Monday, September 29, 2008

The Last Lecture / Passions in Life

I recently watched a video that was very inspiring. It’s about a professor from Carnegie Mellon named Randy Pausch who was diagnosed with cancer and was told he had 3-6 months to live. The video is about his “Last Lecture” or if you were to give one last lecture before you died what would it be? The video has a lot of good points in it and I highly recommend watching it. Here’s the link:

In addition to this lecture there are few other lectures by Randy Pausch that I highly recommend watching. If you’re interested I can send you links.

There were many points in the lecture I found highly interesting. The first being: “Brick walls are there to keep out those who don’t really want it.” (Whatever task, goal, ect. “it” may be) There are always going to be metaphorical brick walls or obstacles you must overcome. If you don’t persevere you want break through them and achieve your goals.

One of my life examples is I want to learn Japanese. But they use a writing system that uses over 2000 different characters. This to me a brick wall I need to overcome in order to learn Japanese.

To summarize some of the other key points in the lecture.. (I won’t do them full justice so if you want to read on make sure you watch the lecture!) I agree with all of his points and want to apply them in my life, if they don’t already apply.

• Never lose your child like wonder (It’s just too important)
• Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore in life? (You can’t change the cards your dealt, but you can control how you play the cards) Basically find fun in everything you do.
• Help Others

Something to add to this point is that I remember reading an article I forget where that was about a study. The study was done to see what gives more satisfaction, giving or receiving a gift. Surprisingly giving a gift generated significantly more satisfaction and happiness than receiving. I believe this is true with no only gift giving but in general in terms of helping someone.

• Focus on others not yourself
• Apologize if you screw up (This sounds obvious but sometimes we don’t do it, myself included)
• Show Gratitude
• Get a feedback loop and use it/apply it
• Don’t complain, work harder

The example he uses is Jackie Robinson where despite being hated by millions and even spit on, simply worked harder.

• Find the best in everyone no matter how long it takes. (This one I believe even though it can be a draining task)

• Luck is where preparation meets opportunity

• Lead your life the right way and karma will take care of itself, your dreams will come to you.

Something else that the video said is something I’ve know but highly advocate. You won’t ever find real happiness in money or material objects. The real reward you get is from the experience you obtain. The difference between money and time is that you can make always make money back, you can never get your time back.

The video also made me want to re-examine what some of my passions are in life. By understanding your own passions it can help you figure out what you should do with your life, and how to live it. I think that pursuing your passion is one of the better ways to find happiness in life. One thing to remember is that everyone has a different definition of happiness and that there is a vast range of what happiness can mean. Although this may be true I think that no matter what your definition may be, pursuing one’s passions will lead to happiness.

Here is the list of my passions that I came up with. I wasn’t able to finish the list but I came up with a couple big ones.

Experiencing and Learning –
The world is a huge place, there are tons of people in it and there is also a ton to experience. I have the opportunity, why not experience it. This is part of the reason why I am where I am today.
For some reason learning makes me feel good, there’s something rewarding knowing that I’m becoming a smarter and better person with everything I learn and experience.

Helping others –
I’m not entirely sure but I’d like to think I’ve done a lot to help others over my life. I want to continue to do so. The satisfaction that comes from it is very rewarding knowing that you’ve made someone else’s life better, even if its because of some small thing you’ve done for them. I think I’ve given lots of advice to friends throughout my life. I don’t know if they seek me in particular or what but I really enjoy giving them advice. I hope that whatever their situation is or was I helped them with it. I don’t know this may also be a reason why I am teacher now?

Relationships/Making new ones and maintaining existing ones –
One thing I’ve realized over my life is that someone may say “Oh man I love (insert city/area).” I think one thing they may not realize is that what they really love is the people in that area that they’ve met/befriended. In my opinion it’s the people, not the place that makes one’s life great. An example I have and can share is Tokyo. I love Tokyo because there’s tons to do, but if I were to go back today it simply wouldn’t be the same. Almost everyone I met while studying there is no longer there, so it simply won’t be as fun or great as it was then.

Sports – Staying active
I don’t know what it is, I don’t drink coffee, nor do I really drink soda -- I’m not exposed to much caffeine, but I almost always have tons of energy. I was never diagnosed with ADD or ADHD haha but sometimes I can’t sit still. I love sports because they keep me active and because I have a healthy competitive drive. It’s important to also realize the difference between a healthy and negative competitive drive. What I mean by this is the means you go to achieve your goal. An example of a negative competitive drive would be if you cheat in order to win, or lose sight of the most important aspect of the game itself, to have fun/enjoy yourself. I believe competition is important because it drives us to better ourselves, improve our skills, and generally promotes progress. I think one of the reasons I like video games so much is because of the competition in the game. I don’t really play any games here in Japan but recently I’ve only been interested in multiplayer games that involve teamwork to achieve a goal. This is very similar if not the same as my passion for sports.

I have more passions, but this is what I’ve come up with so far.

