Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's been a tough week, but I'm starting to feel like my feet are under me at last. No gain on the play with NTT and the robot cats, so I'm still posting from my iPhone, but I received word that my new car has been inspected and licensed yesterday, and today, I signed paperwork and handed over a large sum in cash (1) to a woman who must've been the world's most nervous insurance agent(2)-- in an industry that makes its bones on worry.

In the classroom, I feel, finally, like I'm starting to get into the swing of things. Certainly, the students who are leaving me happy notes on their "after lesson review sheets" seem to think so.(3) Beginning next week, after a three-day weekend, we finally begin our "official" duties, going around individually, rather than as a team, to each of the area schools.

I'm sad to see the team teaching phase of our experience end. There's no way I've learned as much as I need to from Kenny just yet, and the whole "group training" experience of the past weeks took on a kind of Three Amigos vibe that would certainly not have obtained in the more "typical JET" sink-or-swim experience I was warned to expect when I entered the program. Here goes the real deal then.

(1) Japan being a famously cash-based society, all of the large transactions I have so far concluded, ranging from starting a new phone contract to, in this case, purchasing car insurance, have included the careful handing over, counting, and double-counting of large quantities of cash, drug-deal-with-the-Russian-mob style. It does add a certain frisson of illicit excitement to the whole affair, no matter how routine.

(2) Our agent, as she admitted to the BoE functionary who escorted us to the deal, couldn't speak a word of English and seemed to be positively, actually, terrified of me. Never before in my life have I actually seen someone cringe when I look them in the eye.

A teachable moment of cultural exchange occurred when I provoked giggles from Stephanie and Kenny by telling them later that our rep "looked like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs".

(3) Several classes at my schools ask their pupils to rate their own performance and write a brief reflection on the lesson after every English class. Astonishingly, all except for a few actually fill in the sheets, and often they're kind enough to compliment our performance as ALTs. Except for the girl at Higashi who writes only kaomoji. But she gave my first appearance a
.。.:*・゜゚・* *・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・'(*゚▽゚*)'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*so I get the impression things are going well.

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