Well, it’s been a busy week here in Funehiki! This past week was our first full week of work. Fortunately, I was still able to observe classes instead of actually teaching them, but this week my coworker and I will be doing the teaching, and the senior teachers will be observing us! It’s a little scary but it will be good to start getting used to having our own classes. Some classes are a little more rambunctious than others, which makes me nervous, but I guess the more difficult the class, the better chance I have to practice my classroom management skills. 🙂
This weekend has been busy as well, because we’ve had several events that we’ve had to attend in order to be introduced to new people. First of all, on Saturday afternoon we all went over to the kindergarten (which is right behind our apartments, and run by our boss) to meet the kindergarten teachers. Introductions here are very formal by American standards. We American teachers all stood side by side on one end of the room (a small gym), and the Japanese teachers lined up on the opposite side. Each Japanese teacher was handed a paper with a photo and bio of each of us new teachers. Then there were introductions all around – we American teachers each gave our memorized self-introduction speech (yes, in Japanese!) – and then each Japanese teacher said his/her name and the age group he or she worked with, followed by Yoroshiku onegai shimasu (“Nice to meet you,” or more literally, “Please treat me kindly”). Of course, a lot of bowing was also involved, as each person introducing themselves bowed afterward, and we bowed in return. We new teachers were also each presented with a bouquet of flowers and gift certificates to a local grocery store!
On Saturday night, one of the senior teachers held a meet-and-greet party, so that we new teachers would have the chance to meet some of the Japanese people that the team has befriended over the years. Although I’m not much of a party person, it turned out to be enjoyable. There were lots of great snacks, and I got involved in several interesting conversations with different Japanese people.
Today, still more introductions! This (Sunday) morning, we visited the local church for the first time, of which our boss is the pastor. It is very small, as Japanese churches tend to be – maybe a dozen or fewer people in attendance (not counting us Americans). The sermon was mostly in Japanese, but I still found it interesting to attend. Afterwards, there was a wonderful “welcome lunch” in honor of us teachers. Each person got a tray of sushi, an orange, and a beautiful slice of cake, and various homemade and store bought snacks were handed out. And, of course, each of us also gave our introduction speeches again, and the church members introduced themselves as well.
So that’s the story of my weekend of socialization. In reality, I enjoyed it all, and I feel incredibly honored and grateful to be here. Everyone here – our employers, the church members, and our coworkers – are all so generous. Even though I know working here will have its hardships, this weekend I experienced some of the great things about being here, so I’m really thankful for that!