Saturday, February 03, 2007

Our students rock...

...and that's what's going to make leaving so damn difficult.

Already, I've had to start saying my goodbyes. A schedule change over the next few weeks and the 3 days of vacation I'll be taking, means that I won't be seeing some students again. In fact, this was my last Saturday teaching a full 7 lessons, only 6 and 5 for my last two Saturdays... woohoo!

It's difficult sometimes to think of the friendships that are being lost. I know that in reality, most of these people and I will never cross paths again, no matter how much we promise to "keep in touch". In many ways, goodbyes are a way of life for the foreign teacher doing his\her thing out here. In fact, before even coming to Japan, we have to say goodbye to our family and friends and all the things we leave behind. Most of us are only here for a while before returning to the real world and the things we left behind. Had I not met Yoshiko, I would have been just another one of those 12-monthers who blow through Japan for one reason or another on their way to something else.

Luckily, I did meet Yoshiko, and beyond that amazing relationship, I've also been able to forge some deep friendships which I know will withstand time. Scott, Matt and Alex have all been a huge part of my life here, and we already have plans to meet again back in the US or Canada. Some of our students will also surely take the opportunity to visit Matt and my part of the continent some time, and (for some) I'd be willing to make the trip down to New York or Chicago just to have dinner and catch up a little.

The reason I'm on this whole "goodbye" subject is of course the ongoing countdown to my departure (9 working days remaining) as well as the fact that we had a bit of a "goodbye" get together last night. Some students took me and their second favorite teacher (:-p) out for a coffee at Chat Noir. Emiko of course had to make me say something in front of everyone, even though this wasn't really a goodbye. I was taken aback at the emotions which welled up inside me, so I kept my comments short. Emiko took a shot of the group enjoying some coffee, tea, cake, pizza toast, egg sandwich and toasted mochi with red beans.

I also got a surprise visit from Kyoko, a student who left us last year to focus on her University entrance exams. She stopped by the school today on the way home from classes to say goodbye and to chat for a bit. Very cool little lady.

Luckily, the next few months will not only be filled with sad goodbyes. For one thing, in less than a week I will finally be moving in with my dear wife. There are parties to be had, skiing and traveling to be done and of course a whole new life waiting for Yoshiko and I on the other side of the Pacific! 2007 will be one hell of a year.

On the subject of skiing, I dropped in to HIS yesterday and was saddened to hear that my English speaking contact there, Tomoko, was no longer working there. The only other English speaker was busy with other people. For air fare, I could have dealt only in Japanese, but arranging a ski tour to Hokkaido with accommodations and everything... nope... will have to try again. Of course, Matt and I are joining Ray and his daughter tomorrow for some skiing, looks like snow is going to be hitting the resort so the conditions should be good!

In other news, a group of NOVA teachers were arrested this week for possession of cocaine and marijuana... dumb asses. Aside from the fact that anyone doing drugs in a foreign country must have the IQ of a rock, doing so in Japan is even dumber. Their arrest has sparked a wave of media interest of course, since people truly believe that most crimes here are perpetrated by us foreigners. Apparently the news reporters have been running around interviewing people who live near foreign teachers and have come out with such insightful quotes as: "They are loud" GASP! and "They don't separate their trash!" OMG! The horror! And all this on national news, quite amusing really. The sad part is that this was likely a political arrest, and the police will certainly not investigate the line up from the buyers to the dealers and into the organized crime rings that sell the drugs. They're happy to have netted these dangerous foreign criminals. This will of course now be used by the Ultra-Right factions, which in Japan influence the ruling LDP and it's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as propaganda to prove that Japan would be better off if it were left only to the Japanese. Lovely.

Also, this warm weather we've been having has had a predictable effect on the flora in the region, with plum blossoms and daffodils sprouting up in Tokyo, anywhere from 2 weeks to a month earlier than usual. This bodes well for my parents' visit since they arrive March 10th and were hoping to see Cherry Blossoms... we shall see.

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