Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tours: Kamagaya and the US, Apparently

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve written and already so much has happened! Everyday I am confronted with new experiences and challenges, and as a result I come away with batches of new memories.

Accomplishment of the day: My first solo outing to the grocery store! Didn’t get lost (that in itself is a feat for little Kate), didn’t fall off my bike nor get hit by a car.

I went with Toki and Nagashim to get the tour of the town and visited 3 out of the 4 schools I will be working at during the year. At every school I met some member of the faculty. With their English being only slightly better than my Japanese, I’m in for an interesting year J!

However, when I reached the middle school, Gochu, (Go means 5, this is the 5th and newest middle school in Kamagaya) I was in for a treat. Gochu is where I will be spending the majority of my time so I was very interested to see who I may be working with. I was greeted by one of three English teachers at the school. The guy walked out and goes, “Hey!” I couldn’t help but laugh as formality was clearly out the window for this meeting. The guy (I can’t remember his name…I’ll work on it) looked and spoke like he fell off Kauai’s North Shore. He was a super nice guy and we had a casual conversation about nothing significant, but I was caught off guard when he quickly told me he was 25 and ask for my age, then raised and eyebrow when I said 23 (dude, seriously?!). Considering I’ve been in Kamagaya for all of 3 days at this point, I’m pretty sure the last thing I need is any sort of scandal.  All in all the meetings went well, with every person I met, excluding 25 year old Kauai man, I was able to say Hello, nice to meet you and introduce myself, all while squeezing in a few bows here and there. After the first meeting as we walked away, Toki firmly told me “good”, then smiled, never for a second letting me forget that I am at work.

During the drive I picked up my now new favorite phrase, let’s go! (Iki ma sho!) I yelled it in the car between each school, and every time they chuckled and corrected my pronunciation. Clearly my personality is having no problem shinning through despite the language barrier.

Back at the BOE I started talking to a man in our office. He was telling me that he visited the U.S. 20 years ago and was clearly a huge baseball fan as all he was doing was naming major U.S. cities he visited and their corresponding MLB teams. When he got to Cleveland he kept saying, “Cleeevand, Cleeevand…” by that point I pretty much had a handle on the game and as soon as I figured out what he was saying, I said, “Indians?” You would have thought I just told him he won the World Series. Upon coming down from his high that I actually do know some MLB teams, I was promptly invited to attend an Obon festival. That answer was totally my ticket in. Being a newbie I am invited to all things Japanese as they want us newbies/foreigners to experience and appreciate their culture. I excitedly told him yes and we worked out the details. We’re meeting another girl from the office at the train station and she’s going to take us to his neck of the woods, where eating, drinking, dancing AND taiko drums will ensue, can’t wait!

Naval Base

Another one of my more interesting experiences thus far has been a trip to the US Naval base in Yokosuka. Sinapi, the ALT from NZ, is engaged to a US Naval chef from Chicago. He happens to be on deployment at the moment, but she kindly invited us to venture with her to the base for Friendship Day.

Friendship Day is the one day a year where the base is open to the public. The line to get in was nuts as everyone wanted to experience a taste of Little America. And Little America it was! On base they had Taco Bell, Chili’s, Nathan’s hot dogs, Krispy Kreme, Long John Silvers, Baskin Robbins, Subway and many more. Their were tons of booths selling water, hot dogs, hamburgers, press on tattoos, entire pizzas to take home, NCIS hats and just about anything else remotely American you can think of. There was a car show and fireworks and more non-asian people than I’d seen in a long time.

While these American’s were most definitely from the U.S. they struck me as different and I couldn’t figure it out until we left. I came to the conclusion that while, like them I am an American living in Japan, I on the other hand am immersed and accepting of the Japanese culture, and most likely a little less patriotic then they. I came here because I was curious about Japan, which wasn’t exactly the reason the base residents were there. They signed up to represent America in the most courageous way possible, Japan just happened to be where they were sent. For all intensive purposes they could still be in America if they choose to never leave the base. It was an interesting dynamic and an observation I wanted to share.
I asked if I could pet the dog, (DOESN"T IT LOOK LIKE BARNEY!?)
he told me he hadn't eaten and would bite...
Their was a Samoan dance performance.
This is Sara, I wanted to steal her.

1 comment:

  1. We've been in Canada for a couple of weeks and are way behind on e-mail. Great to hear from you and excited that things are going well. Jan and Ed



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