Continued from here.
The Students’ Interactions
On Friday, February 8th, eight Tomiura students, Kocho-sensei, the JTE, and I climbed onto a bus to Narita airport. When we arrived at the airport, we had a lot of time to spare (we got there really early), so while we were waiting, everyone obsessively checked the screen to see if the plane had arrived yet. When it actually did land, everyone jumped up and rushed to the exit point, even though it would probably take the visitors another hour or so to go through customs. The students had made signs with the Wisconsin students’ names on them, and they were clutching them nervously
When the Wisconsinites arrived, they looked dead tired, so it was probably okay that my students didn’t overload them with broken English right away. As nervous as my students were, I could also sense their excitement—I could practically hear them buzzing.
At first, I was a little nervous for my students. I had to prompt some of them to do their self-introductions. I was worried about one student in particular, so I walked up to him.
Me: “Eiji, jikoshoukai!” (“Self-introduction!”)
Eiji: “Eeto…” (“Umm…”)
Me: “My name is…”
Eiji: “My name… is… Eiji…”
He mumbled the whole thing. He looked incredibly nervous, and then he mumbled something under his breath.
Eiji: “…Eigo, muzukashii…” (“English is difficult…”)
I told him not to worry and that it was okay. I explained to his homestay student, but the kid seemed too tired to care.
The other students seemed to be doing well. They all had dictionaries and listened patiently while the English speakers rattled off colloquialisms to them that I knew they wouldn’t understand. One of the Wisconsin students talked up a storm at Naoto, and Naoto was totally awesome about it. I’m sure he didn’t understand everything, but I was pleased by how much he responded. (He was sitting right behind me, so I heard everything they said.)
When we got back to Tomiura, I was still nervous about Eiji, so I walked over to where he stood with his homestay student and his mother. I greeted his mother and asked Eiji if he was okay. He nodded yes, and then I saw his mother begin to speak to the homestay student—in English. The homestay student looked relieved, so I knew they would all be okay.
I didn’t know at the time, but apparently Eiji’s family has had a homestay student in a previous year—so they were fully prepared for it.
And then they all went home. I was super nervous and excited for them. |D It was weird how motherly I was feeling. Jeez…
By Monday, the kids were doing great. I didn’t have to worry anymore—at first, I kind of hovered about, making sure they knew I was there if they had any questions. They managed on their own, though. I was very happy.
Young Love and Friendship
One of the Wisconsin girls hosted a Tomiura student last time, and apparently one of the boys that went to America totally fell in love with her. She was totally not into him—it was really sad. He was a high schooler already, but he tagged along to Tokyo with us and hovered around her. I felt sorry for both of them. She was really embarrassed, and he was just a lovesick puppy.
I ran into him at Aeon one day, and he actually walked up to me to ask when the Farewell Party was, so he could come (and see her, was the implication). Oh man…
A few other young love stories blossomed, too. After lunch one day, one of the other girls walked up to me.
Girl: “Megaaaaaan… I made a mistake.”
Me: “Uh-oh. What did you do?”
Girl: “Well, see, this guy apparently told me that he likes me, but I didn’t really understand, so I sort of might have accidentally told him that I like him, too.”
Me: “…How do you accidentally tell someone you like them?”
I asked her who it was. She didn’t know his name, but the way she described him… I had an idea of who it was. I told her to point the kid out to me next time.
It was exactly who I thought it was.
Me: “That guy? …You’re screwed.”
It was this second year that is really loud. I think he’s funny, but he’s also really disruptive. I was actually playing with him a bit during the origami class, and my JTE pulled me aside to scold me. She said not to rile him up, because he has to be quiet. :X Sorry. We were just having fun, talking in really lame English… Heh.
The second love story happened on Thursday, which was Valentine’s Day. I was with the Wisconsin kids in the conference room when suddenly a group of third year girls came in. One of them ran up to a Wisconsin boy, shoved a Valentine at him, and shouted, “I’M CRAZY FOR YOU!!”
And she fled.
He looked so confused. It was brilliant.
A friendship also blossomed. I stopped by a homeroom period on Thursday, and Kawana-sensei was asking one of the Wisconsin boys some questions in English.
Kawana-sensei: “What surprised you the most in Japan?”
The boy didn’t know how to answer, but one of the students was being really loud, so he pointed at him.
Boy: “This guy.”
The Tomiura student raised his hands triumphantly. He had won the day.
What’s for dinner?
The entire week was pretty much eating nonstop. At the last enkai I went to, I had to stop eating at one point or I was going to get sick. And they kept ordering food.
Kawana-sensei: “Japanese think that Americans are big eaters. I’m surprised.”
Me: “Me too. I thought I was a big eater.”
Japanese people have us beat. I don’t know how they do it. Where the hell do they put it all!?
This entire week was no different. They really overfed the Wisconsin adults, who told me pretty much everyday that they felt guilty for not being able to eat everything at breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. I felt sorry for them, but there was really no way to make the Japanese people stop feeding them. Even when we explicitly said that we were full, they kept ordering more food.
The woman teacher said that the first time she came to Japan, she lost weight during the trip. But every time after that, she gained weight.
…I think they were trying to fatten them up.
Having Normal English Conversations… is Such a Relief
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was super happy to be able to speak English all day. And not like, the weird broken, slow English that I use with the students. Like, real, fast-paced, slang-filled English. Komatsu-sensei mentioned how lively I was, and she attributed it to the fact that I was about to speak English so much.
Near the end of the week, the Wisconsin teachers were saying, “Bet you’ll be glad when we’re gone and you can relax, huh?”
But the truth is, I was going to miss being able to speak natural English… And as much work and as exhausting as that week was, it was really fun. The visitors were all really great people, and I’m glad I got to meet them.