UHSSS! (karate Cry)


Are you ready for a message from a self-indulgent Steph?

At one of my smaller schools, the entire fifth grade compromises of 10 kids. Last year, we received some letters from British students via the lovely Kay Palmer, but because my Japanese level was so low and I had little confidence in my ability to organise a class of kids to write a reply, I didn’t manage to get anything back to them. Today though, we finally wrote our letters. They wrote their responses in English; I brought stickers of Japanese things to decorate them with; we took photos of ourselves, and posed altogether for some silly ones. They helped me explain my own lesson when I forgot some Japanese 😉
I first taught this grade when they were third years, when they were incredibly shy with me, and when they hated English. Today was like spending the day with pals. They’ve grown up. They’ve grown confident with their English, and confident with me as a foreigner. They voluntarily found English words in the dictionary to communicate their true interests and feelings. They made their letters beautiful without me having to ask.

I didn’t know what I hoped to achieve, before coming to Japan. I didn’t know what I could ever amount to, as a teacher of elementary kids and with so little Japanese. In fact, I didn’t consider the job aspect of moving here nearly as much as I should have done. I often look at myself, and only see the growth I haven’t yet managed: I still put politeness before honesty, even when I really want to be truthful. I still don’t think before speaking at times when I know I should. I’m still incredibly self-centered, and paranoid about being thought of as self-centered. But I looked at my class of small adults today, laughing as they wrote their names perfectly from memory in a foreign alphabet at the age of 10 – their casual “thank you!”s and “let’s go”s and “I’m sorry!”s, as if they were relishing being able to pull random English phrases out of their mouths at will. I may only see each of my classes once a month, but after two years, we’ve made some bonds. I think I can say as of today, that I haven’t done too badly here. I think I’ve grown, too. The unknown is a lot less scary, now. I feel that I’m a bit more of my own boss. By being myself, these kids have come to like and understand English (or so they say 😉 .)  We have only one lesson left together before I leave for the UK – as I do with most of my students from now on. Today was a special lesson just for this class – a lesson which took a bit more effort and planning than usual – and I loved that they loved it.

I’m going to really, really miss this job. I’m going to really, really miss my kids. (I’ll even miss some team teachers, woah!) I hope they grow up to be as lovely as they’ve already managed to become over the past two years. This has been the best thing I’ve ever done. I have loved and hated a lot of things over my time here, but it’s all been part of something wonderful. So thanks, kids: I never thought I’d come away with fonder memories of the people than the poetry, but it’s thanks to you that those two seemingly separate spheres of past and present, poetry and society, eventually came to be on par with one another.

5 weeks left. Coming to terms with it. Time to make the most of them! YOSH!


One Response to “UHSSS! (karate Cry)”

  1. Dad Says:

    good! 🙂

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