When I think of my time in Kushiro, many found memories come to mind: the cultural experiences like going to a tea ceremony and a kimono show, and the simple things like watching the sun set over the Kushiro river and eating delicious "Kashiwa" soba noodle in a tiny restaurant. But, most importantly, when I think of Kushiro, I am remind of the wonderful people.
(Tina form St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, left October 2008）
I am grateful to all of you for working at Alpha. Fumio Funaki
After reading the previous reports, I've seen that I haven't specified much about my job so that's what's I'm going to do today. Let me start with the job at Elementary Schools: When preparing the lessons, I usually divide the activities, games and songs into three age groups:
1st and 2nd graders (7-8 years old)
3rd and 4th graders (9-10 years old)
5th and 6th graders (11-12 years old)
Kushiro's board of education sends us a basic plan about what we have to teach. For example,
Colors, numbers and basic greetings for 1st graders and Animals, body parts and basic actions for 2nd graders. As they're young children, they are not able to reason yet and they cannot be sitting for a long time… more than 10 minutes is an eternity for them! Therefore, we usually play games which involve physical activity, such as Karuta, Flay Swatter, Fruits basket, Simon says, and we usually dance a lot of songs: Head, shoulders, knees and toes, Hokey Pokey, etc. Kids are usually super cute and they look at me as if I were the new attraction of the zoo. That's why there are not many foreigners in the city. I usually have a lot of fun with them. They always have tons of questions and times passes by very, very quickly with lower graders. 3rd and 4th graders form the second group. The kids are a bit older so I can plan more difficult activities. The activities don't need to be so physically though the more physically they are, the more fun the children have. They learn about likes and favorites, emotions, animals and weather expressions. The main difference comes with the songs. Apart from dancing, the students are able to sing very basic English songs, such as BINGO, Twinkle little star or Incy Wincy Spider. 3rd, Karuta 1 3rd, Haetataki 1
A friend told Asuka about Kaminoko Ike, about 30 minutes away from Mashu-ko. Kaminoko Ike is a small pond with blue-emerald water. I had never seen this color before going there. It's not in the guides so it's not a touristy spot, which makes it even better. If you ever come to Hokkaido, I definitely recommend you to go there.Another place we went to on a weekend trip, is Shiretoko National Park. The chromatic variety of the autumn leaves was splendid. The walk around the 5 lakes, beautiful. The only black spot of the trip was the Sunday morning weather; due to strong wind, the cruises were cancelled and we couldn't see the peninsula from the sea.
October was the Good byes month. Christine left the first and after a couple of weeks, so did Matt. We had been working together for half a year so their departure left me with a bittersweet feeling; happiness because they were going back home and sadness because we won't probably meet up again.
Leaving sentimentalism apart, I was left here alone with another thing… a whole bunch of work. I continued going to primary schools in the morning and teaching my regular evening classes, plus I now had to make substitutions for the American-Canadian couple.
Usually, there is no problem because the former teacher shows the new one how everything works but Matt left before Tracy came so I had to do some extra work.
Destiny wanted October to be a crazy month. I was given two new regular students: Hiroki, the ever smartest 7 year-old kid and a new Spanish student, Hiroe - a really privileged person learning languages. She spent one year in Costa Rica and within only twelve months, she achieved an awesome level of Spanish. She even knows the weird tenses and genders of the Iberian language. I've never met a person with such skills for languages.
That is not all though. To complete my nightmare, we celebrated Halloween on the 28th. The preparation for the party took us a daily average of one and a half hours. We had to redecorate Alpha, think and prepare some games, create a haunted house, etc.
As you can guess, I LOVE to complain but Halloween party was actually extremely fun!
We attempted to control 60 kids while Fumio was giving the instructions for the pinata.
If you have read September's report, you'll have seen that I wrote "I rarely go to high schools". Well, you know that as soon as a person says white, it is going to be black. I mean, after making a statement, the opposite happens, always! There were 22 working days in October and half of them -eleven- were at Junior High Schools. That was a relief as days at Chugakkos are very laid back. Rather than being the main teacher, our role is more as an assistant so I didn't have to prepare much for those classes.
I cannot add much more. Maybe, that within a week, ALL trees lost their leaves and temperatures dropped dramatically at night. Daytime was sunny and warm when the weather was not windy. The ephemeral beauty before the fall off the trees was at its splendor. The colors were awesome.
November started in the very same way October finished. To summarize it, one only word: busy! Tracy got a bad cold in Canada, so she cancelled her flight and came to Kushiro one week later, on the thirteenth. After her arrival, things calmed down again. From a personal point of view, I was happy in November. I mean more than usual. Even my Japanese is still very basic, I have already finished the book I had planned to get through by the end of the year. That's an anticipation of two months and therefore, I was glad to have achieved this short term goal before the date I had planned. However, I cannot sleep on the lavenders and far away from taking Nihongo no benkyo holidays, I spent the whole month reviewing the previous units and re-learning the vocabulary and grammar I had already forgotten. There's usually a 3 day weekend every month in Japan and so was it in November. Asuka and I hadn't been to Sapporo yet and we decided to spend that long weekend there. Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and it's the fifth largest city in Japan by population. We had a very nice 4-hour-trip by train. We were warm inside the wagon while we could enjoy beautiful snow-covered landscapes with some snowflakes falling in the air from time to time. Once there, we visited the must go places, such as Odori Park, Sapporo Clock Tower and so on.
Thank you Jordi. It was pleasure to have you at Alpha.