So, I’ve decided to switch from a newsletter to a blog, and combine all my thoughts together in one place after all the effort I put in to make a mailing list of everyone’s emails…sorry about that! I thought that things would move a lot slower than they have, and so much is happening all the time that I feel like I’d be spamming people if I kept sending emails…once every three weeks is just not going to do it^^;
Today, I brought my laptop into the office hoping to work on my self-introduction PowerPoint, because the laptop I’ve been given to use in the office has all sorts of securities all over it so that I can’t check my Gmail or my UCI webmail account, and so that if I try to plug in my external hard drive to get pictures to add to my PowerPoint, the computer won’t even register that it’s plugged in. Haha, that’s some pretty serious security–I’ve never really even heard of that o.o But then, they probably have zero viruses too, so whatever.
The not-so-secret secret of the JET program is that you as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) don’t have a lot to do in the summer, since schools are on break. Students are still coming to school for club activities and whatnot, but JETs aren’t necessarily teaching during this time. You still need to come in from 8:30-4:30 or whatever the time happens to be (with a tasty order-in lunch break, mind you!^^ In my case, anyway. 今日はカツカレーでした～). But basically, there aren’t any official guidelines for what to be doing during that time, except to “prepare your self introductions” or “prepare games for your classes” or “familiarize yourself with the textbooks you’ll be using.” I managed to get my own copies of all the textbooks and everything, because my supervisor is super nice and got them for me as soon as I asked, and read through most of them. Guess what??!! The first textbook for junior high is TOTALLY focused on San Francisco!! Not LA, not New York, but SF!! Yesssssss. Hehehe. I was wondering if I’d have to talk about LA a lot without knowing much outside of like, Little Tokyo or Koreatown ><;
Yesterday, because of the no-official-duties summer thing, I started to really, really zone out toward the end of the day. I was trying to figure out what to do, and I prayed about it, and ended up bringing my laptop to the office. They said it was fine, and it wasn’t like my laptop was connected to the internet or anything like that so there was no setup necessary. (Yesterday, I noticed that all the teachers were looking at some sort of schedule on their computers at the beginning of the day, and I asked if I could see it. That led to the discovery that I couldn’t access it without an orange ethernet cord that everyone else had, and that I also needed an email account like everyone else’s. They called in the tech support guy, and he was pulling out desks and sitting on them and redirecting a cord through them until I had a cord that reached my laptop at my desk. I had no idea that I couldn’t have just logged in, but when I apologized to T-san (abbr.), who sits next to me, she said that it’s his job so it’s okay. LOL, but I got my first email to that new email address today, and I have the same setup as the rest of the employees there, so I am very happy! Even if I can’t read a lot of the information that that program contains^^;)
Anyway, when I took a break from that ppt, which was mainly pictures, K-sensei was walking around the office, and since I’d been trying to show them my house on Google maps the other day, this time I showed him my house and neighborhood and Joel playing basketball, as well as the food pictures I’d put together. Most of the other teachers/employees in the office (3-5 others) joined in, and we were just sitting around my laptop asking questions and sharing about California and the US and Japan, haha. (This is mainly in Japanese, btw. Everyone understands some English, but I just want to get to know people, so for now I’m not pushing it too much.)
The time passed really quickly today! I got a lot of pictures put into my ppts–one for my self-introduction, and one about food, which I figure I will need to talk about sooner or later. On previous days, I read JET books and pamphlets and highlighted teaching advice, read the Waki pamphlet in Japanese (slowly), and researched games that I could do in class.
Around 4:00, some of the junior high school students came by the office and asked to talk to me, so I came out. They were super nice, and I was really encouraged that they were so interested in America (I know it’s “the US,” but in Japanese it’s “Amerika,” so I’m just going to stick with that) and in learning English. The students are going to be doing a 2-week homestay program in Australia soon, and they had some really good questions! Like, “Are the food portions going to be a lot bigger than in Japan? How can we politely tell our host family that it’s too much food?” And, “How often do people wash their clothes? Japanese families wash their clothes every day–in America, is it like two or three times a week?” This question caught me off-guard, because I didn’t really want to tell them^^; One question they did NOT ask was, “Do you have a boyfriend?” It’s really surprised me that no one has asked me that directly yet, haha. The teachers at the preschool joked about it but nobody asked me directly, so I didn’t answer haha. Actually, tonight I was asked if I was single, but it was more in the course of conversation, and it was people I’ve already been getting to know, so it’s different. 面白いねー
After that, I went over to the trick art museum (probably more on this later) to deliver a small thank-you note to the lady who works there. After being here a couple days, I had Saturday off to do whatever I wanted, so I decided to go out in the middle of the day when it’s the absolute hottest and walk around and get to know the area. It was fun, and I got a lot of great pictures…! And I also got very lost. After wandering for what I think was like an hour and a half, I went into the only place that was open on Sat where I knew anyone, which was the trick art museum, and asked for help from the lady there. She was really nice and gave me directions, and asked me if I needed a ride, to which I said no and began walking back by myself. すると、she caught up to me in her car and said to get in because she’d drive me home, and I got in because I didn’t want to hold up traffic or cause a car accident, haha–and then she gave me a vitamin drink and dropped me off. So today I delivered a thank-you note, which she received but then gave me a bunch more stuff–more vitamin drinks and a kaki snack. I decided that you can never outgive a Japanese person–but that’s not going to stop me from unabashedly thanking people for stuff and giving gifts, hehehe.
If that wasn’t enough, tonight my coworkers held an official welcoming party for the new ALT, and we ended up talking about 方言 (local dialects) almost the entire time and it was really fun. I’m going to try and see if I can use it in the next couple of days, because we have a couple of JET meetings Thurs and Fri for Yamaguchi-ken. I cannot say enough good things about my coworkers and the other teachers here–it’s really been a lot of fun~~~~~
I think I seriously must’ve drunk an entire bottle of that tea^^; They kept refilling it and so I kept drinking it. I don’t know what kind of tea it was, but it was really good!^^