A random business trip

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Not having a computer at home is really cramping my style lol. Must… get… computer… soon. Hmm, i guess we all know what my first paycheck is going for… (that and a proper bicycle…!) Also, sorry about the crappy cell phone camera pics – i can`t upload my regular digicam pics to the internet cafe comp.
Just got back from what was described to me as a “business trip” but in reality was closer to “internment in a prison camp” (only with 100 screaming high school girls, which you don`t really find in a prison camp, unless you`re watching a movie on cinemax late at night…)
The official purpose of this `trip` was to get all the prefectural senior high school assistant language teachers (ready for the JET acronyms? SHS ALTs!) together to provide “real life instruction” (read: warm bodies that happen to speak english) for high school students who want to study english at the prefectural English Summer Seminar (ESS). This ESS happened to take place at the Noto Youth Center (NYC…?), which is a strictly regimented, barren stretch of gleaming prison complex stuck in the arse end of some forest somewhere near Hakui, which pretty much means nothing, since Hakui doesn`t even appear on some maps. (ok!! moaning is done!)
Actually, though we were thrown into this with absolutely no preparation (on the first day we flip open our instruction manuals to find that we`re supposed to lead “figure skating like dance choreography” and “implement dramatic plays using various preselected themes” etc.) it turned out to be a blast. I was amazed at the level of english and energy which the kids had – they spoke better english and were more genki than any japanese high school kids I have ever met. This was all the more amazing since I teach at the lowest level high school (me: “good morning Yoshinori!!” Yoshinori: *blank, panicked stare – starts crying*) and in fact, none of my students made it to the ESS (almost all the other ALTs had some students from their school participating).
The NYC was hot as all hell and even more humid. And turning on the air conditioner did little more than just make everything damp. I spent three entire days soaked in sweat, and this was made worse by having to do things like run around outside pretending I was scottish and throwing the caber to try and demonstrate world sports day or something. I calculated that I must have spent close to 2000 yen (20 bucks US) on drinks. This was made worse by the fact that there were no trash cans in the entire place. That`s right. None. Why? Blame the same perverse, military-inspired japanese sense of logic that dictated (DEMANDED!!!) that we fold our futons exactly in a certain way and point it exactly a certain way, with the number of folds, orientation and fold height PREDETERMINED FOR US…!!!! The same logic which required us to get up at 6:20 (god save me…) in the am to do morning exercise (the deceptively titled “fresh time”). Which dictated exactly when we eat, when we sleep, how we do everything.
Now of course, you get a bunch of young, bored-out-of-their-minds yanks, aussies, brits and kiwis together in the middle of the woods and what do you think will happen? A hint: we sure as hell are not going to go to bed at 9:13pm on the dot.
So every morning the teacher`s staff meeting turned into a game of “which ALT was running around naked in the parking lot balancing a beer bottle on his/her head at 3am in the morning?”. Ah, the joys of cheap liquor.
But all in all, it was a fantastic experience, though draining, physically and mentally. I am just getting too old to keep up with 100 screaming high school girls (they were all girls except for two poor, scared little boys, who fortunately were in my group. I tried to get them to come out of their shell (Mike: for the love of christ Yosei, they`re just girls…!! TALK TO THEM!!! Yosei: *blank, panicked stare – starts crying*) and while at the end they did a little bit, I have to admit to being puzzled by the incredible recitance (did i use that correctly?) on the part of japanese boys in general to talk to girls!? I wonder if maybe we were all that way when we were 16, or if it`s just a japanese phenomenon. At any rate, I tried to do my bit to encourage them to keep studying english, to impress upon them the fact that its crucial that japanese men be able to speak english as well, not just the women (even out the ratios, man!) but we`ll see how it goes.
There were a bunch of elementary school kids there at the same time (different program) but they were so incredibly energetic, happy and enthusiastic to talk to foreigners it was amazing!! They would run up to us and shake our hands and babble uncontrollably without prompting!! (and grab boobs without hesitance as well LOL!) But something must happen between that age and age 16, when even the most genki of high school english students are incredibly shy and reserved when it comes to dealing with foreigners. Huh. *muses thoughtfully*
I have many more pictures to put up as soon as I can find a computer to do it with – including ones of drunken debauchery, my friend who got bit by a poisonous 5 inch long millipede and had to go to the hospital…!! (my god john, you`ve been in the country 10 days and already you managed to end up in the hospital…!!?), millions of screaming genki kids and so forth.
But for now, just happy to be home. My apologies to everyone who e-mailed my phone over the past few days – there was absolutely no reception way out in arse-fudge japan, so i didn`t get them until now. I will try and respond ASAP!!
Now listening to: “Dragon Ash – Cowboy F!ck”
(DRAGON ASH IS COMING TO THE HOOD!!! Yeah!!! Guess who`s going!!!??)
6:28 am

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