As I reflect, I realize how pivotal these past few months have been.
I’ve now been in Japan for about two years. No doubt, I’ve learned a lot in that whole time. Too much to write a single post about. But if I go and break things down into shorter time periods, I can get a better and grasp of what things have happened.
Losing My Favorite Person
The past secretary at my elementary school. I mean, he didn’t die, but it’s unlikely that I’ll ever see him again. He was always very secretive. I was waiting for that day that he reveals his past, but it never came. Damn real-life plot development. Gotta work on your writing, God!
He was the one who got me into Final Fantasy Record Keeper and convinced me to play Yokai Watch (which I’m loving right now (seriously, it’s just plain fun)). He understood all my weird video game references. When I had to write articles for my town paper, he’d help correct them and generally encouraged me to write what I was writing (someone still helps me correct them now, but they’re more critical and tend to want less “difficult topics”). Because he was the secretary, he was also in the staff room most of the time, so there was always someone to talk to.
When he left, I lost the only person in my school that really plays video games. Well, only adult, in any case.
Dealing With New Teachers
But actually, with all the new teachers, there was a lot of…newness. I think it helped me get out of my funk of losing some good people.
In April 2014, most of the incoming teachers were from the recently closed elementary school, so I knew most of them. Just a big switcharoo, with only three new teachers. This year, however, had almost fifteen new teachers. That’s a lot of newness! Five times the newness!
It’s always nice when new people come, because then you become a knowledgeable 先輩. Though there is a lot of adapting to the new people, in general, they’re trying to adapt to you. After all, you’ve been there longer. Even if they’re physically older than you, you’re now weirdly kind of above them on the Japanese totem pole. Or whatever the Japanese totem pole equivalent is. Did the Ainu have totem poles?
Anywho, they’ve been great. Fun people. I’ve learned how to throw shot put from a new teacher, and how to draw faces better from another. One of the teachers can actually speak English, and we can sometimes have conversations about music entirely in English. Who knew any Japanese person had heard of The Libertines and Kasabian?
Not to mention, the new secretary is actually pretty great too, even if he can’t play video games. Turns out you don’t need to be able to play video games to be a fun person to hang around. Who knew?
Seeing the Effects of My Classes
Last school year (from April 2014 to April 2015) was the also first year that I was given complete control over elementary school English. During that time, not only did students get exposure to more interesting and useful English, they were also exposed to some of my stranger teaching methods. Like watching scenes from movies in English with Japanese subtitles and then just English.
In general, I think the techniques and lessons worked pretty well, although there are some improvements I’m in the process of making. Need more props.
My favorite moment was when the English teacher at the middle school mentioned that his new 7th graders were able to pick up English so easily. “They must be geniuses,” he said. “They’re way better than my class was last year.” He’s yet to realize why exactly they can acquire it with relative ease.
Hanging Out With Families
More than any time previously, I’ve gotten closer to some of the people in the town. Specifically this one family and their 7th grade son, whom I’ve had the pleasure of playing lots of video games with. Especially Splatoon. Not to mention watching some fun Japanese Let’s Plays.
It’s made Shichikashuku feel more like a home. That sense of acceptance. Topped with the joy of playing games with neighbors, a feeling I thought I lost in middle school.
The biggest battle is ahead. New ALTs are coming. Old ALTs are getting replaced. My world here is changing, and I’m yet to know whether or not it’s going to be a good change or a bad one. Is it Kefka that’s remaking the world? Or maybe [redacted spoilers from a book you probably haven’t read].
I’m excited, too. Because who knows.
But I’m scared, too. Because who knows.
In any case, summer is here. It’s hot as heck. I’m sweating daily and it’s hard to sleep without a fan pointed straight at my face.
At least some things never change.