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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Opening Ceremony & The Dawn Of The First Day

Once again there are no pictures to accompany this moment but I felt like I should make note of this before too many other things passed.

As the title alluded to, today was the opening ceremony for the second term of my junior high school. As ALTs we arrive in the middle of summer vacation so it's more likely than not that we won't have much to do for our first few weeks. It actually works out for the better I suppose because it allots an appropriate amount of time to get used to our new surroundings while also providing a buffer in which we can take care of all the important paperwork that needs doing.

So that being said, I had moments of spare time interspersed with sudden bursts of things to do. I think my initial advice for the next ALT (hopefully years from now) will be: prepare to have nothing to do until you have too much to do.

(editor's note: I had started writing this at my apartment yesterday but was too burned out and a bit fatigued from having the long day and small head cold to finish it up.)

So the day of the opening ceremony was interesting for me. I'd like to think it went off mostly without a hitch. I got to work dressed and pressed (minus the jacket because: seriously) on time then sat for a while before I was asked to move to the gym. Sono-sensei was kind enough to guide me there as well as explain what was happening to me. All the teachers lined up on one side of the gym while all the students sat on the floor in the middle. Normally the teachers circle the students - evenly spaced on all sides - which I had seen before while volunteering in Kofu, but today was a special day.

The principal gave some remarks, which were followed by the vice-principal's remarks as to what was going to happen next. There was an odd mix of formality for formality's sake and lighthearted jabs from the principal every now and again towards the ends of his speeches. Even though no one was there to watch the event, just students and staff, it was all orchestrated as though we were being filmed.

Not too long into the speeches and announcements, the vice-principal (hereinafter Kyoutou-sensei) walked up to me and said that we'll walk together to where I need to be next. He took me to the other side of the gym across and told me that they would signal when I was to walk up on the stage for my speech.

Eventually that time came and I was beckoned from across the way. I scaled the steps and almost made it all the way to the podium before I heard Kyoutou-sensei's voice telling me to stop, and to sit in the chair next to the podium. Apparently I wasn't to speak just yet. Kouchou-sensei (principal) came up on the stage and offered a few more words - though he had just done so - on my behalf before I was told to get up on stage and speak. The speech part (the part I was worried about) went off without a hitch, and I think everyone was very happy with how I spoke.

I started walking off the stage and was once again being talked to from across the gym. This time it was because I was taking off too fast. Apparently I was to stay there while another student came up to the front of all the students and spoke in English and Japanese to me. It was their small introduction speech to match mine as read by this one particular female student. Though we were both required to make speeches to one another I cannot help but feel that we captured every ounce of sincerity that we could within the confines of a planned task.

The ceremony was basically over after that. A few more words from a few more people. We all filed back into our offices and rooms for a day of testing and no classes.

Or so I was told.

As I sat in my chair planning out what I would do for the rest of the day Fuketa-Sensei (Science teacher) came to me and asked in Japanese if I was ready to do preparations. For what, I inquired of him. To show all the movies about your home later today, he replied in kind. I was so not ready for this because I thought I would be showing movies and doing lessons the day AFTER this one. And as much as I insisted that I didn't have anything ready, only small things, he felt that those would be okay.

The lesson in this situation if there could be said to be one is: don't try to be diminutive of your non-work. That being said, he seemed like there were more preparations made for this moment that I had anticipated so I immediately jumped into my laptop - which I had brought that day so I could work on what I was planning to show the next day. I pulled pictures, videos, and recycled a powerpoint presentation that was meant for an English Camp but would work well enough for this occasion. I emailed my brother and asked him to take some quick videos of our house and send them via email so I could try to slip them in. The videos I wanted to show to the kids however weren't exactly the kinds of things that Fuketa-sensei had in mind.

I had dug up footage of Disneyland, which came out upside down on his laptop (thus useless) along with footage from things around my neck of the woods. I would've shown it on my laptop but I didn't bring the cables and adapters to plug it in because I hadn't planned (nor was I told)  that I would be doing something like that, that day. Disneyland aside, I tried to pick interesting things like the Red Bull Flugtag event in Long Beach.

While doing my preparations Fuketa-sensei saw it and said, "Is this... your hometown?"

To which I responded, "No, but it's in Long Beach which is very close to where I live."

Turns out this is not what they wanted, interesting footage of stuff that goes on where I live. So I scrambled once more to find a video of something that was partially, tangentially, related to me. It was a bit hectic that first day. Running downstairs to plug in a flash drive dump some stuff I got in an email from my brother, then running back up, putting it on Fuketa-sensei's laptop, videos being upside down, trying to install VLC so I could flip them, that not working, rinse, repeat, so on.

In the end I pulled it off by the skin of my teeth. I spent the rest of my day preparing more poster boards because I wanted to use those for the rest of the self introduction lessons. I didn't want to let anyone know about videos until I was absolutely ready and prepared to show a properly cut video of things I wanted to show.

That was the first day. I left without my bento (which I didn't eat because I spent my lunch hour trying to piece together a presentation) so I had to walk back to the school afterwards and get it. I wouldn't be able to eat it the next day because I would be eating school lunch with the students from that day on.

In other news I found out that my office has rats. Cool.


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