Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cold and snowy outside, warm fuzzies inside

It's been a good couple of days here in the frozen inaka (middle of nowhere) of Hokkaido. Going in reverse chronological order; a delivery guy just came to my door with one ticket to Hawaii, there was a present from my friend in the mail slot when I got home, my boss said the office would pay for the upcoming HAJET winter meeting (Furano ski slopes, here I come!), I had a great day teaching in Sounkyo, got all of my teaching materials finished in time, and got about a billion offers of places to crash the night I get back (the best one included pick-up servcice at the airport!)

But really, nothing brightens your day like a ticket to Hawaii. Sorry for gloating, but book yourself a trip to the islands and see if you don't feel like sharing your excitement!

Teaching was really fun today -- I've probably said it before, but I think Sounkyo is my favorite school to teach at. They only see me once a month, so every time I come there it's exciting for the kids. And because I don't see them often, I want to make sure we have a fun time together. Besides that, the staff are wonderful and there is a really strong family feeling there. I'm grateful to have been welcomed like one of the gang. It will be even more fun when this small school with a current student body of nine gets six new Grade 1's! That means next year the school will be almost half ichi-nen sei's!

Olympic fever has set in here in Hokkaido, particularly in my town. It's the hometown of Harada -- the ski jumper. This will be his fifth olympics if you can believe it! Every store in town has posters to show their support (I have one up in my house that my shodo teacher brought over), and a few days ago, a delegation went to cheer him on in person. In that spirit, I have been teaching Olympic winter sports. Fun for the kids, and easy too as most of the names are similar in Japanese. We had a fun class playing "What sports do you like?" charades. I was sure to include the bobsled and luge events, because they are so funny to watch kids do charades with. uMaybe I'll try the same lesson with my impossible grade 5's...

After lunch, dodgeball and some tag, I went and watched the Grade 3/4 class (three students) practice calligraphy with the principal. It was really fun to see them going just as slowly as I do at my lessons. When the teacher made corrections, they were all in bright orange ink, which the students were not pleased with. I really just liked seeing that I wasn't the only one who struggles with writing Japanese calligraphy! I was thinking I should get some elementary school level workbooks to move my kanji studies along. I have a few already, and the most difficult part for me is not knowing the vocabulary that little kids know. I'm okay with animals now, and since teaching body parts at the kindergarten, I know all those too. Little by little...

Now, if only it would stop snowing! Today it was blowing and snowing all day long, which made the trek from the bus station to the school at the top of the mountain a lot of "fun". It's supposed to snow all day tomorrow as well. I don't want to have to dig my car out when I come home!

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