Looking forward and catching up

This was the second day in a row that I had a teacher talk to me about my new workload at that one elementary school and wish me luck with it. Japanese junior high school teachers are wishing me luck with my workload…that’s kind of a cause for concern.

I actually have no idea when I’m supposed to start at that school, though. I’ve done zero planning because classes at my elementary schools won’t even start until next week (the only one I know about for sure is next Wednesday), and I’ve been enjoying the last of my relative downtime till the Big Crunch starts.

Today was pretty busy and tiring, but we spent the morning cleaning and preparing for the entrance ceremony for the new first-years (aww, my kids–a few of them were making eye contact and mouthing greetings at me when the teachers were being introduced, and it was so sweet), and I took a nap tonight, which was nice and really needed (and which is why I’m still awake now, unfortunately). I had some good conversations with a lot of teachers today, including the new Japanese teacher, and I got a shoulder massage from the groundskeeper lady, who had to lean on me to get up on the stand for the staff photo. The kocho also called me into his office suddenly and gave me a present–a copy of a Japanese-language book on education that he’d written, and he asked me to please use it as an aid to help with my Japanese studies.

Another high note of today was that I got to talk to my former boss, the one who I worked for during my first eight months here. She’s been out on maternity leave since January, and I haven’t seen her since December. Lindsay sent me a package from Togo with gifts to give to our friends and supervisors here, and she’d included some things for our former boss’s newborn daughter, so I sent those with my two gifts last night. She called me this evening to let me know she’d received them.

The problem, though, is that I use my cellphone as my alarm clock, and she happened to call during the five-minute snooze interval after my alarm started going off. I mistook the ringing of the incoming phone call as my alarm, so I reached over, pressed a random keypad button to turn the alarm off, and turned over to sleep for another five minutes, and then heard her voice saying, “Moshi-moshi? Moshi-moshi?” I kind of blurted something hasty and apologetic in sleep-dazed Japanese, wondering if I’d somehow managed to call her on accident, but then it hit me, as I finally woke up fully, that she was calling me. It was a bit awkward explaining that one off.

But in the end, it was really sweet–we talked for about ten minutes, and it was really nice to hear from her and have a conversation with her again. She’s quiet by nature, but she’s just a few years my senior, and I’m glad we could catch up. I didn’t really talk to her at length after the gappei and staff change last year, when she was moved to another position and my current boss came in. She’s been in to visit the BOE a few times, but I’ve never been in when she came in. I filled her in on my schedule change–I’ll only be at the BOE for about 3-4 hours a week now–so I hope she’s able to time another visit for that interval.

(I swear, the Korea update will come soon; I keep forgetting the notebook with the names of the sites and stuff at home. Tomorrow! Tomorrow!)

Beginning of the end

It’s the first day of the first term of the year, which is also the first day of my last term at this school. The school year and fiscal year start in April here, whereas the JET year starts in July/August (for many countries; some start in April, so there are some new ALTs coming in right now). We have a new principal and Japanese teacher–two teachers who’ve come in, as opposed to the four who’ve gone out, since we’re going from two first-year homerooms down to one this year. Both are very nice people–the principal, from one of Justin’s elementary schools, ushered me into his office and we chatted for a bit; he can speak basic English and was a really warm and friendly man. The Japanese teacher is from Jordan’s school and seemed really sweet when she introduced herself to me. It’s funny how we could gossip amongst ourselves and get the full scoop on our new teachers.

Today was the opening ceremony and the introduction of the two new teachers, and tomorrow afternoon is the nyuugakushiki, or the ceremony for the incoming first-years (nearly all my 6th-graders from my elementary schools last year). School’s out for the day, though we still have to be here, of course.

I was writing a letter to Lindsay at my desk and thinking about The End. At the ceremony today, I realized that it was one of my last start/end ceremonies, and after tomorrow’s, the next one will be the end-of-term one, which will be where I say my goodbyes to the school. I also was telling the new kocho that I’ll be gone this summer, which surprised him because it was so soon…and it is. It’s just four months away, and…it’s going to be tough.

For now, though, it’s lunchtime–I wrote (as in, with a pen in a notebook) a bullet-point synopsis of the last two weeks, so I’ll post that and I swear it’ll be short and manageable.

On my way home

I’m on the first leg of my long trip back to Tokushima–Nagasaki to Fukuoka/Hakata–and we’re passing the Shimabara Peninsula and Unzen. The weather’s beautiful and we have an amazing view of the entire volcano and the magnificent gradual slope its flanks make to the water below. I’m also listening to the lush and beautiful strings-only tracks “Passacaglia” and “The Shape Of Things To Come” from the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack, which fit the view perfectly. This is truly a sublime moment.