Real welcoming flag right? This is the first thing you see when you get off the ferry at Mishima - an island 45km away from Hagi or 70 minutes on the ferry. It's a pretty significant boat, and boat ride out there. It's quite comfortable, I just sit in the airconditioned room and sleep until I arrive!
When you arrive in Mishima the port is only 400metres from the school, but it's about a 45 degree angle from the port to the school. I arrived at the school before 10:30am, and didn't actually start teaching until after 11:30. This is pretty much the way it will be at most schools - turn up, slack off, do some teaching, go home.
I did my self-introduction 3 times. Once with one 7th grade boy, once with one 8th grade girl and once with a 9th grade boy and girl – yes, that’s right, there are only 4 students at the JHS. In between the classes I had school lunch, which was quite good. The students all have to help prepare lunch each day, and have to get dressed in lab coats, hair nets and face masks to prepare it – which only involves putting rice and the meal into a bowl and putting the bowl, along with dessert and a milk carton, onto a tray.
After school there isn't much to do out on the Island, so I went to the school gym to play table tennis with the students – actually I played with Morita sensei while the students played with each other, basically because they are so good, and I am terrible!
I stay at the only Ryokan out on the island - they always assign the ALT the back room, as it is the only one with its own bathroom. It's comfortable enough, though the futon is thin. The whole vibe out on the island is pretty chilled, I don't do much teaching and the people are nice.
At the elementary school the next day I did my self intro twice – once in the 1st & 2nd grade, and once in grades 3 – 6. Obviously I didn’t do the whole spiel, but spent more time playing with things, and making them eat vegemite! None of them liked it – some of their faces were fabulous, they just looked so totally disgusted by the taste.
At lunchtime a couple of kids came to grab me – literally! They came into the staffroom and grabbed my hands, and kept saying “lunch, let’s go”. Then of course I got all the “can you eat [insert Japanese food name here]” questions, and amazement when I used chopsticks! Then I was led around by a first grader and showed the cleaning up routine, before being dragged out to the playground.
What I love about the primary schoolers is that they have no comprehension of the fact that I don’t speak Japanese. They just speak at me, and drag me places. I spent the whole day just being completely illiterate. The dietician at the school speaks English, she works at it she told me, because she thinks it is important. The VP has a little, and the 3-6 Grade teacher also can a little.
After lunch I took the 2:30 ferry home, and was back at my apartment before 4pm.
Overall, it's nice to be out on Mishima, but good to be back in my apartment - and with internet access!