What’s your passion in life?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Fun Weekend

So from Wednesday to Friday I taught at Ueno, everyday went great. I get along with pretty much all of the teachers there really well. I wasn't able to show them my slide show but I talked with a few of the teachers a bit. The 2nd grade was great. I taught them for the first time, and now I think I've introduced myself to all the teachers/students finally. So no more introductions anymore! Which is good and bad because now eveyone knows me, but I like the self introductions, they're fun!

Friday night we all went out to Tanuma and tried to go to a french food place in a hotel, but it turned out it was closed. So we started walking around to find a new place, at first we wanted to get Pizza but we changed our minds, after that we met with Robb. He recommended a place close by so we headed there. We had a few beers and got some food. Here's my meal after I already ate some hah:

Good stuff. Matt was telling me a story of how he has this Autistic teacher at his school that say HEY MATT! Then just stands there. Or like says very obvious stuff like you have class today. He's like yep, then they both stand there for 10 minutes until the teacher walks away haha. So funny. Here's a video of it:

Anyways after that everyone wanted to go out to an Izakaya (Kind of like bar/food place) but I decided to call it a night because I was going to wake up early to go play Ultimate Frisbee in Utsunomiya. I had to get up at about 8:00am because it takes an hour to get there and I was supposed to meet someone at 10:00.

Saturday morning I woke up at about 7:30 automatically before my alarm hah because I'm in a rythm or something.. Anyways got all ready and headed to the station and barely made the train I needed to catch at 8:50. Finally arrived in Utsunomiya around 8:50 where I met Atsuhiro. I've emailed him alot but this was the first time we met. He thought I was going to be big and tall because I was American ahha, nope, he was taller than me. I told him I'm Japanese size and he laughed. Anyways he's a really nice guy because he picked me up and drove me to the fields even though he never met me.

We ran drills and played Ultimate all day, and it was so fun because it has been so long since I've played Ultimate Frisbee. Everyone on the team is really nice and apparently two of the girls on the girls team played in the world finals, which is amazing. One of them had most points scored at like 50 something, which is alot... They all did their best to talk to me in English, and I did my best to speak in Japanese, they said for only studying for 4 months I'm really good. Atsuhiro helped with translations from time to time, I also brought my Dictionary ha.

I asked for a group picture and they said why!? I was like what? Then they told me Why = Y and Y = Yatta which means YAY! So after that lesson in Japanese I took the pictures haha. Here's the teams, The boys team name is Hot Scream and the girls is Chaoz. They told me Hot Scream doesn't make sense in English and agreed, but said it was cool team name. Also Chaoz means gyoza apparently (I think? I don't really know.) I told them in English it looked like Chaos which meant crazy and they all laughed about it and were excited.

After playing ultimate with them all day they wanted me to come with them to go drinking. I had to decline because Atsuhiro had to go, and he was my ride so I don't think I'd be able to make it back to Sano if I stayed with them. Plus Atsuhiro was the only one who spoke enough English to really understand me and he was leaving hah. Anyways, next time I'll hang out/go drinking with them if they throw out the invite because that'd be alot of fun.

Atsuhiro drove me back to the station and I took the train to Oyama, where I waited around a bit then met up with everyone from Sano. After that we went to Adrian's place and had a little house party. I didn't drink but it was alot of fun. Just hanging out talking enjoying our convenience store food haha. I got potato salad, gyoza (which is like dumplings) and Peach Water haha. While at this convenience store this cat wouldn't leave me alone so I took a picture with it, because you know I like taking pictures with everyone.
Hahah... I think the flash made it angry. After that we headed back and just talked and enjoyed our time at Adrian's Place. He has a really nice place and its huge, but he pays alot for it apparently. I enjoyed the whole day really. Afterwards Yukari drove back home to Sano and I found out I couldn't get my bike because the parking thing I parked at closed. Anyways I asked Yukari if she'd drive me home because she lives close to me and she said it'd be ok. I was super greatful, we talked a bit on the ride back, all in Japanese. I was proud of myself haha! Turns out shes the same age and she just graduated. She was an English major but I don't think she spoke much English that night, but I think she understands more than can speak like me and Japanese.

She dropped me off then I went to bed. Woke up today and walked to the station for the first time, it takes me 40 mins to walk and like 15-20 to bike there, therefore I love my bike. On the way back I accidentally scared some little girl. I was passing a field and there were some crows in it, I made some crazy noises to scare them away but they didn't move. There was a girl walking up ahead of me, and heard me. I think she thought I was some crazy foreigner so she started running away from me haha. I felt awful but it was hilarious. I wanted to go apologize but I knew it'd just scare her more so I biked a different way home so I didn't scare her anymore lol.

Tonight we're supposed to go to a Mexican food place. I'M EXCITED because it has been a while since I've had mexican. I'll bring my camera I suppose.. BLOG ABOUT IT!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumnal Equinox Day

Tuesday was a national holiday and there was no school. One great thing about Japanese Schools is that there are holidays like Autumnal Equinox Day. National holidays -- for things alot of the time I've never heard of.

