A while back Sasao 先生 (who was our old representative at the BOE –my boss essentially) asked for volunteers to come to his new job place and teach some kids. It was on a Saturday (categorically a day I avoid working) but Sasao was a great boss so I said I would do it. Last Saturday was my day with the youngins.
First, on Friday, Dan and I went up to try and find it. Here is something important you should know, Shijonawate is actually the next city up, but its train station is in Daito. I don’t understand that, and have never gotten a satisfactory answer. Needless to say, Dan and I made a mistake and ended up going to Nozaki station by mistake. We walked up to Shijonawate, which was maybe a ten minute walk. No big deal, but I should have known. Oops!
Once we had walked up to Shijonawate station, we found the place pretty easily. My true fans should recall that Shijonawate is also where I participated in last year’s giant float festival (danjiri). It was nice to walk around the area, and not have to be pushing a ten ton death machine with a bunch of intoxicated Japanese guys.
Saturday rolled around and I headed up there. The community center is located right in the mountain. The view from the room I taught in was pretty spectacular. I could see the Umeda district, including the Umeda sky building. It is always amazing to me to see just how small an area I live in. I think of Shijonawate, Daito, and
The class went really well. The kids were all around third, fourth, or maybe fifth grade of elementary school. They had seen foreigners before so they were not uncontrollably amazed that I did things like walk and drink beverages. Flora did not connect with the kids and said she had a bad time, but I really liked them. They were pretty intense, but we got along. The secret with working with kids is, make a complete idiot out of yourself in the first two minutes. You do that, and they will love you eternal. Seriously, after ten minutes of me dancing around like a moron and kissing my necktie (to demonstrate the fact that I like ties) I could have gotten the kids to overthrow the government.
We did my pretty standard little kid activity. We did basic introduction, followed by an intro relay race, then on to letters and my famous letter connect the dots trace relay race game. The 90 minute class just flew by (we had a 10 minute break). By the end the kids were a little rambunctious, but 90 minutes is a long time to sit through anything when not a word of your own language is spoken (regardless of whither the shmuck teaching the class is smooching his necktie or not). I stuck with my minimalist Japanese language policy, combining what few words I know with English they would know. They thought that was hilarious. I also forgot the words for left and right, so I wrote the kanji on the board – which razzle-dazzled them.
My one regret is that as I was walking out of the door of my apartment I thought, remember not to forget your camera, but I did anyway. So there are no pictures of them or lovely Shijonawate. Ohh well, maybe I’ll walk back up there this weekend and take some snapshots.