To give you an understanding of what teaching, or working for that matter, in a foreign culture is like I want to give you a bit of a walk through of my day. Now granted, today was a special day, which I was alerted to way back in late April to start preparing for, but of course the importance of the day was totally lost to me. With that background information, let's begin:
I get to school about 15-20 minutes early which I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is always great fun because it freaked my teachers out at first since I'm American and expected to do the bare minimum since I'm lazy. So the fact that I would work an extra minute was just completly unfathomable. Anyways, I head to the school gate and greet each student with a 'genki' good morning and the day starts off like most.
The morning goes by pretty normally until I'm told that I'm not eating lunch with the students like I do normally. I'm told to sit down at the teacher's table, and so I eat lunch with the teachers. Or at least for awhile. 10 minutes into lunch, and only halfway through the meal, I am whisked away to the announcement room to be broadcasted throughout the school. Unbeknownst to me, this had been in the works for some time, and thus I give out a cheerful, "Hello my name is Blake!" and thus concludes another enlightening period of English with me and students.
Then at 1:00 PM the head of the English program for Mito city comes for my evaluation. My head english teacher, the vice-principle, her and myself all sit nervously and have very uncomfortable, unnatural conversation for a while in half-English, half-Japanese. Then at 1:30 my evaluation begins...
Apparently I have no clue how important this evaluation is because I thought it was a normal class with a bit of extra preparation and the head of the program watching. All of sudden teachers pour in from all directions, some even repelling off the roof and diving through the window trying to find space on the floor between the 20 adults now watching these thirty very nervous children. Class goes well, as I perform various clown acts of teaching English before thirty students (not a problem to be goofy to them) and twenty or so adults who have no idea that I might have an intellect beyond saying the days of the week. Then I'm whisked back to the principle's office, and eventually to the Eigo Kai.
The most hilarious, and frustrating part of the whole day then comes. I'm like, "Good! I'm finally going to get some real feedback here." Do I? No! Because its all in Japanese. They completly forget that I'm there seemingly and randomly I hear "Bulaku" (Blake) and realize that they are talking about me. A few lines are translated for me, but not enough to really know whats going on. Finally, out of nowhere I'm asked to speak on my impressions of the class and totally caught off my guard I throw in some polite evaluations that were definitely very political in nature since I'm not going to say anything derroagatory in such a group. And then back to full blown Japanese and the meeting is finally over.
Crazy, neh? That's life in Japan.