Monday night a couple of us decided to get together and went to Shidax Karaoke. After school I got ready and headed out. Karaoke was actually alot of fun because there wasn't that many of us (only 7 of us) which makes it alot more enjoyable. Another good thing was that because it was a weeknight and because we didn't get nomihodai it wasn't ridiculously expensive.
After Karaoke finished up alot of people went home, but Becky, Oliver, and I weren't ready for that so we headed back to Becky's for some drinks. We talked for a couple hours and shared some Sake. After talking about pizza for a while we all got the munchies so we took our bikes to 7-11 and bought alot of snacks. It was a fun time and Oliver is hilarious. We discussed possibly taking a trip to Russia. At about 2:30 or so we decided to call it a night.

For Monday I sent an email out seeing what everyone was doing. I planned on possibly going to Ashikaga again except this time by train ahha. I wanted to explore a bit and maybe go to the museum there. Anyways that changed when I got an email from Kristine about playing tennis. After that I headed to a store called "House-Off" which is a 2nd hand store (used goods). I met Becky there and we both bought tennis rackets haha. Mine was only $10.00, can't beat that price. Afterwards we decided to get pizza at Salzeria (since we talked about it the night before haha). We met Carrie there and actually saw the head of all ALTs Noshiro Sensei and his family.
Good food good times. After we headed for Sano station to go to Tanuma to play tennis. Carrie went home since she wasn't feeling too well. When we parked our bikes we talked a little bit to the guys who run the bike parking place. They told us we're in the newspaper. All the ALTs were apparently printed in the local newspaper which is pretty cool, I kind of want to get a copy.

Once we finally got to Tanuma we met up with Kristine and Graham. They told us about their Mountain adventure and how they had leeches on they. SICK. Anyways Graham had to take care of business so he went home so it was just Becky, Kristine and I, we played for maybe two hours. It was alot of fun and I was happy to play sports because its been so long since I have.

After sweating it up at tennis Kristine invited us for some Shabu Shabu. We gladly accepted because we wanted a big meal after playing tennis. Once we got to the restaurant we decided to go with Sukiyaki instead of Shabu Shabu. Sukiyaki -- It consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef), or a vegetarian version made only with firm tofu, slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside vegetables and other ingredients, in a shallow iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs. (But I didn't do that haha)

Anyways at the table I was trying to tell them my idea of a restaurant that after you eat a big meal you can sleep there. A restaurant that offers food and a nap basically. But when I explained it I was full and tired so I said... "so I wish there was a restuarant where you could stuff your ass." I was going to continue to explain but they busted out laughing so I just left it at that ahah.

Today (Wednesday) I taught at Ueno and taught the kids about color. I taught 3 first grade classes. They all went nuts over the game we played. Each class/teacher handles everything slightly differently so you have to be quick on your toes. Even though theres that ambiguity I still enjoy the job it keeps it interesting haha. I'm learning new Japanese vocabulary everyday and writing it on the back of my lesson plans, then when I get home I usually put it into my online flashcard deck. So eventually when I take lessons and learn more grammar I can put the vocab to use.

Last night I talked to a guy online who is a Japanese translator but from Japanese to Korean. He's really into American football and his favorite teams are the Bears and Giants haha. I told him I liked the Broncos and he showed me some videos of Japanese people playing football here. I didn't know it existed here but they actually play it. He wants to go with me to Tokyo sometime and watch some football. Maybe I'll meet him or go with him to watch the playoffs or the superbowl. On a side note I really want to get an electronic dictionary because its so much faster haha.

Tomorrow I might bring my laptop to school for the first time. I want to show the staff some of my slideshows and maybe videos haha. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Earthquake and Being Screwed By A Japanese Person for the First Time

My weekend was fun, and pretty eventful. Alot of hanging out with friends, went to Ken's bar (I teach the owners son) and a nice authentic Indian restaurant (all you can eat buffet .. really good). You can see the pictures of Ken's Bar HERE there's also a video on facebook of Matt and Adrian dancing. While at Ken's bar I decided to get in a picture with everyone in the bar. Oliver wanted to join me, so between us we got a picture with EVERYONE in the bar. People back home know how I like to get into pictures with random people so this is a normal thing for me and them. Haha.

So today (Sunday) was pretty adventurous I must say. I woke up at about 7 automatically like normally. Except today, after I woke up, I was laying in my bed and there was an earthquake. It started with a slow low rumbled and worked its way up to medium rumble. I was like.. should I go outside? What do I do.. didn't really know so I just sat there haha. Nothing broke or anything but it was kinda weird because it was a long earthquake. I think that was probably the 4th I've felt since I've been here.

After getting up and stuff I decided to go to Utsunomiya today and meet Shea. So after doing the usual morning routine I headed to the station. After getting there I locked my bike where I normally do behind the vending machines. I just missed the train by 3 minutes. So I had to sit and wait for an hour for the next train to come, it sucked.

After finally getting to Utsunomiya I met up with Shea and we went and bought a 2nd controller for his PS3. Then we headed for his place and got some Gyoza on the way. After getting there Shea played some games then he wanted to go grocery shopping. I offered him all my help because he doesn't really know any Japanese, so I found the stuff he'd like in the grocery store and helped him translate stuff.

After that we headed back (it was raining so it sucked) he played the demo of Star Wars the Force Unleashed. Kind of cool game.

