Friday, February 29, 2008

Sara-Ballroom dance party

On Feb. 26th, I went to a dinner/recital/dance party that my ballroom dance teachers held. My teachers are Mr. and Mrs. Hakoishi, their son,Nobu, and Ekaterina, a Russian student who is about 24. It was at a hotel and other teachers from other schools were there as well. I believe most of the ballroom dance schools had one or two of their students perform. Then the teachers performed and we also had a world champion Italian couple perform. They are good friends with my teachers so they had agreed to come and dance at the party.
There was also a Chinese course dinner on a Lazy Susan.

I filmed a little bit of the event and broke it up into sections. I was able to film Ekatarina's performance with Nobu, but not Mr. and Mrs. Hakoishi. I used my digital camera and it was not able to handle the lighting very well. There was also dance time, where a live band played and anyone could dance on the dance floor. I danced the jitterbug once. I kept waiting to see Humphrey Bogart burst in after some woman he just offended. (Also, there is sound, so please be careful of where you have your volume.)

Sara-Field trip with Special Ed. Students

On Feb. 15th, I went out with the Special Ed. students because it was a test day and I didn't have any work to do. We first went to a small museum that had artifacts from the Jomon period which was from around 10,000B.C. to 300B.C. We made necklaces out of a soft stone that reminded me of chalk. We sandpapered the stone down until it looked like a tadpole. The man who was teaching us how to make them said that some have said that they might have been a charm of some sort, perhaps fertility, since they are also the shape of a fetus.
Then after the museum, we all went and ate lunch at a Karaoke restaurant. We had our own room and we sang and ate for a good two hours. We had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Patrick- Patrash

So my students were joking around after cleaning time, and one boy comes up to me and says, "My nickname is 'Slow Pikachu,' because I'm like Pikachu but not as fast." What's your nickname?

I replied I didn't have one and he said he'd make me one. He thinks for a second and says, "Ah! Patrash!"

Now if he had arrived at that name because I was always after him about picking up the trash (which I am, since he's the only boy able to make the room dirtier during cleaning time), I would have been impressed, but he didn't know the word "trash."

Later nickname suggestions included "Patri", "Patr" "Pa" and "Patrick." When I explained to him Patrick was my name, and therefore could not be a nickname, there was a brief pause, an epiphany, and then a sudden running away.

Patrick- Worship by means of self deprecation

Last week my school had a coming-of-age ceremony for the eighth graders, in which they each chose a phrase to represent themselves, presented calligraphy of said word, and made a thirty second speech. That was quite interesting.

But after that was a speech by a retired principal of the school. Now, as the oldest school in the prefecture, and counting a prime minister among its students, my junior high is a little heavy with history. Also, of course it is a stereotype that Japanese are abusive to themselves when expressing humility. But in my time here, I hadn't really encountered the kind of scenes that give rise to such stereotypes-- until this event.

So the principal started his speech by saying, "My speech will probably be boring, but..." This is a fairly common way of opening and unremarkable. However, he proceeded to say: "you can put the kinds of speeches on a grid, with one axis being interesting/uninteresting and the other good content/bad content. Of course, good content and interesting is the best kind of speech. Some examples of such speeches are x, y, and x. Second best is good content but not interesting. Examples include a, b, and c. I used to know a person who did such speeches." Etc, etc. Six minutes pass this way. "In conclusion, my speech will be neither interesting nor include good content, but it cannot be helped. You see, the teacher who invited me to speak knew this fully, and yet he still invited me..." Etc., etc. Three more minutes pass.

Now, the speech went on 80 minutes after that, but at least he started speaking about something other than the fact he wasn't good at speeches.

It amused me quite a bit, though, that as he enumerated the different types of speeches, of course I thought, "Well, his will definitely be in the last category," but when he concluded so himself, at length, I took some bizarre delight in the absurdity of the situation.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Patrick- Why did the US invade Iraq?

Written on the chalkboard when I entered the classroom today:

  • wanted to get oil

  • needed to demonstrate US military superiority

  • decided to strike back against a government the US didn't like

I'm not sure about my translation of the last one, but I'm fairly confident about the first two.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Patrick - Cheap Shot and Patrick Shock

So periodically students ask me for words that aren't in the textbook. About a month ago, a boy pantomimed the motion of being punched in the nuts and asked, "What's this?"

I said, "Oh, that's a cheap shot." But then the boy started going around asking, "Cheap shot ok? Cheap shot ok?"

I decided I would try to explain to the boy that "cheap shot" meant that it wasn't a good thing to do, so I pantomimed punching someone in the back and said, "This is also a cheap shot." But that didn't work, so I said, "Cheap shot... like cheap hamburger" hoping to draw attention to the meaning of "cheap." Instead, the boys (there were several of them by now) heard "cheap shot", thought of punching each other in the crotch, and then thought "cheap hamburger"... Well, as you can imagine, it was a disaster.


Also, somewhat unrelated, my students are fond of making words of their own. Today, though, we had a real winner-- "Patrick shock", which refers to the process (and feeling?) of almost crashing into me as you too fast around a corner. Which is, in fact, an ever present danger for several students who seem to be in the habit of running without looking.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patrick- "Hello, please try hard to get to school by 9 o'clock"

One thing that is a big difference from the schools I attended is that teachers call truant students in the morning-- and later, if they still haven't shown up.

School starts roughly at 8, but the first class isn't until 8:50. So, before that, there are some meetings for students and teachers etc. During these meetings, if the student hasn't arrived, their homeroom teacher calls home and the conversation will go something like this:

T: "Hello, is this student x?"
S: "Yes."
T: "Why aren't you here at school?"
S: Excuse.
T: "Forget that and come to school in the next thirty minutes."
S: Mumbles something.
T: "I'm serious. You better be here by x o'clock."
S: "Ok."

I find it amusing, but maybe I shouldn't. Actually what's surprising is that despite the relative lack of penalty for truancy (you can't get expelled, for example), most students still come to school on time every day.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Patrick- Random Observations

It's been a while, but I'll be posting much more soon. I've been doing really well and I have been working on various Internet projects in my absence, most of which are coming along quite nicely.

Today I'd just like to share some interesting little things.

First, about a week ago on the news was an interview with Senator Obama's grandmother, who lives in Kenya. As far as I can recall, I had never seen a candidate's grandmother interviewed for any office.

Second, I am getting tired of listening to Avril Lavigne every day for lunch. The kids are allowed to play whatever they want over the PA system for 10 minutes a day so about half of the time we are listening to her.

Third, I passed level 2 of the Japanese language proficiency test. This clears me to go for broke this December to try for the final grade.

Fourth, it is more expensive to buy ice cream bars in bulk than individually at the grocery store. To be clear, it is cheaper to buy six individually wrapped ice cream bars rather than one pack of six (same brand). In the same way, it is cheaper to buy several small containers of salad dressing rather than one large container of the same.