30 August 2011

One month in

Posted by Roland under: JET .

The first month in Japan has passed. When I think about it, it’s an interesting mix between thinking where the hell the time has gone and also seeming like I’ve been in Japan a lot longer than just a month. Probably the biggest deal is that with the coming month is the beginning of school. While the students are starting their second term (the school year starts in April), I’ll be jumping in during the middle of their year as the brand new ALT. It almost feels like I’m interrupting the flow of things for everyone, but that’s just the way JET works.

I’ve been able to see some students at Ariake Middle since they’ve been coming to the school almost everyday during summer vacation for club activities. Since almost every student participates in some sort of club, that means every student is coming to school during their so called vacation. If anything, they don’t have any homework and get to go back home by noon, but they still have to wake up early and also deal with the ridiculous summer heat. My spoiled American self, I would try and spend the entire 3 months (they only get one!) inside the house and away from humidity. And no way would you see me anywhere near the school until I had to show up again.

Differences in school year aside, it did give me a chance to see the students. I haven’t really had a chance to interact with them directly since we’re not in the classroom and I haven’t had the “formal” introduction yet. But there have been some limited conversations and most students are friendly enough to shout an “ohayo gozaimasu” when I’m walking by. I’ll occasionally get a “hello” or “good morning” if the student is a bit adventurous. I’m hoping once school has “officially” started, I’ll be able to interact more with the students. If anything, they should have more downtime, as the mornings when I do see them now are occupied with club activities.

The “I’m finally here” mentality in early August has turned into excitement and nervousness for the upcoming school year. Part of it is wondering how I will actually do in the classroom. Another part of it is having to work across many schools, each of which with different student bodies and challenges. One thing I’m noticing a lot is that Amakusa is a sparsely populated location. Some of my classes can boast only around 5 students in it. The schools all make do somehow, but it’s an interesting challenge I didn’t foresee when I applied for the program. Then again, I’m sure rural Japan deals with that on a daily basis.

But I came to Japan to teach and so the teaching will begin. The welcoming speech is all ready and then self introduction lesson should be good to go. Now it’s just a matter of getting in the classroom and getting to work.

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