Anyways it was getting late so I decided to head back, and it takes about an hour to get back to Sano from Utsunomiya. Once I got back I went to where my bike was. I unlocked the normal lock that I use and then started to go... then I realized my bike wasn't moving. My bike came with a built in lock on the back tire that you just turn the key and take it out and it locks (preventing the back tire from moving). I never used this lock and just left the key in the lock. So apparently some Japanese person thought it would be funny to steal my lock out of my bike tire and strand me at the station.

After being a bit pissed for a while I carried my bike to a 7-11. I called Becky and Graham and asked for their help. I figured maybe since Becky has the same bike the lock would be the same/similar. I called Graham (since he has a car) and asked for him to help me bring my bike back to my house since I couldn't ride it home. After calling for help I bought a screwdiver set and started to break apart the lock. After taking it apart as much as I could with the screwdriver Becky showed up. She took the screwdriver and jammed the lock apart slightly at the weakest part of thin aluminum. After getting this foothold Graham busted out some pliers he had. We used our hands and the pliers to bend it as much as possible. After Graham and I tried to bend it for about minutes I finally decided I was going to do it. I went super saiyan and used all my strength and bent it enough to get it off.

If it wasn't for Becky's idea to rip it at the aluminum part and for Graham's pliers and man strength, I probably would have still been pissed and walking home.

Now I've decided to keep the lock as a trophy and reminder to A. Not leave the key in the lock. B. Not trust all Japanese People. C. Don't be a fool.

So I owe Becky/Graham alot of thanks. They're pros for coming out to help me in my time of need. I'll have to buy them a dinner/beer soon. If you're reading THANKS GUYS!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Short Week and Azuma Elementary 吾妻小学校

This week was really short. I had Monday off because it was a national holiday and I had Tuesday off as a compensatory day off for working on Saturday.

On Wednesday and Thursday I taught at Tenmyo. They were both good days, and it was also where I got my first "gift". I mentioned this in an earlier post but basically it was an awesome drawing of DBZ and Naruto characters. In return I gave the student a copy of one of my drawings.

Today I taught at Azuma Elementary for the first time. My introduction went really well. And in the Staff introduction they actually cut me off because they thought I was done before my speech was over. The students really liked me alot.

This is new: In fact the entire 2nd grade wanted my signature. It was weird, I guess because they liked my drawings so much... the ENTIRE class came to me after class was over and said SIGN PLEASE! They wanted my signature in English and Japanese hahaha. I played soccer with them at recess and threw the frisbee a little bit.

In my introduction I mention that I like to make short films. Mostly stuff when I'm goofing off or small videos I edit together. They thought I was a director or something. Also they were all really surprised that I worked on Die Hard 4 too. I told I didn't get my name in the credits though haha.

This week has been pretty fun and pretty easy. It seems I'm having no real problems at all. I would like to have an enkai (welcome dinner) from one of the schools but I don't know if I am. I also want to hang out with more teachers but it's really difficult with their limited English and my limited Japanese, I guess that's more motivation for me to study. Apparently I'm very skilled in Japanese according to them, which may be true for only studying for 4 months, but its worthless if I can't hold a nice conversation with them!

This weekend we're supposed to get hit by a typhoon. I wonder how much it will rain?
I hope it holds up a little but I want to go out this tonight and later this weekend. I'm going to try to go to Utsunomiya and practice with the Frisbee team at the University, but it might get canceled. I'll have to wait and see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Weekend /Day off/ Tenmyo Wednesday

So my weekend was pretty fun. Alot of funny stories/good times. Today I have a complimentary day off due to me participating at the Undokai (Sports Day). I'm going to use the day by biking around town, I might even try to bike up into the mountains or west to Ashikaga. I'm going to buy map before I start my adventure. I'll take videos and maybe put something together when I get home tonight.
Here's Pictures of my bike ride to Ashikaga. I think I biked over 30km yesterday. My butt is sore from the seat haha.

Here's a video I complied of my day.

Here's some of my fav pics of the day.

Today I taught at Tenmyo and I got my first gift! Check it out. It's a drawing of DragonballZ guys. It's pretty amazing to have been done by a 5th grader. I gave him a picture of Sasuke in return!


Also I haven't taught in Azuma Elementary school yet but some of the students from there saw me today at the grocery store. They actually recognized me from Sports Day and came up to me and said hello. Then their Mom was like That's the Hayai sensei (Fast teacher)! I just thought it was funny that I'm now known as the hayai sensei there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Azuma ES/JHS Sports Day 運動会 (Undokai)

Today was the 運動会 Undokai (Sports Festival) for both Azuma ES and JHS. It was a day long event starting at about 8:20am and ending at about 4:00pm. It was alot of fun to watch the kids compete in tons of crazy events. The schools were divided into a red team and white team. The goal was to earn more points for your team by winning events.

