Thursday, 27 March 2008
Principals don't work so hard in Japan, the Vice Principals do most of the work! Also, at the BOE Tsucky works crazy hours (usually from 7am - 10 or 11pm) but at schools the latest he would have to stay is probably 7pm, or earlier. The Vice Principal stays the longest, then the teachers, and the Principal gets to go home pretty early, compared to everyone else that is!
Also, it means he has to move to that other area - he will get a small apartment and live there during the week, coming back to Hagi to see his family on the weekends. Understandably, his kids are a bit sad - actually over Tsucky's career he has spent a fair proportion living apart from them, or working so much that he never sees them. Finally he gets a job which would have him home for dinner at a reasonable hour and it is in a different city!
Our new Supervisor is an Elementary Teacher. She doesn't speak so much English, though she does try. I think that all of us at once (there are 6 of us assigned to this Board of Education) overwhelmed her earlier, and she couldn't keep up. It will be a real learning experience for us, having a supervisor who doesn't have fabulous English.
Also, my most important English Teacher (at my base school he is the guy who does everything for/with me) and a fabulous Office Lady from my base school who was helping me with my Japanese, are also going to new schools, which I won't visit. So though it's the end of the school year, and the kids are all super excited, the staff are less so as it means many changes, very quickly. Teachers get very little notice that they are being transferred, and are transferred on average every 3 years, and aren't allowed to tell people until about 5 days before they have to move! It's a crazy system...
So when I go back to my schools in about a week and a half I will most likely have new English teachers to work with, with no warning!
Saturday, 22 March 2008
During the day it was so boring. I feel so sorry for the teachers who live there. They have to do a 3 year rotation out there, but once they have done it, they get to choose where to go next. Usually the teachers just get shuffled around to different schools every few years, with no say in the matter, so for some teachers the Mishima rotation may be worth it.
Basically, there are 2 restaurants, and 1 shop. There are a lot of vending machines - cigarettes, beer and soft drink, and you can do karaoke at the ryokan (where I stay). That's it.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Yesterday the water was so flat, the ride out here so smooth. Even over night in the Ryokan was good (and I don't really like that place). This morning it was raining, pretty hard really, and I even joked that I may want to stay another day, because the water looked so rough. But I really was just joking! Tomorrow is a National Holiday, and I had plans!
At about 1.30 a message came from the port that the ship was cancelled - the last ship of the day. Then even better news, as tomorrow is a holiday there will be no ferries all day. Great. Now I am stuck on Mishima until Friday morning. I had to get the school to pay for the next 2 nights at the Inn, and am a little worried about dinner/breakfast/lunch etc - there is no school tomorrow, so I can't even rely on school lunch!
So tomorrow night there is a dinner at the Vice Principal's house which I will go to... and other than that I will be bored. My ipod battery is almost flat and I have 1/3 of an unread book.
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
I've just returned from a 4 1/2 day trip to
Some Basics about Bangla
Arriving at midday all I could see were clouds, or what I assumed to be clouds. However, it seems likely that it was really just pollution. In my time in
On the drive from the airport to Asif's house there were 5 things that I kept noticing.
1. Pollution - which later led to headaches, and really sore eyes.
2. Power lines - many of which are illegally connected, tumble across the city.
3. Traffic - the theory in
4. Staring - normally passengers have to leave the airport building to find their friends or family. This means that hundreds of Bengalis stand behind a long fence 30 metres from the airport doors, looking for their friends. This also meant that there were hundreds of Bengalis staring at me.
5. Poverty - it's very difficult to describe just how poor most people in
Luxury in Poverty
My friend lives in a mansion, across the street from the Prime Minister. The house was built by the British over 100 years ago. I'm not sure how many rooms were in the house - we were given a tour of the family's living area but I could see more rooms in behind. In the backyard there were at least 7 shacks for the servants to live, and more around the side for the security personnel.
Pre Wedding: The Holud
A Muslim Bengali wedding is composed of many parts. Prior to the actual marriage both the Bride and Groom have their own Holud. At each ceremony the betrothed takes a seat on a stage and is surrounded by food. While there are musical performances each guest at the Holud comes and sits with the Bride or Groom, paints their face with tumeric paste and feeds them.
One of Asif’s uncles explained to us that a Muslim wedding is supposed to be boring, for the Bride and Groom. Each ceremony we attended certainly lived up to that explanation. All the ceremonies seemed to consist of the Bride and Groom sitting on stages for hours at a time, and having their photo taken over and over again!
The actual marriage was quite boring. We drove to the bride’s (Zafreen) house, and some segregation of the sexes was attempted. The boys I traveled with sat with the groom and his male relatives while I sat in Zafreen’s bedroom with all the female relatives. First her mother, and mother in law dressed her in mountains of gold jewelry (it took almost half an hour to put it all on), then they veiled her, and the Imam came in with 1 of her uncles, and 2 of Asif’s uncles. The bride had to utter “I’m willing” in the presence of these men, and then sign a contract. At that moment she and Asif were married – and Asif had done nothing! The Imam and the uncles then went to Asif to tell him the good news. Some prayers were sung, and Asif signed the contract.
We went back to Asif’s house to prepare for the wedding dinner (not the reception though, this was only Thursday and the reception was not until Sunday). I was brought a fancier sari to wear, and an Aunt took me shopping for jewelry. At the Holud I was the most underdressed woman, wearing very western jewelry with my sari, so an Aunt took me to buy some serious bling.
The Wedding Dinner
At 2 costumed horses (from the Presidential Guard) arrived with their costumed handlers. Once dressed, the groom and his brother mounted the horses and were veiled with garlands of jasmine and roses. We then paraded to the dining hall. A 22 piece military band led the way, followed by the horses and a long convoy of cars. At every intersection police were controlling the traffic to allow us to pass.
Obviously, the reason we went to
If it hadn’t been for the wedding, I probably wouldn’t have gone to
Monday, 3 March 2008
The school year in Japan ends on March 26 and the next one starts on April 7. This coming Saturday, whilst I am in Bangladesh, the 9th graders will be graduating, all across Hagi.
Today was the last time I will visit Sanmi JHS until the next school year, so we had a 'games' class with the 9th graders.
They are a great class - pretty good English, and generally quite keen. I have had a lot of fun with them over the last 7 months. I think a big part of why we have fun is that it is a small class - only 14 students - so no one can tune out, because I may pick on them next!
The end of the class was quite embarrassing - I had to write on all their graduation message cards, and give them encouraging farewell messages! Then the students gave me a big card which they had made - mostly full of grammatically correct messages! How gratifying for an English teacher!
There are some famous caves near Hagi - Akiyoshi do - and yesterday there was a Marathon Festival. I was not going to run 21.25km (technically it's only a half marathon festival) but was up for the 5km challenge. I even went to the gym beforehand to train. However, I made a fatal error. At the gym, which costs $1.50 per visit, there are 4 treadmills, with all the instructions in Japanese. I have figured out how to press go, and that's about it. Unfortunately I don't know how to set it to 'incline' so I had been practicing running on a flat surface and yesterday was anything but flat - 90% of the time we were running up or down a mountain. Obviously running uphill is hard, but running downhill is just as hard!
I did manage to finish, though I certainly didn't cover myself in glory!