It’s so hard to believe that in a few short days, I’ll be heading back to America. I have gotten so unbelievably busy, to the point in which I didn’t even know if I would be able to write one last before I left, but I’m going to set aside the 30 things that aren’t completed and write one more post to mark the end my first real International Journey.
People always look at me strangely when I tell them that I didn’t or won’t visit any other Asian countries, even though it’s “like 45 minutes away!” I mean, like I have told other people before; Japan is my main focus of study. If I wanted to go to Korea, I will make the proper arrangements and get myself to Korea for a week or two and see how I like it. I just might.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks packing, preparing to say goodbye and getting gifts ready for the people who deserve them.
This past week, I’ve started giving the gifts out to the specific people that have contributed to the good times that Japan has given me. Not the assholes that just see me as someone who they can take their frustrations out on because they’re bitter about their lives. But people who decided to look past the foreign face and actually get to know who my boyfriend and I are. For that, we will forever be grateful. I am truly humbled by their selflessness.
I won’t give their names, pictures and the information of how they helped me, although there are some already on the blog. What they've done for me will forever stay imprinted in my heart and if I hear someone talking bad about Japan, I’ll….probably agree. Lol No, I’m totally kidding. But it depends on what they are complaining about. I can’t disagree and argue with someone’s EXPERIENCE because that’s what they know and it would be arrogant, myopic and ignorant of me to discount their experiences because I need Japan to stay a certain way for my benefit. Luckily I’m not like that, although I have had a couple of run-ins with people like that (Haters Abound, anyone? Haha!). However, mindless, stereotypical ranting will be stopped because all I have to do is remember the people that were kind to ME and I will politely share my own experiences.
Tomorrow I have to make my goodbye speech to the school that I have been at for two years. It’s been a mixture of good times and bad times, with the good times mainly coming from students and I’m going to be so happy to tell them that in my fairly positive speech. I say some honest things, and whether or not it does anything, I’ll feel better when I say them. I don’t point out specific teachers for the positives or negatives, since that isn’t appropriate. However, I will say what I need to say.
I know my students are going to make me cry -.-. I just know it. I have been able to hold it in during recent happenings of running into people and realizing that I really won’t be seeing them anymore. But I always leave them on a happy note. I don’t know if I can do that with the students because I really will miss them and their crazy antics.
I did my speech and some of the students came up to me crying and it’s like how am I supposed to not cry? -.- I have so many good memories with them and I’m happy that I got to know them. I’m forever grateful the program that brought me here to meet these students and the people around me. I can barely put it into words!
Later that night I had my going away dinner with teachers whom I wanted to come. It was so nice! I got a “Banzai!” rally cry thing lol. I never thought I would get one but I got one! What happens is everyone raises their arms and yells, “Banzai!” and the person that it’s for has to bow when everyone else raises their arms. You’re supposed to do three at a time so I had to bow three times in a row. I’m glad that I was able to speak with these teachers one by one and reminisce about the fun times that I had with them.
Now I have to do loads of preparation; I’m pretty much finished with packing because I know that if I don’t do it early then I’ll forget something, and you don’t want to forget anything before an international flight -.-. Everyone back home is waiting to see me and I can’t wait to see them. The speech and the dinner was a great ending to crazy rollercoaster ride of my adventures in Japan. I only have two days left during this post, so I’m going to do some last minute things for the person who comes after me. I’ll try to make her landing as smooth as I can.
I mean, what can I say about an experience that changed me a bit? I can safely say that because of the students and the GOOD people that I met, I had a very fulfilling experience that some people might not be as fortunate to have due to unforeseen circumstances. I can safely say that my boyfriend being here helped A WHOLE LOT lol. I had a close ear that can understand what I say because he’s experiencing it too.
Now that I am ending my blog, it’s time for me to go on to my next adventure, which is going back home and re-assimilating back into American culture and way of life. I’m just as excited to start that, as I was to come to Japan!
