Doukanmatsuri

Honestly, one of the big motivations for me to write frequently is the amount of dead time at work. One of the ways that the company is able to keep costs down is by not paying for health insurance/ pension by not counting hours that I am not actually in the classroom. Things like prep time is technically my time and so is unpaid. I design all my lessons at home on my computer, and I make all my necessary prints on Mondays, so on days like today, I have a few hours of dead time.

For new ALTs, they don’t have a spare moment, and the majority of them never get beyond just being new. They may stay for 1 or 2 years before moving along. The system works really well for backpacker who need a base to explore Japan and Asia. It works poorly for the kids though, who may cycle through a dozen or so different ALTs in their student life. The minority of us who stay have developed a schtick. For me, I have a finely crafted stage persona. An aspect of myself that is nowhere near what I actually am as a person, but an engaging extrovert exuding confidence. Reality is that I would rather just be unnoticed, anonymous and left alone. The latter is the antithesis of teaching. So now, after teaching in this city for many years, almost every child under 14 knows me. They will always let me know if they have seen me outside the class or if someone they know have seen me, which is weird… Do they pass around wanted posters of me or something? I know the students pretty well, and exactly what or what they aren’t capable of. Making lessons now is just tweaking lessons I made years ago to adapt to the circumstance of each class.

Today I got to see my favorite student in the city. She isn’t the best at English but she is such a sweetie. She is both South American and Japanese ancestry so she really stands out. Whenever she sees me she runs up to me and gives me a huge hug, something most people in Japan are very reluctant to do. She is always big smiles and a girl with a super can-do attitude. I also know she is abused. I know her mother, who I think is from Argentina has had a series of abusive Japanese boyfriends… One who tried to strangle the kid. She disappeared for a month in police protective custody in another city after that incident. That’s how I found out about her situation in the first place, when one of the Japanese teachers spilled the beans after I inquired where she was. I hadn’t seen her in a while. She has every reason to hate men, very real reasons, but she doesn’t. She loves being at school, and she adores her teachers… Especially the male teachers. Sometimes I just wish I could adopt that girl.

On another note, one of the big festivals is coming; The doukanmatsuri. I always miss it for one reason or another, so I have never been. I do know that it is very popular with my students, so if I go, I will be hounded by the my kids… But with cell phones, which makes them paparazzi. It doesn’t look like anything beyond your normal festival, but it may be worth a look.

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