01 2月 2015


    So while I love that blogspot gives me the freedom to cutify my blog, I have many other things that I want to talk about. And I'm a person that likes keeping things organized. (Sure. Messes here and there are fine but that's all.)

    So I'd like to announce that I am officially moving this blog, to this new one HERE

    I'm truly going to miss my awesome Rilakkuma wallpaper and being able to change the fonts and the look of the page, but I'm ready to grow it into something bigger with the help of Wordpress.
    Am I gonna stop blogging?

    Of course not. I'll just be blogging in a new page, where I can share with you all my other adventures, not just the written ones. So for the moment, I am still renovating the new blog and reorganizing things and transferring some work over to the new page, but I hope that you will continue to follow me.

    I honestly don't really care if it's not completely done. I just want you to see it, and stay with me as the changes happen. I don't want you to sit back and wait and wait as I keep making changes but don't share them with you. That's kinda boring right?

    So don't be shy. Go to this awesome little page HERE, and let's keep this thing going!


    Does this mean I'll delete this blog and all its content?
    No. Absolutely not.

    That's like burning a diary from when I was 13 years old. What I will do is keep this blog forever open, but I do have other plans for the posts that I have written here. :P

31 1月 2015

A long-ass post

Day Written: Jan 30th, 2015 and Jan 31st

    So it's been one week and on wednesday I got an email asking me what time on Friday or Saturday I am free. I told her I and free after 5 on Friday and all day Saturday. 

    Well today is Friday and I started to get worried because I didn't get a reply from my email. It figures she got sick and wasn't able to reply. No worries. You need your time to rest right? So she was able to send me an email today around my lunch time, and probably she will call Saturday at 11am. 

    Which means my free krispy kreme ticket won't go to waste. Today is the last day and I honestly thought that I would have to let it expire and not use it. :../ 
    So my plans just changed at the last minute, and now I'm definitely going to Aeon (the mall), even though it's almost an hour drive just for an average mall. But I get to have krispy kreme, Starbucks, an atm machine conveniently inside the mall, and check out the bookstore. I do kinda wanna go to the Kaldi store (where they have foreign goods from random countries, so no true target customer) and get cereal and oatmeal but I forgot the money at the apartment. 

    And I know my problem is that once I step inside that apartment, I'm totally in my comfort zone and don't wanna get out. Even if I need some food. Plus it's a Friday. The most laziest day in my schedule. It's completely my time after work to waste it as I want. 

~ * ~

    It's now Saturday, and my schedule for yesterday kind of changed. Apparently if you tell the school that you pucked, the school nurse will advise you to go home early. At least that's what happened to me. Immediately after lunch, I threw up all my food. Not that I ate much. But the problem with that is that some of it didn't make it to the toilet. Actually I didn't even get to the toilet at all.
    Part of it came out in the hallway (outside area, so no one steps on it). Then I ran as fast and as safely as I could to the bathroom but puke was already coming out and I had to do that awful thing where you hold it in your mouth, which just makes you want to puke more.
    So instead I went and threw up in the trash can of this room next to the bathroom. Luckily no one saw. But I still had the problem of picking up my own puke that was outside.
    I asked the cleaning lady if she had any plastic bags, told her the reason, but then she went and told the nurse, and then the nurse told me it was ok. That she would pick it up and that I should go home. But in my head I'm thinking, I'd rather pick it up myself. I honestly don't mind. It's picking up other peoples puke that I can't handle as well.

    But she insisted, and insisted that I ended up calling Interac and telling them that the teachers said it was ok to leave early. I called because I figured they would give me a more direct "order". But it was all kind of messy and annoying.

     To explain it more easily here's what happened:
  1. teachers told me it was ok to leave early
  2. I tell teachers I'll call Interac to see if THEY also say it's ok
  3. I call Interac and tell them what the teachers told me
  4. Interac tells me they'll call the teachers to see if it's ok with them
  5. Interac calls the school and talks with the secretary and the head English teacher who I assist (JTE)
  6. I talk to Interac via the phone of the school
  7. I talk to the JTE again and say it's ok.
    Trust me. They make things more complicated than what it needs to be. 
    Recently in my last visit for the Kindergarten, one of the teachers had the schedule ready for me. But the secretary said to send it to Interac first, and then Interac sends it to me. But I thought, mmmmmmmm,

    Why send it to a middle person in Nagoya whose priority is not my schedule nor my time, and will take more time because they wanna translate SOME of the schedule in English since they believe I need that, when I'm sitting in the same office as the other teacher and she can quite literally give me the schedule in hand?
    Is it not easier to give the schedule to Interac AFTER giving it to me? 

    I mean they also take time to scan it, translate a portion of it (which if you're gonna translate a document, do it properly and not half-assed), and turn it into a PDF file (and not the complete schedule at one time let me tell you. It's like a student who sends you the first 2 pages of their report in one email and then 30 minutes later they send you page 3 and 4 in a second email, with all pages being a separate file). 

    If this was DePaul, my teacher would have replied to me saying to send all the pages in one file and in one email, even though you have already sent the whole thing. It makes life easier for everyone. But universities here are a joke (this is my opinion; the thing people write in blogs and diaries), so I doubt people actually learn anything valuable that prepares them for life and their occupations.

    But anyways, I know my viewpoint at the moment is very negative so I'll move right along to what I wanted to say. Which was this:

    I had thrown-up before, but I didn't tell any of the Japanese teachers. Just the Brazilian helper, but we both know that throwing up is not a cause to stay at home. It happens. You move on.

