Gomen ne! Sorry I havenít written in ages! Life has been a bit stressful here in Japan as Iím trying to get ready to leave Japan, go home, plan Switzerland, etc. School has a been a little stressful as well for various reasons. I canít believe my time here is nearly to an end! Weíve finished up oral exams with the fist years, and the final projects with the third years are finished, too. Iím happy with how both went, and am especially happy with a few third year students who did not do very well on their mid-term project, but learned from their mistakes and my suggestions and really came up with some good products. We had our farewell party Friday (July 14th), which Naito sensei did a lot for, so that made me feel loved. The students didnít want to talk too much about school or projects or what they wanted to do when Julie comes. They say they want to talk, but then why do I have a heck of a time getting them to talk? Maybe Julie can find the solution.

Oral exams with first years also had some great ones. One pair did a funny news report of Japan in an ice age. Theyíd practiced and timed it so it was very funny and everyone understood and laughed. It was great to see creative energy combined with a higher English ability. In general, my lower students make the most entertaining dialogues!

Of course the biggest news of this period was the birth of my new precious nephew, Noah Hezekiah Daley on June 28th. I canít wait to meet him!

During exam week (when there are no classes) I took time off (since I did all the oral exams the week before) so I was able to travel to Kyoto with APA and SB. It was a lovely time, but Iíll have to write about it separately or I wonít have time to finish this update.

July 1st after Hippo we all went to Bikiís house and had dinner together. It was so much fun to hang around families and play with children. There was a combination of Japanese and English used, but far more Japanese than Iím usually exposed to. When a family from India joined us English became the dominant language. I was a little shocked at how the Japanese children were not willing to make the Indian children feel welcome, but I suppose their just not used to interacting with anyone so apparently different. Earlier the children had invented a game of counting while jumping on the little trampoline (so everyone could have a chance) and I modified it by counting in different languages (after all, weíre all in the Hippo language club!). Thus to help the new kids fit in I asked them to teach me how to count in Hindi. It was interesting! It was pointed out to me how similar it is to German, and then from that to English. I never would have realized the connection myself because itís still so different. Iíd write it out for you but I learned it aurally and I have no idea how theyíre actually spelled.

I had intended to leave the party early to go to church but I was having such a culturally rich experience I couldnít tear myself away. This is the kind of thing I was hoping for when I came to Japan! At one point the mother of a 12 year old girl came up to me and said (in Japanese in front of her daughter) that her daughter really likes me but is too shy to say anything. Of course I took her under my wing and we managed to enjoy the time with my limited Japanese. She taught me Japanese hand games and I taught her how to waltz. The whistle also came out at some point. Bah, the college social scene has nothing compared with dynamic families!

On the Sunday afternoon before going to Kyoto I went to see Kasiaís cello/piano concert in Nirasaki. She did a wonderful job of drawing the audience in and explaining what sheís about. I enjoyed it very much and of course it made me miss all the concerts at Eastman.

After Kyoto the rest of the week off was spent running errands (like getting official papers for leaving Japan and other such boring stuff). Iím finding the choices for Switzerland a bit overwhelming, and Iíve finally getting a taste of my own medicine as people wonít return my emails. I have nothing to complain about since I still have 400 in my inbox, but really, shouldnít other people be organized even if Iím not? ;)

Friday, July 7th, the day of the Tanabata Festival (star festival) we had our end of the term school enkai. At the last minute I was asked to give a farewell speech, and though I could think of all kinds of Japanese before I went up to talk it all left my mind when I got up there. Joy! It was sad to think of it as my last enkai, but Iím still so excited about seeing family and my nephews itís hard to be all sad!

Saturday, July 8th was the Yamanashi JET Sayonara party in Kiyosato. On the one hand it was typical college-age fun (i.e. not fun) but on the other I had a good time with people. Leslie and I got a cabin for the night all to ourselves due to some miscalculation Iím assuming. It was lovely to wake up in my bunk to the birds and the cool air and look out the window at the mist in the trees. After cleaning up Kasia picked me up (she lives very near the KEEP place we had the party) and she made me breakfast at her apartment and we hung out. It was nice! When I got home I went right to work since Iím beginning to panic that I canít get everything done and I wonít know it until itís too late!

This past week as been like that as Iíve pushed myself to do work before school then after with hardly time to breath. I also had some outing scheduled every day of the week. Bible study on Monday was lovely since itíd been three weeks since Iíd seen church folks, on Tuesday I went to Kabuki with Miwako (more on that later), on Wednesday I had dinner at Maman Pumpkinís with Adam and Courtnay and we had lovely conversation, Thursday was supposed to be my goodbye dinner with the English department but it got postponed since so many people couldnít make it, on Friday I had dinner with Miwako and Courtnay since Iím missing Courtnayís goodbye party at church on Saturday. So itís all good stuff and Iíve been working like a dog inbetween it all and a lot has been accomplished, but itís draining and Thursday I finally snapped and just bummed about the internet looking at articles. This weekend Iím retreating to the Nagano home of a Hippo club family, so I hope to get refreshed there!

Friday (July 14th) was also the ICC (English club) goodbye party, which was funny since we hadnít met in nearly two months! I was surprised about 16 people showed up since numbers have been steadily decreasing. They were very sweet, though, and decorated cakes for me, signed a card, and each person said a little something to me in English thanking me for the time. It was very sweet, and I appreciated it. Unfortunately, some things have been happening that have left me emotionally drained and numb and I donít think I properly expressed how much they mean to me.

In my goodbye lessons as well I feel like Iím just saying words. A few sweet students have really expressed sadness in my goodbye lessons and Iíve been most shocked of all that two people have already emailed me because I passed out contact cards. That does make me feel loved even though their genki students and would probably have done it for any teacher.

Next Monday is a national holiday so I have a four day week next week and then I say goodbye to Shirane forever! I will miss some people terribly, especially Naito sensei and Fujiwara sensei (music teacher). However, every cloud has a silver lining and the recent stresses at work make me less sad to be leaving. A few months ago I couldnít bear the thought of leaving, so itís a blessing in disguise, I guess.

Thatís it for now. Iím heading out to Nagano soon. Hurray! Itís cooler there. Yesterday it hit 37 (98.6) in Kofu. It was HOT! Florida AC here we come!

Posted by harp on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 2:10 am | Edit
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You went to KEEP!!! Did you have a milk soft cream for me? My mouth is watering....

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 5:03 am
According to today's news (July 15), Kofu was even hotter the 14th: 37.7 (99.9). That's hot even for Florida! I certainly hope it hasn't been as humid as Florida is. Somehow I don't think this makes up for the icicles in your apartment last winter.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 12:12 pm
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