Soo….what’s next? “Roaming in Barcelona?” “Sleepless in London?” lol
Only time will tell! Thank you for reading! =)
Wandering in Miyazaki
A tale of a black girl teaching in Japan.
- ► 2009 (34)
Links of Sites that I Find Interesting
So this past Sunday I went to have fun with the PTA and some teachers. We went on a ship owned by the Miyazaki Marine School. I did fishing (caught like 7 little ones) for the first time, had lunch, then did some water recreational activities. The PTA, despite being very intimidating because they essentially control Japanese schools, were made up of nice people who were genuinely interested in me and where I come from. Some of them even taught me some more Miyazaki dialect and I think when I leave, I’m going to stick with it. Before I came here, I thought that would have been soooo cool if I could learn a Japanese dialect and use it to speak to people not from my area in Japan. Awesomeness! XD
So….I went on a banana boat. I really, really didn’t want to because I couldn’t swim. But, I was essentially forced to go on because of the pressure from 15 people pushing me towards the edge of the ship -.-. Like, wow….woopie….I’m being forced to go on a banana boat…how fun. Lol
Luckily since it was me, a German study abroad student and my supervisor on the banana boat, along with 3 men, they didn’t try to make us fall over. I only mention that since that was their main goal for all groups that go on it. I was on the hover…mini-boat…thingy that was dragging the banana boat along and I heard the two guys who took turns driving the thing trying to figure out the best way to make the banana boat tip over. I mean, if I could swim then I wouldn’t care, but I don’t know how, and I’ll definitely learn when I get back to the States since I’d like to be able to swim.
They only had a banana boat and a guy who goes around on a jet ski. The jet ski guy can only take one person per session so I had to wait a bit. Honestly, once I finished the banana boat I knew I was never going to go on it again, despite everyone trying to force me to do it. One even went so far as to say “….wow..even though you made all that effort to come Japan….” like trying to make me feel guilty lol. It didn’t affect me because I told him that banana boats and jet skis have NOTHING to do with Japan because I can do these things in any other country. I only did the banana boat because the study abroad student wanted me to so I was like “sssiighh…..fine.”
I just didn’t want to fall into the water because I can’t swim. I saw how fun the jet ski was so I decided I’d like to try it….I fell -.-. All I saw was the water coming at a rapid pace and I was in the water. It wasn’t that bad, but I was still freaking out lol. I just remembered what they told me to do and tilt myself backwards according to the life jacket I had on, and I was floating with no trouble. I was still freaking out though lol. I was more upset about how I couldn’t swim and if I could then I wouldn't have freaked out so hard. So, I get back on the ship, soaking wet and a little bummed out by the whole thing, when I get 15 people trying to force me to do the banana boat thing again. No.
In retrospect, I’m glad I did it for the study abroad student and even though I did have fun, I’m sure I could have had more if everyone wasn’t trying to force me to have fun.
After that, we’re all back in the lunchroom and that’s when I really get to know the PTA. I enjoyed answering all their questions because the questions consisted of things that I never heard anyone ask me before. One Japanese woman, who was born in Brazil and moved to Japan later, was talking all sorts of stuff about Japanese drinking culture to this older Japanese man. She said that unlike Japan, Americans don't drink to drunk everyday. I didn't want to start bashing Japan with a Japanese lady, in front of a Japanese man who, like most people, aren't ready to hear criticisms.
I just spoke about it from the American side and said that if someone does drink to get drunk everyday, then in our culture, that person has a problem and needs to get help. The guy, respectfully nods, actually thinks seriously and goes, "Wow....I drink everyday too..." I mean I didn't tell him that to make him change his behavior since it doesn't affect me, but I think the Japanese lady was kinda going overboard (har har - pun intended) with bashing Japan. Unlike Japanese teachers, he didn't even flip out and get all nationalistic. He just accepted it as a difference in culture. Despite his open-mindedness, he's just a parent of one of my students. The teachers here can learn a thing or two. Hopefully, before I go back, I can hang out with them again.
