Monday, October 21, 2013

Volunteering and the Long Weekend

So. I had this list, in my head, of what all I wanted to put into this post. Unfortunately, I can't remember a single one of those things right now. So instead, I'm going to talk about the festivals and stuff that happened in my area this weekend a little bit.

First off, this weekend is a 5 day weekend. Well, in theory, I only get a 4 day weekend. Two days prior to the weekend for planning and setting up the JWU Mejiro-Sai festival, two days for the festival and one for, take down? Recuperation? I'm not really sure, but there is no school tomorrow.

Since none of my clubs did anything related to the festival I just got a really long weekend for basically no reason.

So here's how I spent my weekend. (Actually, I'm starting from the day before the long weekend started.) Got ready to go to my gaming group, find out that due to the typhoon (Almost used the Japanese spelling taifuu) that hit Tuesday night through Wednesday morning game was cancelled. While that was the least exciting news of the week, I did manage to get a leg up on my JET program application. By which I mean I applied for some of the necessary documents and I've asked a couple of teachers to write me letters of recommendation. Thank you in advance Alisa, O'Brien 先生 and Tanabe 先生! Also ordered proof of enrollment, proof study abroad and transcripts (from all three of my past universities since UO doesn't include transfer work on it's official document apparently).

While in theory, game being cancelled should have meant that I got a decent amount of sleep, I ended up with only an hour or two extra sleep and was very nearly late to the school despite the fact that it's less than a 10 minute walk. My least favorite part of volunteering is sitting in on science and math classes. It's no big secret that I have very little interest subjects, especially when I can't understand what they are doing or why because the kanji and vocab is ten times more complicated than anything I've studied up until this point. I also don't get to help any in these classes. It's purely standing in the back of the class (or wandering around in science) and observing. Makes not falling asleep first thing in the morning a little bit hard.

One of the science teachers, who is also the Ikebana teacher, rescued me from my misery and took me on a tour of the school garden and animal cages. It was really fun, especially because I love plants. I just wish I'd known more of the plants in this garden (which reminded me a lot of Oregon except I knew almost none of the plants). The only down side is that my legs were eaten by mosquitoes since I was in a skirt. Bugs 500 billion. Illaura 2.

The dastardly creatures.
The second grade English class on the other hand is amazingly fun and adorable. They split the second graders into two groups and these two groups alternate every week for English class. I don't get to teach, but I can walk around and talk with some of the students (their English is amazing!!) and I get to sing songs with them so it's fun.

Lunch, while generally good, is a little bit on the small side. Therefore I have to bring a Calorie Mate or the such to sneak in before the after lunch courses.

Since there was no Home Ec class this last week, of which I'm a temporarily permanent fixture, I sat in on a 2nd grade computer class where they were learning to, get this, do basic computer animation. I know, right!?! Obviously they didn't do a lot all at once and it was one step at a time with the teacher's observation, but it was awesome.

I'm talking a machine like this one. Only older and more dangerous looking.
I also sat in on a 6th grade wood working class. I sat in on this class my first week and the girls were all designing boxes, or things generally box shaped, that they wanted to make. This week they were putting a few finishing touches on these designs and using the saws in the back to cut the wood pieces out. The sharp dangerous kind that no one lets kids near. I was super surprised and slightly alarmed that they were allowed to used them at all, let alone that the students were using these machines with no adult supervision.

When I asked the teacher about it, she said that this class is not a normal class. I.E. normal schools don't have this kind of course. But at this school the students are allowed to use the machines on their own from the time they are second graders on. Yes. Second graders. I don't know about you, but I don't think most people let their second graders use the stoves, let alone one of these. They also said that this is an elective course and you must have some kind of interest or skill to take the class. Still didn't make me feel any better about the kids using these without direct supervision.

One of my works. I love volleyball.
Anyways, I also wandered around some more of the clubs. I'm thinking that I want to help with volleyball and coaching since they want me to choose a club to help out with. I want to find out about this art club next week, but otherwise I think I've made my choice.

Also, one thing I noticed this week especially, maybe it's just because I was tired, is that a lot of the students see me coming and laugh and start talking about me/making fun of me, not realizing, I don't think, that I can generally understand them. Other students see me coming near their desk, group, etc. and will stare at me and completely stop talking or working (usually covering their work) until I walk away. Others refuse to accept help from me, even in the Home Ec class, despite the fact that they've
seen me help everyone else and that the teacher has told them I am just as capable as her. They tell me I can't help them and only 先生 can. It can be really frustrating. I know that the first two things are normal in just about any school, especially as a volunteer/assistant joining part way through the year, but the third one really gets to me. I'm trying to help and they refuse to let me help, or I'm just trying to observe and they make it impossible and/or make fun of me for it. It really is disheartening, but that doesn't deter me from wanting to be a teacher. It's just another aspect I hadn't seen yet.

Anyways, so that was most of Thursday. Then I ran to the archery shop where, it turned out that I couldn't just return the limbs, I had to buy new ones since there was some kind of contract I signed that didn't get explained to me. Anyways, so yeah. Anger, frustration, money that I wasn't planning on spending spent. Went back to pick it up yesterday and they ordered limbs for a 32 pound draw weight instead of 26 pound. More frustration, negotiating and now I have to go back, yet again, to pick them up.

So as I was coming home on Thursday, I heard noise over my headphones and after a brief internal debate (*But I'm tired. -Just go. *I don't waaaannnaaaa.... -Do IT.) I went over and checked it out. It was really sweet.

Turns out there was a parade passing by the school one street over. I watched and then followed it, ran into Briana and Chelsea and then Briana and I continued to follow the parade to a nearby temple.

While watching the parade one of the big flowers fell off of one of the really cool things which were actually depicting scenes of the life of this monk who founded the temple the parade ended at. Supposedly, when he died and did the whole buddhist monk Ascension thing sometime in October
cherry blossoms bloomed. This whole festival/parade is in his memory and the flowers represent cherry blossoms in order to honor his memory. Anyways, where I was going with this, this cool little ojiisan picked up the flower that fell off and gave it to me. So now I have a REALLY cool flower.

This festival loves food I do have to say. Like, for the size of it, there was a disproportionately large number of food booths. I also have to say, I love matsuri food.

Hiroshima Yaki and Tapioca Soda. :)
This same festival had a parade the next night, coming from the opposite direction which was even bigger. I'll include some more pictures at the end.

Saturday, I went nowhere. I did nothing. Okay. That last bit is a lie. I played GW2 with my cousin and her husband. Unfortunately lag is causing me to miss out on the clock tower event this year. Curse you bad internet connection!!! Also, found a new web comic that I'm in love with. Richard is the best character. The comic's name is Looking For Group. All I'm going to tell you is, "FOR PONY!"

Then today I woke up and went to see Chelsea's tea ceremony performance/debut. She was amazingly adorable and did a really good job despite her long list of what she did wrong. I was really nervous during it because they gave us one of the seats where you had to be the first person to do things and, since I didn't know what to do, I'm sure I botched a lot of it.

We (Briana and I) also checked out the rest of the JWU festival. It was cute. I saw a bear. There was some amazing Ikebana. Again, more pictures at the end.

Told you I saw a bear.

So yeah. That's been my weekend. Sorry this post turned out to be more about volunteering than the festivals!! More pictures coming momentarily.


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