Sometimes my job is very frustrating. Today is a fine example of that. It is Wednesday and I was told today that we will be having a school festival Saturday. I assume everyone at my school has known that this festival will be taking place Saturday for quite some time. I assume it has probably been discussed (in Japanese) right in front of me. I assume the staff have received numerous handouts (in Japanese) detailing the event. I assume all these things to be true, but I would never assume I knew about it!
I would not even know about it now had the school nurse not offhandedly mentioned how excited she was about it. This shows a deep routed problem at my school (and most schools), people don’t tell ALTs anything! All my friends have had the same problem (to varying degrees). It is very frustrating that I am just expected to “know” that there is a festival Saturday. I can understand if I could read the language or even speak it, but I can’t. Nor am I required to be able to for this job. If it should be a requirement, then it should be an official requirement. I don’t know what they expect me to do, ask every week, “Will there be an important event this week?... Will there be an important event this week? … Will there be an important event this week? …” Even Dan, who is leaps and bounds better than anyone else, is frequently surprised by things no one bothered to tell him about. Even people like Dan, who are very good but not “native speaker” level, cannot be expected to understand every kanji, procedure, meeting, and piece of paper that crosses our ears/hands/eyes/desks. If I asked what even 50% of the papers that end up on my desk were it would be a full time job, and the vast majority are utterly unrelated to me in any way shape or form. I know that because in the beginning I DID ask what every paper that ended up on my desk was. It annoyed my English teachers, and was utterly useless because I extracted no useful information.
I know I am not a “teacher”, but I diserve to be told about things like weekend school festival so I can plan accordingly. Luckily I am not expected to participate in this festival. It sounds like I show up, walk around and can go home. It runs from 12:00-3:00 so there is even a generous window of time, but what if this wasn’t the case? What if my presence was mandatory, or, worse yet, participation was mandatory? Or what if I had made plans for Saturday? I got lucky this time. Lucky I am free. Lucky I am not required to do much. But most of all, lucky I even found out about the event.
Last year I came to school on a day that no one else worked. No one bothered to tell me this, so I showed up at school on time to find the gate locked and the building dark. I was concerned, called the school from my cell, rang the bell, and eventually walked home (all be it a bit happy that school had apparently been canceled). I laughed it off when retelling the story to teachers the next day, but I thought I also made it pretty clear what happened should not become a running “gag”. It appears it may be.