I got to participate in two events. I was part of this relay event where the goal was to kick this big exercise ball in a figure 8 around cones. Everyone on my team (teachers and staff) was over 40 years old haha. I was also part of the final event, a huge relay. There was 5 teams total which consisted of 4 student teams and the one I was on (all teachers). The school thought I was super fast because I told them I was in track back in High School. Before the event started I asked if it was ok if I ran fast. They said it was fine haha. So when I got the baton for the relay we were in 4th place, after I handed it off we were in 1st hahaha. I didn't feel bad running full speed because the majority of the teachers are older so I was making up for it haha. The kids were all surprised at my speed and did their best to say I was fast in English. Our team came in 2nd place overall which is pretty good, as I'd feel bad if we came in 1st.

I'm currently in the process of editing a huge video together of the day. I hope I can upload it, It might have to be two installments.

*Edit* Here's a video compilation that I edited together of the day. ENJOY!

Also I've uploaded some photos: Facebook Photos CHECK EM OUT!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Azuma Junior High School 吾妻中学校

Today I taught my first day at a Junior High School. It was alot of fun, a bit different from teaching at Elementary School, but fun none the less. So since Azuma is the smallest Junior High in Sano I taught the entire school (grades 7,8,9) (or they call it years 1 2 3). I believe the whole school only has something like 60-70 students.

First I had the welcome ceremony speech. It went really well. I'm actually on the schools website now check it out.

The thing below my pictures (in the link) is my introduction. I ended it by saying LET'S STUDY ENGLISH in Japanese! I typed it in English and Japanese and for some reason everyone was shocked that I knew how to type in Japanese. Everyone complimented me on my Japanese but in reality I'm no good! After my intro I taught 1st year students (7th grade). Each year had one thing the majority of them liked, it was kind of interesting.

I also made it onto the principals daily newspaper.

I made sure to be extra goofy. (That's my specialty) It helps the kids want to participate and when you make them laugh they have more fun learning than just being dry and boring.

So first year students are all really into tennis and net sports. I taught them how to do self introductions. Basically: "Hello. My name is ___. Please call me ____. I like ___." and a free sentence to say whatever they want. It was great one kid, his name is Heihachi Mishima (which is a character from tekken) and he said but please call me Jack Bauer (from 24). I just started cracking up. Then for his free sentence he said I am not good at English. That was the highlight of that class haha. I also taught them some grammar, something like "How many ____ do you see?"

Second year students are really into Tekken. I challenged them to a game and said let's play sometime. We all talked about what characters we liked. I wonder if I can beat them, or maybe they'll just straight up destroy me. I need to go to my local arcade and practice haha! Either way I HOPE THEY BRING IT!
I also had lunch with this class. The girls that sat near me kept asking me tons of questions. Eventually they kept giggling and I was like nani? (what)? Then I overheard them asking - Do you have a girlfriend? I just told them it was a secret haha. So everytime they asked (which was alot) I would just say it's a secret then they would giggle. Kind of entertaining.

Third year students are really into anime and specifically Naruto, and Prince of Tennis, as well as another one I forgot the name of. I told them I'd make copies of my drawings and give them out sometime. For their self introducions alot of them said "I was very happy to hear you like Naruto too!"

On Saturday I have to go to Azuma's Sports Day. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do but I guess I'll find out. I volunteered to participate in the 4x100M relay race. I told them I was on track in high school and they think I'm super fast. I told them I'm probably slow now. It should be alot of fun, I wonder what other events they'll let me participate in. FUN STUFF!

I almost forgot today was 9/11 until I saw the news here. They showed ground zero where they are constructing the freedom tower (basically where my aunt works). I hope that anyone who lost someone on that day has found peace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today will be a short post because not to much happened today. At Ueno, we had a fire drill. The kids all went outside in their "indoor shoes" oh no! Hah. I basically watched them all evacuate. They run there, in America we're all told walk calming to the closest exit ect. The kids here run hahah.

I only taught two classes today because of the fire drill and because the school is preparing for sports day. At recess we played dodgeball and I climbed some metal poles and climbed the monkey bars really fast. The kids wanted to race so I did it haha.

Tomorrow I teach my first day at Junior High School! Oh boy! I made another speech for them if they want me to speak in front of everyone. I'm prepared, except I haven't got a lesson plan from them really so I have no idea what I'm teaching. I hear at JHS you just repeat what the teacher says so it seems pretty easy. We'll see what happens...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ueno ES 植野小学校

Today I returned to teach at Ueno. I taught all 6th grade classes today which is a little weird because in the US 6th grade is part of middle school. I taught "What are you doing?" Then "What is he/she doing?" After getting the phrases down we played a gesture game and the kids had a blast. We broke them into teams and they got really competitive. Of the four classes I taught, two stood out because they were alot more fun. In those classes the kids were more into it, and seemed to be more interested in what I was teaching and me haha. The kids favorite new phrase is "Sasuke Please" (They all want a picture of the character I drew). I'm going to have to make copies and hand them out as prizes.

Afterwards I watched the kids set up/practice for their "Sports Day", which I think is coming up this weekend. Sports day here is weird.. its not sports its like a combination of weird activities. They stretch and do like cheerleading poses (where they hoist each other up). Its really ceremonial and no real sports go on from what I saw today.

