The Robinson fam just got back from meeting up with our first, genuine, Japanese friends. Harada-sensei (I guess I can call her Arisa now), was my first JTE at Higashi Yonesato, and we promised to keep in touch once I left the school. It's been two months now, and we finally met up with her and her husband tonight at Jacksonville, our favorite burger joint. Arisa's English is pretty good, and I have a feeling her husband knows more than he lets on (as most Japanese do). We laughed and talked about school and learning English and Japanese. Her husband gave Ethan his old Kendo boken, and I'm pretty sure he's now Ethan's best friend. He was impressed with how much Ethan already knew about kendo (thanks Butch!) and Japanese history, and told him that he had "a Japanese soul". They told us that they'd take us out for ramen some time, and we're going to get together again on Christmas day. As much as I love my JET family, it feels really good to have Japanese friends. It really makes me want to learn Japanese, just to take the pressure off of them from having to speak English all the time. I've met many other wonderful people at elementary schools as well, and some of them I've swapped e-mails and fully intend to keep in contact with. And I can't forget my adopted Japanese family at our favorite gyoza restaurant - I love Junko-san!
So this week I only attended one school, since Thursday and Friday I attended our ALT mid-year workshop. The school was waaaaaaay up in northern Sapporo, and I had to leave our apartment at 6:50 to catch the bus out there. It's supposedly a "lower-performing" school, but the kids were just as eager about English as the other schools I've been to. And not just eager about English, but eager about me in every way. I had 6th grade boys telling me they loved me and girls asking me to hang out with them on the weekends.
They also asked me if I "liked" their teacher. I always get this question when the class has a male teacher. I always kid around by saying, "Yes, but I'm married!"
When I had to leave, the kids made this tunnel for me to walk through.
Such a sweet group of kids. Three days go by so quickly.
And boy, did the students at this school really lay on the presents!! Letters, cards, a soap dispenser (!), and about 8 straps! I was overwhelmed.
My favorite gift was the friendship bracelets given to me by a group of 6th grade girls who also wrote me the huge "Sara Book". And yes, that is an artistic rendition of me with giant blue eyes.
It's sad to think that I now have only 3 more schools this next week and my elementary school tour will be over. I think my visits to these schools are more than just helping the home room teacher with an English lesson or two. I feel like my visits have helped these students begin an interest in English that I hope will continue as they grow. And who knows, I may even see some of them again when they enter Junior High!!