17 September 2004

ALTing

Hello, everyone. I now have the internet at home, but only for three weeks as home will be changing after the end of the month. That’s right, I landed new surroundings that are much, much cheaper and much, much bigger. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I won’t have the internet in the new place. So maybe we should all hug now.

Yeah, being an ALT is wonderful. I got to make an announcement over the school speaker system at one place. I was like Hitler addressing the troops amassed along the French border. Then, today, I had to speak Japanese in front of 800 wide-eyed grade schoolers. The principal of the school, kept warmly smiling at me and shaking my hand. I thought this was very nice, until I realized that every time he was doing this, someone was taking our picture. When I finished speaking in front of the assembly, he did the same thing, except it went from a very warm handshake to a hug that lasted longer than five-seconds. I was, of course shocked, my arms wrapped around this 50 year-old, withering Japanese man thinking, Now, I thought the Japanese never did this. As we (the flock of teachers) were walking back to the school, one of the teachers, based on this display, praised the Principal as being very “international.”

This position is very heavy on the LT part of ALT and light on the A part, meaning, I’m basically teaching full time, doing most anything I can think of to get these 4th graders to say, “I’m from Japan!” It’s nice though, as I finally feel like I’m actually learning how to teach. And I love the kids. I don’t know how this happened. I’m standing in the middle of a circle of first-graders, all of us stomping our feet as loud as we can with our hands over our heads, and just laughing. I thought to myself that I could do this for a very long time and be very content. I’m sure I’ll burn out sooner rather than later, but right now, it’s pretty great.

And Niigata, well, it isn’t that bad. It’s still Japan. I think I’ll try to get back to Fukuoka or Tokyo in 2006, but for a year and a half, this place will be pretty darn incredible.

Also, in additional good news, given that it’s about 1/2 as expensive to fly home from Tokyo than Fukuoka and I will save a ox-heap with my new apartment, I will most likely be home from Christmas. It'll be short though. maybe 10 days. Maybe someone will throw the New Years party to end all New Years parties. Any takers?

In additional, uh, additional good news, my plans to go to Europe from July 25th to August 28th ish are also coming together. Anyone wanna take the trek with me? I’m thinking about spending a week in five cities (probably Paris, somewhere in Germany/Switzerland, Rome, Romania, and one yet to be decided.) So. Who’s in? We’re gonna do it cheap. Hostels. Lots of Ramen. Stay with friends in Romania. This and that.

Yeah. This and that.
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