From Friday February 8th to Friday February 15th, eight students and two teachers from Wisconsin were in Tomiura. Tomiura JHS has a sister school in Wisconsin, and every year the schools have an exchange program. Last year, Tomiura students went to Wisconsin, so this year, some Wisconsin students came to Japan. All of the Wisconsin visitors did homestay with a Japanese family—the students with a Tomiura student, and the adults with a Tomiura staff member.
It was a long week. So many things happened and I traveled to so many places for work… By the end of the week, I was exhausted. I worked for twelve days straight, since I had to work on the weekend as well, and some of those days were over 10 hours!
I’ll be honest, I had a lot of trouble writing this entry, which is why it’s so late. For this entry, I wrote a few drabbles. Enjoy!
The JTE that organized the exchange program was very stressed out in the weeks leading up to the Wisconsinites’ arrival. The female Wisconsin teacher and I e-mailed back and forth. She said that the organizers always fret about the exchange, but everything always turns out fine. Even if it doesn’t go exactly according to plan, the students have fun and they will never forget the experience. I decided to trust her experience. Whatever bumps we encountered, we could deal with.
During the week, there were very few bumps. It was a lot of fun! I had some great experiences. Like…
Even though it was technically a three-day weekend, I “worked” and accompanied the Wisconsin teachers on their sightseeing trip. On Saturday, everyone spent time on their own with their host families. My JTE, the two Wisconsin teachers, Kyoto-sensei, Kocho-sensei, Saito-sensei, and I went to a farmer’s market in Katsuura. We found some pretty interesting things.
As we walked, the Wisconsinites were forced to eat free samples of some nasty fish. The woman who offered us the fish said that if the male teacher didn’t like it, he didn’t have to finish it. She just wanted to see the foreigner squirm.
Sunday—Kamogawa Sea World and Strawberry Picking
On Sunday, we went to Kamogawa Sea World. It was a great day—the weather was nice, which was good, because when we saw the whale show, we sat in front.
Kyoto-sensei and I got soaked. It was awesome. Later, the male Wisconsin teacher noticed that you could buy whale meat, and he said, “I guess it’s revenge for getting you wet.”
And then I adopted Humphrey!
At noon, we left Sea World and went strawberry picking in Tomiura.
It was awesome! We just got to walk around for an hour, picking strawberries, dipping them in condensed milk, and eating them.
On Monday, we went to Tokyo. We wandered around a temple in Asakusa, and I had to be the tour guide for the Wisconsin adults. I helped the male teacher pick out an anime gift for a friend, and even though I was surprised with the hosting job, I think it went all right.
We took a ride on a water bus, and then somehow I made it all the way up Tokyo Tower before remembering that I’m terribly afraid of heights.
So this is the only picture I took, because I was too terrified to go near the windows.
A Week at School
From Tuesday to Thursday, we had some special classes for the Wisconsin students. They made paper cranes and fancy sushi rolls, wrote calligraphy, and arranged flowers.
On Wednesday, the boys went to PE class and the girls went to math class. The math teacher was nervous, so I went to his class. He had an interesting lesson about the Four Color Theorem.
One of the girls complained about having to be in math class. This girl had been getting on my nerves—all of the Wisconsin students were delightful, but this girl was rather rude. Finally, I snapped at her.
Me: “Would you rather sit in the conference room by yourself?”
Girl: “Yes, actually.”
Me: “I can arrange that. Should I go get your teacher and tell her that you’d rather do that?”
That’s what I thought.
The Cha-Cha Slide
On Thursday, the Wisconsin students gave a presentation about their school and themselves. They included a dance that I’d never heard of—the Cha Cha Slide. They were all surprised that I had never heard of it, because it was super popular at school dances.
I looked it up later and realized why I’d never heard of it—I was both too young and too old. It came out in 2004. I was in high school, so I didn’t go to school dances. And as for the teachers who knew it, well, they were teachers at schools where it would be played.