Last week was teacher switch day! The crazy time where all the teachers meet in the main office and Vice Principal receives a call from the Principal and the teacher that gets called is definitely getting switched. It feels different from last year. I feel more “in the know” so to speak as opposed to last year when everything was new. So, instead of being confused and wondering why all the teachers came to my office, I went to the library to chat with a few of the female teachers then we all walked together to my former office. I certainly don’t miss the room lol. I knew all the teachers that got called down. I was talking with one of the science teachers and he was explaining that most of the time, one or two teachers from every subject gets switched so one of my JTEs will definitely be transferred.
It wasn’t my supervisor who was switched; it was the other female JTE. Damnit. I was hoping it’d be the older male teacher but he knows he won’t be at risk for transfer for a while. Everyone wants to stay here because it’s close to the city so it’s one of the best places to be. Well, I mean, I’m leaving anyway but I’m glad that the next ALT will get my supervisor. She’s a bit flaky and wishy-washy, but she’s better than most. I wasn’t too upset about the 9 teachers being transferred because I barely spoke to them, but I certainly was shocked about the JTE. I wasn’t upset though because I KNOW she wants to leave because of the academic school JTE who is a bastard to her. She thinks that he has it out for her, but unfortunately I don’t think he cares about her enough to even THINK that much about it. They did have a couple of awkward moments where he yelled at her in the middle of the hallway during cleaning time so teachers and students were milling about. He got angry at her because she didn’t “properly thank him” for a favor she asked of him. I have to be honest: he MIGHT have a small point, but the guy is a bit of a prick lol. He’s asked me and other teachers for favors but he never thanked us, so he’s a hypocrite. That’s not all he is though.
What happened was her son suddenly got ill so she had to take a paid holiday on one Friday afternoon. She usually writes up weekend homework for the students and hands it out but this time she had to leave early because of her son. While they teach different students, all of their students are in the same class, just separate whenever the teachers have them, so she asked if he would be kind enough to print out the homework he has for his students and give them to her students as well. He said fine and he did it. On the following Monday, she was back in school and she was so busy because she had a full day of classes. Nevertheless, she hadn’t seen him for the whole day until he went to her during cleaning time and yelled at her. Wow. After that day she would avoid him whenever possible and tell me how much she hates him lol. My supervisor would act all high and mighty about it and how she thinks she’s being a petulant child and complaining about nothing….until they had their own argument. Her tune changed real quick lol.
In any case, after I found out she got switched I went to her room to chat with her. I asked her where she’s going and all that. She told me that she’s going to the commercial high school. I asked her if that’s good and she said it is because it’s still in Miyazaki City. Another thing she said was, “I CAN say goodbye to him.” Well, when thinking about it like that, it’s a great thing lol.
The other teachers were trying to figure out a movie to show the students because the semester is winding down. Last year they showed "You've Got Mail" -.-. Ugh. No. It isn't even socially or culturally relevant anymore lol. Not to mention they were knocked out in the first half hour. Awkward. They also suggested showing "Ice Age" or "Shrek." That would be fine, if this were middle school. So...I suggested "Drumline" lol. It's better than their ideas, damnit! It's a part of my culture and I think they would appreciate the "One band, one sound" ideology within the movie. So, I bought it at a giant book/game/DVD/music store here to make sure it has Japanese subtitles and gave it to my supervisor to watch over the weekend. If she likes it, she can vouch for it to other teachers and they'll be passive-aggressively convinced to show it in their classes too. I'm not sure if I'm expecting her to like it, but I can definitely say that I won't be surprised if she wouldn't want to show it. I know it's just "Drumline" and it's not even all that spectacular in the States, but it's a completely different culture, people and beliefs. Perhaps watching this might help destroy some stereotypes, but like I said, I won't be surprised if she wouldn't want the students challenging the same ideas that they were taught in high school about "foreign countries." So...standby and I'll tell you how it goes.