Saturday, July 28, 2012

Videos of my Last Day

As promised in my last blog, here are the videos from my last day in Japan. 

2:03 - See if you can spot the student sleeping standing up
2:25 - Listen to my principal read the certificate in English
4:45 - Failed attempt to get the students to say something
4:54 - Start of my speech in Japanese

Compare the atmosphere of this speech to the one I made a few weeks earlier at the school festival where I first told most students that I was leaving:

Last Day of Work

There was a while when I thought my time in Japan would never end.  However, the day has come and past, and I am officially no longer a Sensei. On July 20th, I had my last day of work at my base school.  It started off as a fairly typical day where I somehow - again - managed to arrive to work just after the start of the staff meeting (ever since they changed the start of the meeting from 8:10 to 8:05 I've struggled to be on time - those five minutes made a huge difference...seriously!). However, arriving late wasn't all that great for me this time, because I was told that I would have to give a farewell speech to the staff in Japanese.  Although I've been giving farewell speeches for a while now, I used the speech I wrote for this school with most of the staff at my farewell party the week before and hadn't prepared a second one, and obviously I did not want to repeat the same speech again. Instead, I did a basic "thank you for everything" and "you were all so kind" sort of speech that probably was among the shortest goodbye speeches ever. 

Throughout the day, the scheduled was shorted by 5 minutes for each class to accommodate an assembly at the end of the day to say goodbye to me. Between teaching 2nd and 6th periods, I spent the rest of the time using the printer (last time for me to have access to it), finalizing my plans for Japan and after, practicing my student speech, and organizing the desk for the next ALT. 

 Look how clean it is! 

After 6th period, all the students assembled into the gym and stood for the approx. 15 minute ceremony where the principal spoke first about how great it's been to have me, and then I spoke for a few minutes about how great it's been to be here, and then a student spoke for a little bit to say how much they've learned from me.  I do believe that most of it is true...I'm only a little doubtful about the principal's words. I think we spoke four time in the past two years. Here are some pictures from the ceremony:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Did I Just Witness?

On the last day of the school festival, three of the 3rd year homeroom classes held their hour long "show" (for a lack of a better term).  These shows usually include some class dance where everyone does a choreographed dance to a song, plus something else such as skits, talent competitions, or short comedies. 

Let me describe one short comedy sketch that I witnessed, and feel free to let me know what would explain these actions.

Three baseball players were on stage in spandex - only spandex. One student had a large protrusion emphasized by the fact that he was wearing white spandex shorts while everyone else wore black. They did some sort of choreographed actions and shouting that involved a lot of pointing to their bulges (and each others', and at the crowd, and so on). This went on for a while to loud cheering. Then they called some name, and another baseball player came out from behind the curtains. The one player with the large protrusion said some things as he pulled out a  protective cup from his pants - held it to the sky as if in victory as he yelled, and then shoved it down the student's pants who had just appeared from behind the curtain.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let the Goodbyes Begin

There is certainly something to be said for having an official goodbye speech or party.  As I've prepared to go home, I've noticed that it makes a huge difference for how I feel when I leave a school for the last time if I'm able to feel as if I did a proper farewell. 

The first example is a school that I always loved going to, but where I had my last day in May before my family visited. I wasn't even thinking about leaving and no one else realized it was my last day so it was just another workday to me and everyone else.  For the students there, and for myself, I just kind of "disappeared" from their lives with no end, no last chance for a picture or to say goodbye.  It's a book with a cliffhanger and no sequel. 

The other example is at a smaller school near Kitami.  There are about 120 students, and I taught all of them almost every time I visited.  On this particular day, I visited each class, took a class photo, enjoyed one last game, said some goodbye speeches, and enjoyed the English Conversation class party they threw for me (1 student + all the English teachers = great fun).  I was asked to wait 30 minutes after school, and then I was presented with a wonderful homemade yearbook:

Every student is pictured in the yearbook, and everyone wrote wonderful little notes to me.  It's a full book of student photos, pictures of me teaching, and class photos.  Here's a few samples of the inside of the book: 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Look: Short 'n Curly Hair

I can't believe that it's been over a year since I had the chance to do a little hair modeling for World Love Hair Salon (as I wrote about in this past Post).  When I went in for a haircut a few months ago, and mentioned that I was going home for good this summer, the stylists thought it'd be a good idea to have one last photo shoot. 

Naturally, I have long, very straight hair.  Last year, Maico (the stylist) used my real hair.  Although she ended up winning - eventually curling my hair and getting volume for last year's shoot - she decided to go a different route this year: short and curly. 

She was aware that I did not want to cut my hair and get a perm, so the solution was to fit me for a wig.  This shoot was a first for several things: first wig, first time with short hair, first time with curly hair, first time with false eyelashes (just on the outside of the upper lids), and the first time with gold flakes on my ear. It took about 2.5 hours for preparation, and I discovered just how hard it is for me to sit still for so long!  And then the actual photo shoot took about thirty minutes on top of that. In all, not that long.  But the sitting still for so long, and wearing a tight wig, was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I'm willing to give a little more credit to professional models now. 

Without further ado, here's a few (pre-editing) photos: