Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goodbye, Hitsujigaoka

Yesterday was my final day at Hitsujigaoka. I have to admit, I didn't think leaving this school was going to be as hard as it was. I had been told that the school was a little bit lower academically than Hokuyo, and it took much longer for the students to warm up to me. But once the students got used to having me in the classroom, and I got used to their personalities, it became a joy to work with them every day. It was hard telling all the students goodbye at the closing ceremony, with all of them waving as I walked out of the gym. I told them in Japanese that I would miss them and that I'm coming back for their school festival in September. And I meant it.

As much as I enjoyed all the students at the school, I have to admit that I had some favorites, mainly in class 2-1 (picture above). I loved this class. Lots of big personalities, and they weren't afraid to speak English and go out of their comfort zones. I'd make excuses to come visit their classroom, and they'd ask everyday if I could eat lunch with them. One day last week, their homeroom teacher asked if I'd come by and take a class photo with them. Then on the last day, they gave me a copy of it with messages from each students (in English, no less!).

There was also a boy in this class who apparently had a huge crush on me, and everyone - even teachers - knew about it except me. He never talked to me outside the class like other kids do, but I did notice that whenever I had conversation practice with him during class, everyone would get so quiet and just watch. Finally, one of the teachers told me that he was in love with me but he was too shy to talk. Haha, young love is hard...

Below is more pictures of that class:

Musashi posing for the camera. He made me laugh every day.

The boy on the right is Yuuki. I gave him the nickname Mameshiba.
The girl on the far left is Riko, and she was one of Nathan's students at Mary School. One of the sweetest personalities I've ever met. She cried when she told me goodbye, it brought tears to my eyes!

The rest of these pictures I took on my last two days:
Ichi nensei (7th grade) girls. The one on the left spoke really great English, and was learning French as well. We'd speak in both languages together!

This is Shun. Everyday he'd say to me, "Good Afternoon", no matter what time of day it was!

San nensei (9th grade) was a difficult group to get to know. Class 3-5 was the exception, and these girls were so friendly. They sang me a song last Friday as my going away present.

Another one of my favorite ni nensei classes. Daisuke, the boy next to me, would thumb wrestle with me every day. We did this almost every day for the three months I was at the school. We had our final match yesterday, and I won. He was also the pitcher for the baseball team and would tell me about his games. Gonna miss him.

More ni nensei boys. The short one in the middle I nicknamed Crazy Boy, because on my first day, he came up to me jumping and screaming saying, "I'm crazy!!"

Two cute ni nensei girls. Can you tell ni nensei was my favorite? Although ichi nensei comes close...

I was given some really sweet goodbye gifts as well. 8-kumi (the special education class), gave me a tea cup and saucer that the students hand made. Really, really beautiful. I'll treasure it always.

Several students gave me letters, origami, and other little trinkets. As I was leaving, one girl came up to me and put this in my hand:

A card-sized picture of Ninomiya Kazunari - Nino for short - a member of the J-Pop band, Arashi. When you teach JHS, it's inevitable that a student is going to ask you if you like Arashi, and which member you like best. I've chosen to like Nino, mainly because he's the only one I'm slightly familiar with (he was in the Clint Eastwood film, "Letters from Iwojima"). I guess this student had remembered that I'd said he was my favorite. Now that's a thoughtful gift!

I tried to say goodbye and hug as many students as I could, but when you've taught 600 students, you're bound to miss a few. I just hope that I made as much of an impact on them as they did on me. "Lower" school or not, I found the students to be bright, energetic, and friendly. With maybe just a little wildness thrown in there, but that keeps things exciting!

Goodbye, Hitsujigaoka. I'll miss you!!

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