November 19, 2007

Jim the New JET-Over 3 Months

The new members of the JET Program arrived in Japan in July and August. Our good friend Jim was one of them. He has been kind enough to share some of his stories about his new life as a teacher. He is from New York City and is living and teaching on a small island between Kagoshima on the southern end of Kyushu and Okinawa's main island. This is going to be an interesting adventure for him.

Read his first story
Read his second story

If you are on the JET and would like to share some of your stories please send me an Email

Jim wrote
Hi everyone. It's a week before Halloween, but it feels like a week before the 4th of July. I'm still able to go snorkeling sometimes. Feels weird to do that in this time of year when I should be raking leaves. My hatred of the sun continues.

School is going ok. I just finished teaching about Halloween. I start off talking about the innocent time children have collecting candy ,but I usually end with tales of teens covering homes with eggs and toilet paper. Valuable cultural exchange.

I've already been here over 3 months, and I've studied the language a grand total of one hour. Being busy and being lazy is a combination that cripples my scholastic endeavors. For the most part, I can get by with what Japanese I already know. My grammar is pretty poor, but I can usually get my point across. Actually, the times when I'm left alone in class without my team teacher (which is technically illegal for them to do, from what I understand) I start teaching in Japanese. The English level here is extraordinarily low, so I opt to be partially understood in their own language instead of being not understood at all in English.

A few years ago, if you had told me I'd be a teacher, and that I'd be conducting classes in a different language, I would have accused you of being stupid.

I just got back from the mainland for a mid-year orientation. I was supposed to go by ferry, which takes 16 hours. We get ushered to a huge empty room with dozens of travelers lying on thin unwashed futon cushions on the floor. The ferry is enormous, but there are few chairs to be found. I'd rather lie down anyway, since the boat bobs up and down so steeply.

Luckily, my higher-ups allowed for some extra money for a plane ticket instead. It . After all this time, it was nice being able to finally do the things I can't on my island, such as: going to a movie theater; buying any decent electronics; and having fruits and vegetables to choose from. It was a little bit cooler up there, too (but not much).

My hotel was in the middle of Japan's version of a red-light district. The surrounding streets were filled with what's called
"snack bars". They are essentially strip clubs without the "strip". These bars hire young women to dress up like they were going to the prom, and then flirt with the bar patrons for the duration of the night. The men are expected to buy (expensive) drinks for these young bar employees sitting beside them. Outside each bar is a guy in a sharp suit watching over some of the ladies as they advertise themselves at the door front. The street is filled with more of these people than actual pedestrians. It's a pretty unique atmosphere, but I don't get it at all.

Well, I guess that's all that's worth reporting for now. Let me know if I'm missing out on anything new or exciting back elsewhere in the world.


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