So I recently blogged about my observations while teaching English at a local elementary school here. As I was there yesterday, I realized that I had only communicated a fraction of my learning experiences. So here are some more.
The first time I went to the school, it was a rainy morning. I’d never even been inside a public school here and so I had no idea what to expect. I had tried to gather as much information as possible, but of course, people who I asked weren’t quite sure how to answer my unknowns as what I was asking was obvious to them.
Anyway, I entered through the children’s entrance instead of the teacher’s entrance. Given that I have a white face and was clearly not where I should be must have instantly clued in the teachers that I was indeed the new English teacher. Did I mention I didn’t have socks that day? I had no idea that I would be taking my shoes off (students/teachers wear separate indoor shoes). I had to regather my shoes and umbrella and make my way to the entrance for adults. Thankfully the teachers who spotted me were exactly the ones I’d be working with; they were kind to point me to a locker with guest slippers.
Anyway, now that I am educated on which entrance to use and where to store my outdoor shoes, I feel at least somewhat competent.
It’s still quite a site to behold every time I go. It’s not yet normal to me, though there are many facets of Japanese life that I’m used to that are in place here. I guess the thing is that it’s all here: all in one place. It’s so Japanese, I can’t help but gawk.
Everybody saying Good morning to every single person they pass. The men dressed nicely in blazers or suits while the women are significantly less formal (I still don’t get this? The teachers I met the first morning I originally assumed were parents). Women in aprons serving green tea to me and otherwise catering to the office needs. I’m not entirely sure what the scope of their job entails, but I’m always thankful for the warm tea.
Kids in their gym shorts in the halls that are open to the outside winter air.
The building that stands high (four stories?) as compared to long and wide two story buildings like elementary schools in my home country.
Students who come to retrieve and escort me to all other classes. The uniformity and conformity expected in responses. The conscientiousness shown by everyone, the little ones included, for the feelings of others.
But all in all, the students are still children. Some who are tender-hearted, some who are rambunctious, who love a good game, who enjoy laughter and light competition. Kids.
No matter where you go.