Hokuyo JHS. Not the best view of the school, but when you've seen one Japanese school, you've seen them all
My, have things have changed since Higashi Yonesato.
I've gone from a Junior High that consisted of 4 students, to Hokuyo JHS, a school of 500, and my goodness, what a difference. Being at elementary schools - some of them very large - definitely helped me to prepare for this new assignment, but I was still pretty nervous when I started at Hokuyo on Friday. I had had so much success at elementary school, would Junior High schoolers accept me in the same way? What if they have no interest in English? Teaching JH Schoolers is such a tightrope walk, you're never really sure what's in store for you. So this Monday brought a lot of nervousness for me, as it was going to be my first full day at the school. The principal is very nice, and he even speaks a little English (and as I mentioned before, a wonderful singing voice, which I learned is because he was once a music teacher!) The three English teachers I work with are really great as well, and I've especially connected with the first grade teacher, an older woman who's sometimes forgetful and treats me almost like a daughter. I was so relieved when I entered the classrooms this week and found that a large majority of the students really have an interest in English, so half the battles already won! And I was also surprised that much of the rock-star feeling I had in elementary school has carried over to Hokuyo as well. Walking down the hall is always an adventure, as I hear "Sarah, Sarah! Cute-0" as I walk by. The girl students are so sweet, and are super excited to know that I like Arashii and Kara (J-pop boy band and K-pop girl band) (Note to self: listen to more Arashii and Kara music!) Two girls in first grade have taken a particular liking to me and yell my name at the top of their lungs whenever they see me. Then they walk me down the hall, arm in arm, and tell me about they boys they like.
And the boys....well, they like me too. Some much more than others. And by much more, I mean they have professed their love for me for everyone to hear. This week, I've had at least 5 five boys tell me they love me and if I love my husband. One conversation went like this, as third graders were giving their introduction of themselves to me one-by-one.
Student: Hello. My name is ----, and I love Sarah!
Me: (Points to myself) Really?
Student: Yes, but (points to girl on other side of room, she's in the picture above) my girlfriend, so (shakes hand in front of face)
While I was walking with some girls after lunch, a large group of second grade boys appeared and pushed this one boy toward me. This particular boy had already professed his love earlier in class, but apparently that just wasn't enough.
Student: Sarah, I,I,I,I have heart. (puts hands to chest) And, And, And........
Student: And I love Sarah!!!! (Puts hand out as if proposing to me)
Me: (laughing hysterically with other students) I'm sorry, but I'm already married. (points to wedding ring)
Student: Oh. (Walks dejected back to group of boys, who are laughing as hard as I am).
I'm sure other ALT ladies are used to this type of behavior, but this is definitely a new experience for me. I'm just glad the kids like me, it makes my job a whole lot easier.
For those family and friends not familiar with Japanese JHS, here's some observations and comments:
- I'm pretty sure every school in Japan is designed exactly the same way. The school office is always on the second floor, there's always at least 2 or 3 floors in each school (Hokuyo has 4), and the practice fields are always dirt.
- Junior High is three grades, first grade (US 7th grade) second grade (8th), and third grade (9th).
- Teachers stay in a large room called the Teacher's Room, and they move from classroom to classroom, with the students staying in one room all day. Except for specials classes.
- The Japanese know how to do a uniform. Japanese students are the nicest dressed students I have ever seen; the picture above really doesn't do them justice, but the boys wear ties and jackets, and the girls wear a vest,skirt, and jacket. Spiffy. And yes, some schools do have the sailor-type uniforms for the girls, but I've only seen them on high-schoolers.
- The tea lady is always awesome. Yes, our school has a tea lady.
The girls softball team
So it looks like once again I've been blessed with a really great school. I haven't met all the classes yet, but I'm looking forward to that next week. Hopefully with less love professions.