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Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Promisory Note

It was May 15, 1992 - a Friday - and I was sitting at Wakakusa Chu Gakko, one of the seven junior high schools I help teach English at in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

I like this school a lot. Forget about the fact that the kids in the area are a bit more affluent than the others, they are also quite nice and I enjoy interacting with them, and they with me.

However... early in the morning, one of the English teachers came up to me while I sat around having a cup of o-cha (green tea) - possibly my sixth because I had only been at work for about an hour - and told me that he was cancelling one of my English classes saying we couldn't teach today because he 'promised the students a test'.

I may not be a genius - no wait, I am with my 149 IQ (so why am I poor? Oh yes... I'm a classic lazy bastard under-achiever) - but just because you promised the students a test doesn't mean you have to give them the test. Use the foreign guy!

I come around to each school for a 4-day period once every seven weeks or so... and I don't see every class during these visits... surely you can make an exception and break your promise?

After all, a test is not something they really want... they want to have fun with their foreigner friend An-do-ryu (that's me!), whose name translates into Peaceful-Leader-Dragon.. I picked my own Kanji (Chinese-style alphabet) for use on my own fancy hanko (signature stamp). Officially, of course, I use the katakana alphabet and the hanko I was given when I arrived here.

That photo up above are three of my hanko... which I still have, of course.

I think my bosses at the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) admire my tenacity of having my own hanko made with my own signature. I do too. It makes me feel like a real person.

But dammit... whenever I have a class cancelled it just kills me... like teachers do not know how to utilize me. I have no idea either, of course, but I just want to feel needed.

Nahhhhh!!! I enjoy the extra period off. It gives me more time to talk to the other teachers who have a period off. To me, talking with other teachers I might not normally talk to at a school is a lot more fun and a lot more challenging, as not everyone can speak English... but at least they try... and I try to speak Japanese to them.

We teach each other and learn more about each other and ourselves.

Andrew Joseph         

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