Sorry that this hasn’t been updating as often as it should be; I’ve been meaning to write about these things actually, but keep putting it off. I would say I’ll get better at it, but chances are, I won’t >.< At least I remembered to do it haha.
Okay! So recently, I went through my school’s graduation of their third years, end of the year party, staff change, entrance ceremony and start of the year party. If it’s odd that you’re hearing about this in April, well, that’s because the Japanese school system is on a different timeline that America or Canada or any other school timeline I’ve heard of. The start of the new school year is actually in April. Summer break starts at the end of July until the end of August. Winter break is from mid-December to early January. And then the end of the year is around the middle of March. So instead of graduation in June like most everyone is used to, this graduation was in March. My teachers were pretty shocked when I explained it to them.
That being said, I should also mention that Japan takes graduation VERY seriously. I mean, this was as super formal event, everyone showed up (even the 1st and 2nd years) and yeah… there was a lot of pomp and circumstance to this; I don’t remember my JHS graduation being this intense; granted, we don’t say “graduation” for JHS in the states. I believe the word is “promotion”. Anyways, they put a lot of detail and stuff into this ceremony. They practice for DAYS before hand. The day before the actual ceremony, they were practicing all day.
As the ALT, there wasn’t a whole lot I had to do or that was expected of me. I just had to dress nice, show up, and sit with the teachers. We sat a little off to the stage, the PTA on the other side, while the third years, parents and other students were arranged in the front (in that order). The students were marched in by class, led by their homeroom teachers. You could honestly tell this was a practiced event because the precision was ridiculous. Sharps turns, quick movements, the works.
The ceremony itself was really just a bunch of speeches given by the principal, members of the PTA, and the students themselves. Each student was called up by their homeroom teacher to walk up to the stage to receive their “diploma”. This was the longest part of the ceremony, but I taught two of the four classes, so I made sure to stay somewhat more attentive when those ones crossed the stage. Now, I had been warned that this was a very emotional event and that students might actually faint from the overwhelming emotion or whatever. I thought they were kidding.
Students were actually led out of the gym at certain points (if they looked pale or woobly). What’s interesting is that the teachers and parents, even the students, didn’t panic or freak out when someone dropped. The teachers all converged on the area and brought the student outside to recover and the ceremony continued as if nothing happened. At least 4 students fainted; a few others were escorted out, but I don’t think they ever fainted.
After they were done with the names, we moved everything from the stage and pushed the flowers aside so all the third years could pile up there for a group pictures. Finally, they sang a song for everyone and that’s when pretty much everyone in the gym started crying. They filed out as we clapped and went to the field to wait. Then we all left and went to the gates to clap for them as they left the school with their parents. Now, I wanted to stand near the end so my third year students could see me; but I was dragged to the middle and only a few saw me. Some I could see were looking for me, but never found me. I wanted to go to the park with them to take pictures, but no one would tell me where they were so I missed out L and I didn’t get to say good bye to a lot of them. It was REALLY dissatisfying, I’ll tell you that much.
On the 28th, we had a leaving ceremony for the staff at our school being moved to new schools or retiring. My principal was actually retiring so it was a big deal. We had a ceremony for it where all 10 of the teachers sat on the stage and gave speeches and announced where they were going; unfortunately, one of my JTE’s left. There’s also this interesting custom where you give gifts to the teachers leaving and they give you gifts too. Now, as the ALT, I wasn’t expecting anything at all. But I gave presents to all the teachers leaving, the gift itself dependent on how well I knew them. I actually ended up getting a few things; my principal even remembered how much I love roll cake and bought me a huge piece (in the bag).
We had our Sobetsukai (End of the Year Party) at a really ritzy hotel; got our picture taken (no smiling allowed apparently) and had some good food. Well, I assume it was good because I couldn’t eat half of it haha. Here, I guess it’s a common thing to throw people into the air (I think only guys) for accomplishments and stuff. Cause no joke, we were tossing the retiring teachers all over the place. Don’t believe me?
Do you now? 😛
I ducked out of the second and third party, mainly because I had to work the next day and partially because my stomach was acting up. But it was fun J On the last day of March, we threw confetti at the principal as he left the school for the last time; it was a great idea, but the cleanup was a pain in the BUTT. It certainly didn’t help that it was kinda windy that day either.
About a week or so later, we had the Opening Ceremony for the new school year and the Entrance Ceremony for the new incoming first years. The Opening Ceremony wasn’t any different from the other two that I’ve been to except that this time, ALL the teachers line up by year and subject and are introduced to the school. Being the ALT, I’m in the Free Teachers section and one of the last to be called.
The Entrance Ceremony is almost like a reverse Graduation ceremony. The parents all come and the PTA too; all of the students that were being sent to Hokubu were supposed to have been told that I work at Hokubu most days and that I would be their ALT again in April; however, many of them (meaning most) seemed to forget that I would be there. The majority of the day excited whispers and giggles of my name as well and boys yelling for me across the hallway followed me. At least they greeted me >.<
Lots of speeches and unfortunately, I had a nasty case of hay fever (I still kinda do actually) and kept trying to keep myself from having coughing fits. Instead of the students going up to the stage when their name was called, they just stood up and bowed to the principal. We were all put up on the stage again to be introduced. This brings me to:
Embarrassing School Moment #10: I having a terrible coughing attack and actually had to be escorted out of the gym until I was able to regain my ability to breathe again during the tail end of the ceremony. I felt so bad >.<
A lot of students approached me after the ceremony and even though we could only speak like, two or three sentences together in English, their parents seems pretty impressed. I switched to Japanese for some of it so they could better express themselves which the parents were also quite impressed with. That same evening, we had our Start of the Year party up the street from my apartment; I love it when they pick places that are close to where I live XD It was buffet style this time so I could just pick and choose what I wanted which was nice. I was seated with one half of the free teachers; I always tend to sit with them. They’re a good bunch of people. Not a lot to report on this one except that it’s always the same few people that attempt conversation with me, as if everyone else is afraid to try or deal with my broken and choppy Japanese. I don’t mind too much, but sometimes I notice when people are avoiding me.
I wasn’t expecting this, but we actually ended up doing like, a legit game. Almost something similar to what I would do in my classes. We were divided into three teams; I ended up in team C. Basically, we had to run down the length of the dining hall and play janken (rock scissors paper) with the person at the end; if we won, the next person in our group could go and do the same. However, if you lost, you had to wait for your ENTIRE team to run down and grab you and bring you back; you had to go back and do it again too. Had I known we’d be running that day, I would have worn different shoes. But nooooooo. I felt like being fancy and wore heels. So, I chucked them off and ran barefoot, which my teachers thought was HILARIOUS.
My team ended up winning even though we had a slow start. We got these, fortune coupon things at random and I still to this day have no idea what mine means or says. But it wasn’t terrible? I didn’t go to the second or third party either because I actually had to leave for Nagoya really early in the morning for an event with Liraizo.
There has been some development school wise, but I’m not going to write about it yet because I’m not entirely sure I can? I’ve told some people, but I’ll hold off on posting it here until a little later I think. Expect a couple posts in the future for lives and stuff; I will probably end up doing a separate post for the Final BFN live that I went to over the weekend; mainly because lots of stuff happened and it was insanely emotional. Until then!