaching despite the lack of respect/attention the students had for her. Its really a strange experience to be in a class like that. And, get this: this class is split up, so she wasn’t even teaching the entire class. Half the class goes with another English teacher and the other half stays with her, so there were only about 14 students in the room. When she first started bringing me to this class, I essentially walked around keeping kids inline. But today, (oh I’m so close to the end of this job) I just couldn’t be assed and so I stood at the side of the room and stared at her as if to say “how are you letting this happen?” Its not my job in any remote way to discipline the kids, so I was really going beyond when I did before. Technically I am just the English assistant, there to help out with pronunciation, listening, reading, etc. But really this job is so much more.

After school I decided I needed a drink. I had to cycle to the bicycle repair shop where I had dropped off my bike yesterday to be fixed (I was using a loaner bike). I thought after that I would go buy some Disaronno at a special shop down by Katie’s house. Katie, conveniently, was on the exact same page as me, and we met at the store. We each bought snacks and some booze and headed down to the river to have a drink out of Hello Kitty plastic cups. We ended up talking for hours, as usual. And with that, here is today’s image.

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(and check out Katie’s image today here!)

Once the sun started to go down at around 730 we figured we’d better head home. Although, I had a nasty surprise waiting for me. A COCKROACH. ‘Tis the season. Deandra said that her Japanese teacher told her they come out during rainy season because the drains flood, so it’s common to find them in your house now. THEY ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST AND IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL AND THEY MAKE ME CRY. But I battled it out (and won) and he is now dead and in a garbage bag on the curb of the road. ICKY.

So that’s how my day went from bad to good to bad again. Nothing a little Disaronno and The Mindy Project won’t fix.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day!

– R

June Photo Challenge : 24

My view as I ate lunch with my fifth grade students at elementary school today. In front and out of focus are the trays of school lunch on the kids’ desks. The pink things are their thermoses filled with tea. The window shows us mountains, of course. In front of the window sit the rags which students use to clean the hallways. Students clean the schools here; there are no janitors. After lunch, every day, students spend 15 minutes cleaning the school.

Elementary school lunch Japan

June Photo Challenge : 12

As a teacher, much like as a student, I often find myself looking out the window, daydreaming. When I first came to Japan, I got so lost looking out the window. I couldn’t understand the teacher as she explained grammar in Japanese, and would wander to the back of the class and look out the window at the mountains. This is something I still do today. I finish my role in the class, and as the Japanese teacher of English moves in for her part I saunter to the back, look out the window and tune out… until I hear my name and a question and I snap back to reality and say, “Sorry.. what’s that now? Ah, yes in foreign-land we have 28 days in February too.”

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June Photo Challenge : 11

Today all the junior high schools had their sports competition. Each club competed to see who was the best in the city. Usually I go and watch, cycle off on my bicycle to where ever we have a game going on. Today, however, it was rainy so I decided to just stay at school and read. There were no students except for those returning from their game to tell us if they’d won or lost. In one of my wanders around the school (to stretch my legs and get out of the staffroom), I brought my camera and took this shot. This 2-2 sign you can see in the top left stands for 2nd grade (or about grade 8 at home) second class. There’s 4 classes in the second grade at this school, and each are numbered; 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4. Each has their own homeroom. Teachers come to the homeroom to teach, aside from the subjects like gym and music. Unlike at home, where teachers have their own classroom in which they spend most of their time, in Japan the staffroom is where teachers are found if they are not teaching. I posted a bit about the staffroom and school in my first year (and at a different school – although mostly they all run the same) here.

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June Photo Challenge : 3

Today’s image comes from one of my two elementary schools I frequent once a week. Tuesday’s school is huge. It has many different buildings that connect via outdoor pathways with roofs (the tin roofs you can see in the image below).  Since the weather never really drops below zero, having outdoor pathways connecting the buildings isn’t so much of a problem as it would be in Canada. Rainy season makes it a bit less fun though! This particular building is where the English room is located. The English room isn’t too interesting by itself (although that may be another image – I still have 27 days to go!) but I wanted to give you a bit of insight to where I work today. Plus, the sky was kind of cool! It never really started raining but it kept threatening to all day.

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To see this image (or any other) in it’s full size, please check out my flickr! Thanks for coming by! See you again tomorrow!

– R

Undokai

Before I get to sharing my vacation in the Philippines and making you all jealous, I will start by informing you I spent this past weekend “working”. It was undokaior Sports Day(/Festival/something like that), at my school.  It was a hot, dusty day and students competed with their block/group for the grand prize of pride and a trophy that they have to return. Relay races, folk dances, three-legged races, and more. I took a ton of photos but unfortunately cannot share my absolute favourites with you (I can’t share any photos where students faces are visible). These images are a close second, though, and I hope they give you an idea of undokai at my junior high!

[For more information about undokai, check out this article in The Japan Times! I also wrote about my first undokai back in Hojo here (somewhere in this long post – somewhere after the first three pictures – look for “So Sunday rolls around…”!)]

undokai japanStudents line up for ‘opening ceremony’

students running relay
Relay race, each group has their feet tied together

game at undokaiThis game is tricky, students race with that pole around a marker, then run back to their group, holding the pole low, students (in rows) jump over it, it goes over head, to the next group, who set out again to run around the marker and back.

jumping over pole undokaiJump!

red team sports festivalThe red team

kendoA student from kendo shows off their skills

ganbatte!The object of this game is simple: each team ties their ankles together, then races to cross the field. It’s harder than you’d think!

the endOwari. The end.