My second week of the elementary tour is almost over, and I have now visited 4 schools. I'm really glad I have the opportunity to visit so many, as it gives me a chance to really experience the broad range of neighborhoods and kids that make up Sapporo. Every school and it's students have been different, but there are definitely some common denominators I've noticed with each visit. Here's my very scientific (ha!) observations thus far:
- As a visiting ALT, you are seen as a rock star to the students. They oooh and ahhh over your eye and hair color, clap and cheer when you walk into the room, and watch you with awe as you say "hello". At my first school last week, I had a group that called themselves the "Sarah fan club". This group walked me to the bus stop on my last day, and ran beside the bus as it was driving away. It's a bit surreal.
The Sarah Fan Club.
- The amount of work a Japanese elementary school teacher is required to do amazes me. Each Home Room Teacher is not only the teacher of your regular classes - math, science, Japanese - but also teaches music, art, calligraphy, sewing and cooking, etc. There are no specials teachers, so the HRT does it all. Oh yeah, and teach English. Phew!
- When I eat lunch with the students, they enthralled with my ability to use chopsticks. I find this with the adults as well.
- Accordions are one of the instruments used by students in music class.
- Every Japanese student knows Texas and cowboys. And they think my parent's house is huge!
- I've been called "beautiful" and "cute" more times than I can count. It's quite the ego boost.
- Japanese 1st graders are about the cutest things I've ever seen. Especially when they try to talk English.
I have to say, it's so nice to be able to go to work with a huge smile on your face, and the kids don't ask you why you're so happy all the time (what my former US students used to tell me). Now when I smile, they smile back. I have a month and a half of elementary schools to go, and I can't wait to see what's ahead.