For lunch we had some fish.. Ehhhh! I gave mine away. Also our rice has seafood all in it, I ate as much as I could.. haha. Also the miso soup had some fishiness in it, I drank as much as I could haha. So basically I came home hungry and ate a big dinner.

Monday, September 08, 2008

First Weekend and Tenmyo Monday

So this weekend was for the most part uneventful. All of the ALTs in Sano/Ashikaga were required to get a physical on Saturday, so no one really did anything on Friday night. We could of tried to get together but its just impossible to coordinate these things when no one has cell phones. So Friday night nothing happened which I was actually ok with because even though I didn't go out it's always good to save the money.

Anyways, come Saturday morning I woke up at about 9:00. I needed to be ready to get picked up by 9:30. I didn't get picked up until about 10:15ish for the physical. After rounding everyone up (getting everyone in cars) we headed to the clinic. Once we got there we all took our turns doing everything they wanted. First we had to pee in a cup, then get our blood pressure, measure weight, height, then we got quick chest x-ray. I had to chug some water so I could actually pee because after my morning pee it usually takes a while for me to go again (to much information I know). Turns out my x-ray revealed I have some gas, because I chugged the water but other than that nothing to interesting to report. According to the nurse my pee was perfect (which I guess means its fine?). I got my weight and height in CM and KGS and I don't even remember what they were so I guess I'll figure it out later hah.

Next we all decided to eat together so we headed to the outlet mall. Once we got there we decided to eat at Denny's. Which is nothing really like Denny's in America. I much prefer American Denny's but it was fine. It's a bit over priced in Japan, but then again everything is. I got a small corn beef hash sandwich for about 6 dollars. After we ate we walked around the outlet mall and saw everything we can't afford. Then we broke the group up and went different a couple ways.

After the mall Graham and I decided to go on a quest for Ocarinas. Graham was a music major and hasn't played anything since we got here so he was going into withdrawl. I looked online and found out that the town right next to us was known for making ocarinas (an instrument I first learned about in a video game). Becky tagged along but didn't end up sticking with us she jumped in another group of friends car and explored with them. After getting to the first music shop Graham jammed out on the bass. It was basically just guitars and basses at the first place. We asked if they had any ocarinas they said no, but they suggested this place called "Harmony Brothers" which was about a 10 minute drive away.

Graham and I hopped in the car and tried our best to make it to this place with the directions we got. They gave us a mini map that they drew with kanji that wasn't legible. They also tried to give us verbal instructions and Graham pretended he knew what they were saying, we both only got bits and pieces of it but put our heads together and eventually made it to "Harmony Brothers" or in Japanese Ha-moe-ni Bu-ra-za-s.

Once we got there we found out its a piano store, but it also sold ocarinas. We asked about the ocarinas and they sold plastic ones for like $10 and clay ones for about 50-70 dollars. The clay ones looked awesome, but Graham and I decided to go with the plastic ones at least to learn on (Plus we're poor). Anyways before we bought them Graham wanted to play some piano. So he then jammed out on piano and played what turned out to be the same song they used for the Halo 3 commercials. Chopin Prelude # 15 also known as Raindrop? Anyways its a really cool song. The woman that worked there kept saying how great it was to hear Graham play. I enjoyed it too. Even though I've never took lessons, I've always been really interested in learning how to play the piano. I think once I get some more money I'll consider taking some lessons.
After that Graham found out he can come back and play but it costs like 10 dollars an hour to play there, still good to know a place he can go and play. Graham went with the clear/silverish ocarina. I choose the orange one because it looked like a carrot. Check it out-

After that he dropped me off. Saturday night there was a couple people who wanted to throw down in Ashikaga, but I didn't really want to go alone from Sano and I choose to just stay in. I drew a couple more pictures of Naruto characters and I'll start giving them as prizes to the students since I'm drawing so much. Sunday I just biked around and explored then came back and hung out since it started raining. So all in all an uneventful weekend, but I'm ok with that. I made some good dinners though this weekend. Delicious:
This weekend I also taught myself how to play Shougi. To put it as basically as I can its the Japanese version of chess. It's a bit more complicated because you can do "drop" moves which make the game much different. I played four games online and lost all of them. It's a fun game though, if I find one I'll buy a shougi board and play with friends. Here's a look at the game board and intial set up:

Today I taught at Tenmyo for the 2nd time. I taught the 2nd and 5th grade. The 5th worked on Phonics and the 2nd on colors. For colors I had colored pieces of construction paper and I'd hold it up and say the color. Then I got the idea to compare it to what the kids were wearing. So for example I would say PINK! Then I would run over to a kid that's wearing pnk and point to it. The kids enjoyed it so before I even said the next color they were looking for someone who was wearing it. At lunch today was NATTO DAY! I avoided it like the plague, luckily they didn't make me eat it. For those who don't know natto is fermented soybeans and its sick. Alot of foreigners dislike it.

I also had some more self introductions and the kids enjoyed it. I got a couply funny questions today too haha. Someone asked me if I had a favorite ride and if I liked the marry-go-rounds. Someone also asked me what's my favorite memory? That's a bit broad isn't it haha? Someone also finally pointed out that my grandfather looks like Santa Clause. I told them he was, but they didn't believe me hahah.

