My Students

July 17, 2010 - Goshogawara, Japan


I haven’t really written much about my students recently, so I thought I’d update you all about life at my high school.  The first day of the school festival was really amazing.  My English club members are great, and we were able to get lots of people in to our room to read the posters, eat food, and make dream catchers.  Walking around seeing all the students relaxed and having fun was great.  The third year students sold delicious food and after seeing the rock band club groups perform, I was amazed again at how talented so many students are. 


In the week leading up to the school festival, I had International Club members over to my house to make cookies for the festival.  Unfortunately, we weren’t supposed to make anything to give to people before, so we couldn’t use our cookies.  Fortunately, we found this out the week prior and decided to eat the cookies ourselves.  Because everyone was so busy, I had the third year members over my apartment on Monday and the first year members came on Friday.  (We have no 2nd year members.)  We all had so much fun.  They were really excited to be in my apartment and asked to come again.  In fact, the first year students, who are much more forward than the third year students, left saying “I will come here again!” 


While the first year students were over, they told me about one of the girl’s boyfriend and another student that one of the other girls likes.  At my school, many students don’t like to tell their parents or teachers who they’re dating because they’re a bit shy.  They tend to only meet up with their boyfriends at the local mall if they have time.  Luckily, I’m sort of exempt from the “don’t tell your teacher rule” that most students seem to follow.  Because I’m young and foreign, the rules don’t apply to me very often.  (This is strongly evidenced by one boy who asks me to marry him every time I see him.  In fact, the same guy asked Maura to marry him too when he met her.  When I reminded him of this fact, he said that he likes us both, but he’d take me and he’d let his friend have Maura.  His friend liked this idea.)  At first, I found this difficult ground to navigate, but after being here for 2 years, I’ve learned to take advantage of still getting the respect that other teacher’s get without being considered a parent-like figure.  Instead, I’m more like an older sister.  Many girls, especially, tend to tell me about their love lives.  Some are quite cunning though.  One girl said that she’d only tell me which boy she was dating if I showed her a picture of the guy I’m dating.  I laughed and gave into her demands.  The girl has since broken up with that boy, and was slightly upset, but I managed to cheer her up a bit – I hope at least!  I really love that my students feel comfortable enough to confide in me and take my advice.  It’s sort of a funny situation though because when I was a student I never ever confided in teachers about personal things like this. 


I suppose everyone likes to be trusted enough to be told secrets, and I’m certainly no exception.  One 11 year-old girl whose father I play soccer with confided in me about her boyfriend.  She’s never even held hands with him, but they play soccer together and have been “dating” for 2 years.  I was the first adult she’s told, and it made my day that she really wanted to talk to me about it. 


My job truly is wonderful, despite the fact that sometimes I don’t feel challenged enough.  Building relationships with people and watching my students grow are two of the things I love most about being in Japan.  I was correct when I realized I couldn’t give all of that up after 2 years.  Even now when I think of having to leave around this time next year, I get pretty sad.  And it seems the longer I’m here, the longer people expect me to be here.  When I told the first year English club students that I planned to leave next year, they were shocked.  I guess that because they associate only me with this high school and not another foreign English teacher, it’s weird for them to imagine me leaving.  My friend’s children’s friends who were over my house recently with my friend were commenting that I should get married soon and have a baby because they thing the baby would be really cute.  When I said that I had quite a few years before doing that and I probably wouldn’t be in Japan for that part of my life, they couldn’t imagine why.  I guess, like my students, I’m no longer a transitory foreigner; I’m part of normal life here.  Honestly though, I kind of feel the same way.  I’m glad I still have a full year to enjoy!



Barb Robinson Kimyon:
September 10, 2010
Congrats on going for a third year! I have a quick linguistic question for you. Does Japanese have articles (A/THE)?

Love hearing about your experiences.
October 5, 2010
I've really enjoyed reading you blog. I have finally decided to take a job in Japan and it happens to be in Aomori Prefecture. I believe the site I'm supposed to work at is in Shariki. I am a SW Eng with Lockheed Martin. I should be getting there around Late November. I have a friend in Tokyo who lived up here and said it gets real cold. Anyway just wanted to say great blog.
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