Saying Farewell

July 27th, 2009 Posted in Daily Living, School Life | No Comments »


It was my last day at Gifu Kita on Tuesday and I had to give a speech to the entire school, staff and students. As I wrote the speech and practiced it in front of my mirror at home, I always found myself falling into tears at the same spots. I knew that, if I couldn’t make it through the speech without crying at home, it would be impossible to avoid the tears when I was in front of more than 1,000 people, many of whom have become close friends.

Saying goodbye to Gifu Kita was more heart-breaking than saying goodbye at all the other jobs that I have left in the past. First of all, being there has been an amazing experience, aside from becoming a Mama, probably the most influential and life-changing. Second, saying goodbye here is so much more permanent. While we hope to return to Japan, the time frame is unknown. So, unlike when we were saying goodbye back home to come here, we aren’t sure when we will be back and it is likely that many of the people, co-workers and students, that we are saying goodbye to, we will never see again. Strange.

So, that’s why the tears flowed. And, why they continue to do so. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one that cried. It’s good to know that I have made as much of an impact on some of my fellow teachers and students as they have on me. It went both ways.

Many of you have asked about my speech, so even though I am a touch embarrassed, I am putting it here. Watch it if you want, try not to be too bothered by the insanely bumpy footage. The teacher who was filming told me that he forgot he was holding the camera a few times. 🙂

Haiku Posting

May 29th, 2009 Posted in Haiku Posting, School Life, Takayama | No Comments »

I have not posted.
Summer heat brings an idea,
Haiku Posting!

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Coming to a Close

February 9th, 2009 Posted in School Life | No Comments »

I only have 8 more days at Gifu Kita High School. Of those 8 days, I will only be teaching for 6 of them. During those 6 teaching days, I only have 14 more lessons. That’s it.

In some ways, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is a blessing. I have been having a rougher time keeping up the pace that I used to and I have been finding myself dragging through more classes than is usual for me. I am looking forward to having my leave, so that I can start prepping and preparing for the next step, the next adventure.

On the other hand, I am quite sad. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Gifu Kita. I have learned and grown so much since the moment I stepped through those front gates a year and a half ago. I am so thankful for the time that I have had here, where I have been able to focus on teaching, developing a new curriculum, and trying my hardest to reach students who have limited English abilities. This job has challenged me in more ways than I ever imagined it would and, as a result, I have gained so much. The skills that I have learned will help me in my future, I’m sure of it.

Each class I teach, from now until February 24th, is the last one. I will only see each group of students one more time over the next 8 days, and at the end of each lesson, I have to say goodbye to them.

So far, I have said goodbye to 4 classes. The first one was heartbreaking, and the next three haven’t gotten any easier. I have had a great year with these kids and have built a remarkable relationship with many of them. It is hard to walk away from that, from them.

I have 14 more classes to say goodbye to, countless teachers to thank, a desk to clean out, and a farewell speech to give. I am not sure how I will get through it all, but I think it is virtually guaranteed that there will be many tears shed. That’s just the way I am.

The Gargle Hack

December 11th, 2008 Posted in Daily Living, Rant, School Life | 1 Comment »

Looking through the archives of this little blog, specifically the archives from our first few months here, I am surprised at how much culture-shocking we did. So many things were strange, we missed home so much, and it was difficult to cope, at times, with even simple nuisances in Japan.

This year, I feel that we are so much better adjusted to where we are and what we are doing. We have learned so much language and how to navigate our way through the many cultural differences that we experience. It is rare, now, that either of us have complete and total meltdown, I-hate-Japan days. Which is good, I think.

That is why it surprises me so much when I happen upon something that totally, completely bugs me about Japan. Something that I don’t think I could ever get used to or accept, no matter how long I lived or worked in this country.

And that thing is a little phenomenon that I call the Gargle Hack.

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A Classroom Anecdote

November 17th, 2008 Posted in School Life | No Comments »

This week I am finishing up a 5-week long project with my first year students. Their assignment for the past month has been to form groups, create a skit, practice and prepare that skit for performance, and now finally, they must perform in front of the class.

As a whole I have been quite impressed by the three classes I have seen so far. They, for the most part, have taken the assignment quite seriously and done their best not only to meet the requirements of the project, but also do so in a creative and entertaining fashion.

Obviously some groups are more entertaining than others.

I think the funniest group so far was a group of boys that I saw on Friday. I’m not sure why, but they decided that their skit would be about four girls. Honestly I don’t even remember the storyline at the moment because I was so busy laughing while they were performing.

In order to accurately act as girls, all four boys bought a bottle of helium (looks like a can of aerosol hairspray) from the hobby shop. Before they would say their lines they would take a quick gulp of the helium from the can to raise their voices to a higher, more girly pitch.

Needless to say, their antics had the whole class rolling with laughter. It was a good time, and I definitely appreciated their efforts. If only I could remember the plot of their skit . . .

Annual Health Check

August 18th, 2008 Posted in Daily Living, School Life | 2 Comments »

As Aaron mentioned in a post about a week ago, each person in Japan is subject to an annual health check. Since he just posted about it, and I just got the results from my check, I thought now would be a good time to show you what it was all about (before we start posting about our vacation).

Well, first of all, the health check is much like he described. I opted for the cheaper, and more convenient, check performed at my school. A van (with an x-ray machine, exam rooms and other equipment) pulled up in front of the school at about noon. The employees got out and proceeded to set-up other stations inside a large classroom (scale, height station, hearing/eyesight, etc). I, along with many of my co-workers and employees from other area schools, showed up at 1:00pm and formed a single file line.

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July 25th, 2008 Posted in Food, School Life | 2 Comments »


A few weeks ago the Future Homemakers of Japan (FHJ) club hosted an event where they were teaching how to make a french pastry. It only cost 50 yen to participate, so I jumped right in.

I didn’t know what the French pastry was, they just kept calling it a Madorenu. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the English translation. Even though I didn’t know what it was called, I showed up on the day of the event ready to get cooking.

As soon as I entered the room I realized I was ill-prepared. All of the girls and boys had aprons on, and most of the girls had these little handkerchiefs on their heads.

Working Together

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Can I Change His Mind?

June 18th, 2008 Posted in School Life, Teaching | No Comments »

Least Favorite

In all of my classes students have namecards. On the outside of the card is their name in BIG letters. These cards help me to get to know my students. During class I am able to call on them by name and I am even starting to learn some of their names by heart (with over 700 students this is definitely a bit rough).

The real magic in the namecards though, is on the inside. On the inside of each card is a space where students and I have a written dialogue with one another. They are free to ask me questions, make comments about class, or write anything they wish. I, in turn, answer their questions or ask questions of my own.

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Volleyball Day

June 5th, 2008 Posted in School Life | No Comments »

Aaron just mentioned his school’s volleyball day, so I thought I would post some photos from the same event at my school. Same idea, just a bit different. My students really went all out with the costumes, I loved their creativity!

The Presidents

This team was the American President’s, on the back of their shirts were American flags with different numbers of stars according to their number on the team.


Elmo was a big hit! The front of this teams shirts said “Smile” in big letters, so each of them put something on the back of their uniform that they thought would make someone else smile. I guess it worked.

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Volleyball Taiikusai

June 4th, 2008 Posted in School Life | No Comments »

Volleyball Day

Both Danielle and I just recently had all school volleyball tournaments. It really is quite a great time. I played with the teachers team, which ended up doing pretty well, despite the fact that my only real skill is the block. \(^o^)/

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