The teacher there gave me a good idea, make copies of my drawings that way I don't have to give away the originals. Since I see so many kids in just 1 week I figured this idea would be good. Kids would get jealous if I only gave it to certain people so its more fair that way. Here's what I've done so far. I like how Sasuke Shikamaru and Jiriya came out but not the rest.

Tomorrow I'm back at Ueno. Should be FUN. On a side note I looked through my comp and noticed my old "Homework" folder. I'm so glad I'll never have to do homework again in my life. I hated homework.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tenmyo Elementary School 天明小学校

Today I taught at Tenmyo Elementary School. I had 4 classes, two first grade classes and two sixth grade classes. The two first grade classes were both really cute. Again the same reactions to all my self introduction props. AWESOME! SUGOI! KAWAII! JYOZU! Hah introductions are fun.

Todays topics were greetings and "What are you doing". I taught the first graders all about greetings. Hello, good morning, good afternoon ect. They enjoyed when I exaggerated things again. For "See you" I put a peace sign up, so they all copied me and did it too it was cute. For goodnight I pretended to sleep and then when they said goodnight I pretended that it woke me up.

After class there was two little girls (1st graders) that kept following me around hahah, in the small break between 2nd and 3rd period I went outside with them and played jump rope with them hahah. Then we played a game of tag - always fun.

After that I taught another first grade class (same stuff). Then I had lunch with some 4th graders. They asked me all about NY and what kind of olympics events I liked. There was a couple questions I couldn't answer because they asked things in Japanese I haven't learned yet. They asked if I was skilled in Dodgeball, I told them I played alot as a kid. So when recess came I went outside and dominated, of course I didn't throw at full speed but the kids were doing their best and aiming for my head ahhaha. I was pulled early from dodgeball because I had a meeting for classes next week. It went quicky but by then recess was over, damn!

After that I taught 6th graders. After doing my introduction to them they wanted my pictures I drew of Naruto characters. All the kids were saying SASUKE PUREASE! (sasuke please) Haha, after the class they all wanted to see the pictures again.

The lesson plan for the 6th graders was "What are you doing?" and then "I am ___" so I had a bunch of flash cards like "Playing the piano" "walking" "swimming" ect. After they understood what everything was we played "Karuta" which is a popular game they play in Japanese schools. Groups of about 4-5 students push their desks together and the teacher puts little pictures cards their desks in the middle. So the teacher asks me "What are you doing?" I respond "I am swimming." then the students try to grab the card with the picture of a guy swimming on it. The object of the game is to get as many cards as you can correctly.

I would trick the kids, when there was just 1 card left and it was "I am playing baseball." I would say playing the piano, or basketball and they would grab the card ... WRONG! hahah. Karuta is fun, and fun to watch.

After that I got to go home early because they said that there are times where they will require me to stay past my designated 4:15 time so when I finish early they want me to go home early. I was happy to oblige, but before I left I talked alot with the English Cooridator at the school. She was interested in knowing a bit about me and it was nice to talk to her.

I'm not sure whats going on tonight, but tomorrow everyone here has a doctors appointment because the company wants us to get all checked out. Luckily it's paid for so thats good although I bet it will take all day... so its kind of a waste of a Saturday and I have to get up early and all but whateva.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Funatsugawa Elementary 船津川小学校

Today I taught at Funatsugawa Elementary School. It is about a 20-30 minute bike ride South of where I live which is already kind of close to the southern outskirts of Sano. So I woke up real early so I could get there by 8:00am, but I biked too fast and ended up getting there at about 7:40. The woman that was there kept saying Hayai! which means early. I was like I know I misjudged how long it would take me.

I already knew the school was small, but I was surprised when I actually saw how small it was. Not in terms of size of the building, but it only has 21 students total, in the entire school! So in the morning they assembled upstairs and I did my Jiko shokai (self introduction) in front of all of them. They enjoyed it and again were surprised at the same stuff as the kids at other schools.

My average class size up to this point was 35. I taught four classes today, my first I had 8 students (1st and 2nd grade combined), next I taught 3rd/4th grade and it had only 4 students total! After that I taught 5th/6th grade and it had 9 students. So today I taught the entire school hahah. A kid in the 4th grade wanted me to draw him a picture of a naruto character so I asked him who was his favorite. He told me Sasuke, I said sure. Another kid asked if he could borrow my comics of Naruto but I was like I only have one.. haha. I'm not scheduled to be going back to Funatsugawa for another month so I have plenty of time to draw the picture haha.

At recess we played a schoolwide game of dodgeball it was alot of fun. After we played frisbee a little bit. They told me to please bring the frisbee back next time.

The class I had most fun in was probably surprisingly 5th/6th grade. It was funny because we played this taxi scenario game. I pretended to be a taxi driver because the students were learning: "Where do you want to go" "I want to go to _____". So I'd pretend to drive by they'd put their hand up and I'd say "Where do you want go?" Then they'd say for example "The beach". I took flash cards and posted them around the room of the locations then I'd drive around the room with them and drop them off at the place they wanted to go. It was funny, every once in a while I'd purposefully pass it and then be like wait a second and go Beep beep beep and back up.

