So begins year two

I had probably my strangest eikaiwa experience thus far today, not counting all my encounters with Sleeping Woman (who I haven’t seen since, come to think of it…). Only three students were in attendance in my intermediate class, and so I figured that we could just do free discussion instead of the organized activities I’d planned. Though I don’t remember what we started talking about, somehow the topic made it over to the atomic bombs and WWII (one of my students was a teenager when the bombs fell–he seems so much younger that I never, ever would’ve put him as being in his 70s), and went from there to the possibility of an atomic war and how it had the potential to wipe out 90% of the people on the planet (their figures, not mine–I can’t say I’ve researched it much), and general nuclear stuff such as radiation sickness and nuclear accidents…and then we ended up making a segue over to asteroids and meteors and how a meteor killed the dinosaurs.

We ended by one of the students asking what we would do if we only knew we had a month left to live…and I took that opportunity to totally evade the question (thinking about my mortality makes me really uncomfortable) and then try to end the class on a happy note, by saying that I try not to think about it, and instead, I try to think about the future I want to build for myself, about university and work and eventually starting a family, and focus on the good things.

In other news, I’ve met two of the new ALTs–Brian in Mino (who I e-mailed/chatted with a fair amount), and Ashley downstairs. They’re cool! I’ve only chatted just a little bit with Ashley, but Brian and his boss came by the BOE yesterday and we ended up chatting for about an hour. It felt exactly like how all my many dozens of online-to-offline meetups have felt over the years–and it should, because that’s exactly what it was! We three, Chalice, and Nate met up at Chonmage in Mikamo for dinner last night–Fumi, the really awesome English-speaking owner with dyed hair and fake lashes, was extremely accommodating about my vegetarianism and even went out of her way to make me something not on the menu. Brian and I are hanging out again tonight–it was going to be another regional meetup, but only the two of us are free. I hope I can get a chance to show Ashley around Ikeda, at least–hopefully this weekend (the sooner the better). Her supervisor’s been taking care of her since she arrived, though.

I also achieved a personal triumph these past couple of days: on Wednesday, my JTE faxed me a copy of one of the speeches for our speech contest next month and asked if I could translate it, and after several hours of translation both yesterday and today, I finished it. It took so long because my kanji is crap and I had to hit up my kanji dictionary (I’m so glad I brought that with me), and because the student used some colloquialisms and grammatical forms I wasn’t familiar with, so I had to consult my boss and other BOE staffers several times. (It also took so long because I sit in the hottest corner of our BOE, where the air conditioner doesn’t reach and right in front of a window where the sun comes streaming in, so I spaced out for long periods of time as I fought to kept myself awake.) It’s a very moving story, actually, about a truly inspirational person in this student’s life…but seeing as how all the ALTs in Tokushima are technically competing against each other, I don’t want to reveal my hand just yet. But it feels good to know I can, and could, actually do it.

For some reason everything feels almost renewed. I’m really getting resonances of how I felt last summer, and I’m a senpai, which is a new thing for me, and makes me view everything as if it were all new again, so I know what I need to advise people on and what they have questions about. The cicadas are also out, and chirping (or whatever you want to call it) like crazy–I didn’t realize how much like summer their “rheerheerheerheeeeeeee”ing makes it feel like. The heat’s up and the humidity’s down. We’re indeed in the heart of summer right now.

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