Sunday, August 31, 2008

Settling in

Things are good in Ichinohe! Tyler and I are pretty settled, I began teaching last week, and we've met lots of new friends.

The month of August was very slow in the office, but Tyler and I were very busy with traveling and trying to setup the living luxuries. We have our keitais (cell phones) but we haven't had any luck with getting the internet set up. The latest quote for us having internet in our home is the 3rd week in September. One of my fellow JET colleagues reminds me almost daily that I should have used the internet company he used, but it just wasn't an option for us after I applied to YahooBB. Ah well...

We traveled to Morioka on a quest to find a bike and do other random shopping. We also went to Hachinohe to continue looking for a bike but we had no luck. We went back to Morioka for a JET orientation. This time, I went with the ALTs (assistant language teachers) that live next to and met some of the other JETs and ALT's from other private companies that live in Iwate. We went to this really great Ramen place (that has a chain opening in Brooklyn soon) and we went to an activity center that had indoor soccer, batting cages, basketball and volleyball courts. It also had kareoke booths, a large arcade, rollerskating ring, and bowling alley. The place was awesome. Tyler met up with us the next day so that we could get our re-entry permits in case we want to travel outside of Japan. We also had some pretty good Italian food followed by Starbucks. We went to a karaoke booth after dinner. The next day Tyler and I did some more shopping. I was successful in finding a bicycle.

I began teaching last Tuesday (8/26) at Chokai Junior High. This school has close to 30 students. Chokai is a town that is West of Ichinohe and takes about 20 minutes on a bike (1-1/2 hrs to walk). Tyler came with me because the school had a welcoming ceremony for me/us. The ceremony was really impressive. It was a pretty formal ceremony with speeches (including my speech in Japanese and English) and a pep rally of sorts with shouting kids and Taiko drumming. It was quite flattering. After the ceremony, I accompanied the full-time English teacher to our classes and I gave my Keynote introduction presentation. I think that I will have a good time at this school. Wednesday (8/27) I started at Chokai Elementary school. This school had a similar welcoming ceremony. Most of my teachers here have a very basic level of English so sometimes it gets a bit quiet when there are only a few of us in the office. I gave my introduction presentation to each of my classes (only 5 classes) and met all of the students. There is a lot of free time between my classes, so I try to visit the students through out the day. I played dodge ball with the 4-6th graders, I ate lunch with the 4 and 5th graders, and I participated in the daily, school-wide run in the mornings. The kids in the elementary school are much more out-going than the junior high schoolers. A few times this weekend, students from elementary school came up to me and siad hello. It is really great that they will come up to me, but I wish that I could speak to them. Their English abilities are pretty poor and my Japanese ability is worse. I hope that this will be motivation for me to learn.

This past weekend was the weekend of the Ichinohe Matsuri (festival/carnival). There were a series of parades and events each day. Tyler, Alex, Claire, and I danced in the parades on Saturday with a group from our office. The parade also had 5 large floats that represented neighborhoods around Ichinohe. Each of the floats were handmade by the community and had room for children to play the taiko drums that were affixed to them. Flutists and dancers accompanied the floats along with community members pulling/pushing the floats. Some of our friends from the areas around Ichinohe came over to our house after the festivities and we had a BBQ. Sunday, one of my neighbors invited all of us Gaijin (foreigners) to help pull the float from our neighborhood. Tyler wanted to watch the parade and the others were busy, so I pulled the float with the rest of the community members. It was a really great experience that I am glad I participated in. I will post some pics and video when I can.

1 comment:

Stace-Ghost said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing time so far! Playing dodge ball with the kids? I wish I could do that kind of stuff with my students! Thanks for the update :)