Saturday, 18 April 2015

The beginning of the end

The new school year has begun and I am really busy. Normally life at work ebbs and flows, but this new school year has brought new responsibilities and a much busier work schedule. We also have a completely new building to navigate and that meant a seating change for me. I sit near the 1st grade teaching section, but I am seated with assistant or part time teachers. I have some space to myself and really love my new seat!! I have also been assigned a few work projects that fill my time. I don't study Japanese at all any more, if I am not lesson planning or working on English club I am busy. It is a really awesome feeling. I finally also feel like I am an important member of staff. I am friendly with many teachers apart from the English department and I am included in school events in a way I wasn't before.

My weekends have become even more important as a chance to relax after busy weeks at work. Friday I finished work off with English Club. A few of us enjoyed hanami and then coffee. I have been blessed with some really special students. On Saturday I hiked up Ochidani with Hannah and on Sunday after church I enjoyed the last of hanami season. The cherry blossoms here have been so magical this year. I think in part because I am finally starting to realize just how quickly this Japan experience is coming to an end. It is so hard to believe that it will soon become pictures on my walls and stories I tell, a distant memory.

This past week we had our school excursion to the sand dunes. I was invited to walk with 1-2 class and found myself walking next to the sweet Saki-san, a new student who is also an E.S.S member. We had a great chat and I enjoyed the walk immensely. Once at the dunes the students are free to go off and the staff basically chat for 3 hours. This part can be a challenge as I don't have near enough Japanese to keep up with that long of a conversation. However I was pleasantly surprised by how included I felt. After sharing a staff bento lunch I headed out to take some pictures on the dunes and part way met up with the new music teacher who surprised me with her fluency. We chatted for over an hour and by the time I got back to the meeting area the day was almost finished.
Endless Sand
Backpack apocalypse
I am really spoiled in this job. Although there have been ups and downs, as my first full time ESL job I really can't complain. I have been given responsibility, am trusted in many areas and have helped a lot of students enjoy English. I am nervous about going home and being without the safety net of a good salary and subsidized housing, however I know that these two years have been the most valuable experience I could have ever hoped for. I learned to live alone in a foreign environment. I created a spot for myself in a school where I am the only foreigner, and I massively improved my ability to teach. I am more confident in myself and although I have been surprised at how much I have changed, I am also confident that when I go home I will be ready for the next step.

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