Tomorrow I teach at a new school, Tenmyo Elementary 天明小学校. Luckily this one is closer haha.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Teaching: DAY THREE

Today I taught my third and final day this week at Ueno. I taught all of the 1st grade classes and the average class size was about 35 students. The first graders enjoyed my self introduction and some reoccuring responses are developing from every class I have introduced myself to I've noticed. After the class the kids came up to me and asked a couple questions and a few of them wanted to touch my beard hahaha.

The first graders were SO FREEKIN CUTE! I taught them about the weather. How's the weather? It's sunny, windy, cloudy, rainy, ect. The kids all had a blast learning because I was being really funny. For wind I would pretend to get blown away they were all cracking up. And during some of the other ones I would do a little dumb dance or mess around and a few kids would catch it and mimic me it was funny.

The teachers had to encourage them to speak louder so when they started yelling I pretended to be shocked and covered my ears. This made them yell even louder hahah then the teachers had to tell them to quiet down. I ate lunch with the kids too, we had some good food today, we had 2 meatballs (ahahha) some asian version of vegetable soup, a small sub sized piece of bread (covered in sugar like a doughnut) and some apple jello. After that I went out to play recess, alot of the kids from my previous classes recognized me and wanted to play frisbee again WOOP!

Shortly after getting outside one of the teachers (Ms. Matsumoto who's 22 like me yay!) told me I had a meeting so I had to skip recess. I was bummed out but its ok because the meeting went well and the teacher Mr. Ayuse kept saying that I was skilled in Japanese. I was like hells no I'm not!

Whenever I'm bored in the teachers room I learn from my Genki textbook and use my dictionary to learn some new words. Even if I don't learn much new grammar its always good to know more vocab. Everyday I've been taking notes of stuff I want to say in Japanese and then adding it to my Digital Flash Card deck, so even though I'm not getting any official schooling on Japanese I'll learn new stuff. I almost fell asleep in the teachers room the past two days, so I should start getting more sleep. It's rough because I eat, then go to recess, then come back and sit for two hours in the hot teachers room and try to study but always come inches from dozing off.

I also am a bit bored at home so I've been drawing more pictures haha, tonight I drew Sasuke from Naruto. Its cool because they will make great prizes for kids in some of my classes. Check em out.

Tomorrow I go teach at Funatsugawa Elementary School, which is about a 30 minute bike ride out in the country side. I'm actually teaching the entire school in one day. It's funny because an average class size I've taught so far has be around 35. Funatsugawa Elementary has a total of 21 students (including 1st - 6th grade). It's crazy, but its great because then I can actually get to know the kids names! Unfortunately I only get to teach there twice a month but by the end of the time I'll def. know the kids names there.

Tomorrow should be fun.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

2nd Day of Classes

So today, I taught at the same school as yesterday Ueno Elementary School (this is my primary school in that I teach here the most). Today was much more fun that yesterday since I taught 3rd graders, which I've heard are supposed to be the most fun to teach. All the kids loved my introduction and wanted to see the stuff after it was over. They think Luke is really cute, that my Mom is beautiful, and are all amazed at the age difference between me and my brothers. They think I'm good at drawing, haha no way, they asked if I was a comic artist haha NOPE! It's funny because alot of the teachers here like Naruto (an anime I watch) as much as the kids. I taught 4 classes today, which is all of the 3rd grade at my school. The lesson plan was almost the same as yesterday. I got to sing head shoulders knees and toes and the kids all laughed because I did mine exagerated. I would open my mouth huge on the mouth part and pull my ears out on the ears part. I also lifted my leg and touched my knees and toes instead of bending down sometimes hahah. The kids are all so freekin cute!

It seems that every class has some sort of trouble maker, which isn't that bad because I can just tell them to stop it in Japanese. Some are just more forward and or weird that others, like one today tried to jump to much on me so I stopped him.

Today I got to go to recess with the kids which was alot of fun. I taught them how to play Frisbee. This one kid, I never got to asking his name, was attached to my hip for the whole recess. Even though all the rest of the kids went crazy for the Frisbee, would throw it and rush to it, this one kid just stood by me the whole time haha. They just crowded and fought over the Frisbee until someone finally threw it. I had to break them into teams so they could actually throw it and catch it without hitting each other in the face. Naturally they wanted a Otoko team and a Onna team (boys and girls) which was fine. After breaking them up they threw it from group to group which was fun to watch.

After recess I had a 2 hour break and then a meeting to make lesson plans for classes next week (4th grade and 6th grade). It went well and I understood alot of what they were saying at the meeting. I also brought my dictionary just in case haha.

After the meeting I posted a note in Japanese that if any teachers want to learn English I'd be happy to teach them, and I put my email on it.

On the way home (on my bike) I rode past a store and some kids inside said NIKORASU SENSEI!? I noticed and waved they all went crazy haha. That right there pretty much made my day that I've only been there two days and kids are already recognizing me and excited to see me.

Tomorrow I teach 1st graders, apparently they don't learn anything, but I'll see what I can do.