Monday, July 27, 2009

kiotskete ne

My internet will be turned off tomorrow so I suppose I should take this moment to write one last blog while in Japan. But I am really tired from crying at work and having the craziest karaoke time ever last night. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been beaten up. That is how crazy the karaoke got.

teeth sucking emotion

It is strange saying goodbye to things and people that I know I will probably never see again. People that I am sure I will not even have a chance meeting with because they will just go on doing their thing over here in Asia while I will be millions of miles away. It is stressful to have my work basically dictate everything about leaving this country at this point. But, I do feel incredibly lucky to have worked with some of the people I did. Especially the woman I worked with at the Junior High School for these last two years. She is an amazing teacher and I know that if I had had her as a foreign language teacher while I was in Junior High School I would have felt much more enthusiastic about that subject.

At least I do know I will be going out on a high note among the English teacher community in Tokushima. In some superlatives I walked away with best dancer, best dressed, and best personality. I think superlatives are a little dumb and I did not vote for anything. But, I will be real, when I heard about my big wins I basically thought that high school can suck and then I felt good about myself.

And saying goodbye to my foreigner friends is just really really sad because there are a couple of them that I just really like. I know I will see the important ones again. But, we will probably never get naked in a bath together again or casually eat dinner while sitting under the kotatsu.
Bar G
sweet ladies

And these are some of the most genuinely kind people I have met.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What I Have versus What I Do Not Have

I have a lot of things I need to do. I do not have much time to do them. I need to be out of my apartment on July 28th. At which time I will no longer have a place to live. I do have a one way ticket to Beijing and a train ticket to Mongolia. Soon I will not have a job or health insurance. But, I did have the chance to do this:
Pass the Mic
The finger and floor

Which was important because it was really fun.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meditating on the Good

This past week has been full of goodbye ceremonies. From Tuesday- Friday I went to a different school and was involved in some sort of ceremony. The most fun was certainly at Kawasaki Elementary School. There are only 10 students at that school and they did two dances and we ate homemade cake. Everything about that afternoon was just about perfect.
On Thursday, Hakuchi Elementary School held a farewell ceremony for both myself and another Japanese English Teacher. The students and teachers at Hakuchi have been wonderful these past two years. I wrote a speech in English and a Japanese friend kindly helped me translate it. I said it first in English and then in Japanese.
Both Julia and Brad have inspired me to write my farewell speech on my blog. I will write it in English only because, honestly, it is when I read the English words that I began cry and felt sincerely moved. I could have written so many things to this school but I kept it simple do to the fact that I had to read the Japanese and I wanted some people to understand the English.

Hakuchi Elementary School,
The first time I came here I was nervous. I remember meeting Morimoto Sensei and she said I looked very young. I was worried I could not be your English teacher. But everyone was very nice. Soon I felt welcomed.
When I came to Japan I thought I might be lonely because I was far away from home. I lived alone for the first time and I did not know anyone in Ikeda.
Because all of you always chatted with me, I felt comfortable and happy at school. I was not lonely.
Sometimes Japanese people seem to be nervous when they talk with foreigners. The teachers and students at Hakuchi Elementary School were not nervous. All the students talked to me. Now, everyone at this school can speak English to foreigners. All of the teachers can easily have conversations in English. And that made me feel very welcomed here.
Thursday became my favorite day of the week. Thank you very much for welcoming me into your community. I will remember you forever. I will miss Hakuchi Elementary School very much.

On my last Thursday at Hakuchi, students continued to hand me origami and personal notes. Girls told me again and again (in English) that they loved me. And unlike most people in this culture the students at this school give and get hugs. While I understood the significance of the ten year old who deeply bowed to me at other schools, the hugs I received at Hakuchi felt really good. The teachers also find it endearing that these students love hugs.
At the end of the day I ate cake with the teachers in the staff room. I said a few more words and the principle and two of my favorite teachers walked me to my car. After I put everything in my car I gave them each a hug. I drove off, feeling overwhelming sad that I may never see them again

On Friday, I asked the Japanese English teacher at the Jr. High to call my supervisor to tell her that I will have no where to stay once the new English teacher moves into my apartment. The only thing that was resolved from that call was that she can not help me close my bank account.

I went to a final work party last night. I thought I was going to walk out of there and feel more accomplished than I felt when I graduated from college. Instead, I spent time at the party talking about the many things that I need help with in my last few weeks here. My supervisor is refusing to speak with me directly because she finds it to hard to communicate with foreigners and others talk about how busy they are. Luckily, I have slowly found resources.

Feeling like I am putting others at such an inconvenience is defeating to say the least. One of the many things I have learned in the last two years is that Japan can be a xenophobic country. I have been refused at restaurants, told I am 'thin for an American', and had $200 taken from my wallet because people did not want to ask me for it directly.

But, for now, in these last two trying weeks, I am really attempting to meditate on the good things that have happened in the last two years. Because there have been plenty. The grandmother of a special needs student at one of my schools engraved my initials on a wallet. I have never met this woman but when I received this gift I thought that some of these students might genuinely remember me as a good teacher.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This Tanabata I wished for an interesting and healthy future. Tanabata is up there in my top favorite holidays. Having the chance to legitimately make a wish is an incredibly hopeful feeling.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Naoshima's Bartender

I have been whining about returning to Naoshima for well over a year now. This past Sunday, Leah and I finally made it. The weather was beautiful and the only thing that went wrong was that no one brought sunscreen.

We took the ferry and rented bicycles.

We biked to the big pumpkin and took some pictures.

We went to the same museum I went to last time I was there. But this time the sun was out. So we went outside and took more pictures.

Then things began to take turns for the worst. People were hot, sunburned, biking up and down hills looking for some other exhibition, and no one had eaten lunch. We decided on the second cafe we found and agreed that just having a beer was going to be amazing. Leah started to fantasize about Hoegaarden. I told her to stop because we were probably going to have to drink Asahi. But, after walking our bikes up a narrow path we took our seats, looked at the drink menu, and there it was, Hoegaarden.
Summer Beers

We introduced the concept of putting a lemon in Hoegaarden to the cafe owner/ bartender. He drank one with us and we ordered another. He then let us sample the other brews he had along with the local sake.
Cafe Owner

Three hours later we finally left and laid in the grass to take more pictures. We only made it to one of the houses in the James Turrell Art House Project. Once we finally figured out where to go it was the last show in an exhibition about light. We got to go in for free. It was completely dark so Leah and I held hands. And after about ten minutes of complete blackness light gradually entered the room, giving us a perception of the space we had been sitting in.

We caught the ferry back and decided the sunburns were well worth it.