    I ended up going home early and just ate some food to fill my stomach, and took a one hour nap. Then headed to AEON (the mall) by highway. That costed around 4.20$? to use the highway. But I prefer the highway since there's no one in my way, I can drive at the speed I like to drive (pretty fast), and I can get there faster too since most people don't use the highway. And I learned you can use your credit card in those highway booths too. But cover up your nose since that booth is gonna reek of cigarette smoke. I guess they're just really bored that they end up lighting up some tobacco as they contemplate about their lives being spread on the open road.

    At least that's what I imagine.

    At AEON, I went straight to the bookstore. That's where I most loose myself. Even if most things are in Japanese and I can't read them. I just like books. And it reminds me of the reason why I like learning Japanese. Why I like learning languages.
    Because I wan't to read all of those books.

    Ok, maybe not all of them but at least the ones that interest me. And it's the best way to increase your vocabulary. I know this first hand, because that's the same thing I did with English.
    My mom knew my English wasn't good, or at least not up to the standards where I could survive on my own. So she was my teacher too and read books with me in English at home and started speaking more and more in English. Although I believe this also has a backside because without having a solid first language, it stops your cognitive thinking in your second language as well. And as I child I just liked talking in Spanish, because I liked it and nothing more.

    But to my point, I read and read, and because I naturally like reading anyway I started going to libraries and just picking up anything that looked interesting. Of course, being in ESL was a factor within all this but they all helped each other to increase my English. So when I look at books, all I want to do is understand everything and anything. You're being sucked into a world you're just curious to explore.

    I looked at most of the shelves, and stopped mostly at the 日本語 section. Looked mostly at childrens stories too, and a bit on English learning books. Which isn't much learning if you're translating everything into Japanese. All you need in your own language are the explanations, and maybe 2 - 3 sentences that translate only the portion of the grammar you're studying.
    Otherwise, it should be all in the language you are learning.

    Of course in the beginner level, you can't help but have a lot of your own language EXPLAINING things, but as you go up to intermediate and advanced, you shouldn't need your own language at all, because you have learned how to use dictionaries and sources to look for words or grammar. If the book is introducing something new, only unless you are in the advanced level should it explain to you in the language you're learning, but it should have a nice little glossary in the back or just a vocab chart within the chapters. Otherwise I don't see the problem in it having a short and blunt equivalent of your own language.

    This is the problem that I saw with most books that try to teach you Japanese from a Japanese bookstore. They don't have the equivalent. Even though the reader is specifically targeted from whatever language they are coming from. In my case, I'm learning Japanese through English. Learning it through Spanish would just complicate things (for me).
    They give the sample sentences so you know the grammar/word in context and some multiple choice questions, but essentially you are learning it in test form and not through acquisition. Even some level N3 books are introducing new grammar, but they don't show me the equivalent so I have no idea what I'm learning. So I figured it's best to stick with Japanese language learning books from English bookstores (including Amazon), and children books since they tend to have interesting stories.

    And I mean childrens books as those that are for elementary schoolers or those thick books that have 365 days of folktales, or interesting facts. I myself have one called 世界を変えた人たち 365, aka People Who Changed The World 365. What's strange is that they have a translation of the title in English saying "365 Ways To Change Your Life", but that's not what the title says at all.

    After that I got some donuts from Krispy Kreme, and then sat down on a nice comfy sofa and drank my tall hot chocolate that was around 4 dollars and something cents. I honestly don't care about the price because I've been deprived of my Starbucks for months now from being in the middle of nowhere. So 4 dollars isn't gonna hurt much. The next time I'll be having a Starbucks will be in March, so really. Let's get serious.

    With that said, AEON told me about the school location, and gave me their website which you can see HERE to look more info up. It's the Kita Senju Branch in Adachi-ku, super close to the Kita Senju train station. I mean it's literally a walk away. I've asked some people I know about the area and they told me it's a city area (compared to Saitama), and something about being an old town so there's a tomb. I've also searched it online but I only get things like famous places, which at the moment I'm not interested in.
    So my best friend has been google maps and just searching regular everyday places like supermarkets, malls, IKEA!

    So far I like it, and I read over some of the details they provide about the staff in the website. Although I used popjyso.com to help me out with vocab I don't know. But anyways, looks like a really good location. And some of the peeps I've met at the group interview will be located more or less around the Tokyo area, so excited to meet up again.

    For this location the contract is from April 1 2015 - April 20th 2016, with a much bigger paycheck than what I get now. So I'll be able to save more money. (With the salary I have now, I barely have enough left in my bank account to put towards savings. It's quite worrisome and stressful because I have to worry whether I spent too much this month or not, to be able to carry me over for the next month.)

    Training is from April 1 to April 10 with 80 dollars for a full day and half for a half day of training, and of course like they mention on the website, the rent for apartments is fixed. For the training, it's gonna be held at Omiya Training Center and the email tells me we should arrive there by 6/6:30 pm on March 31st , soooooo I'm not sure if we actually stay there or if we can live somewhere else for the meantime?

    Mk. Just asked a buddy of mine. He said we live there for the time being. So probably what I'll do is leave most of my things at Kento's place, and then just live out of my suitcase for that time.

    Oh and one last thing!

    This is a question my friend asked me. "What would you say to the young ones at school if they are thinking about becoming an ALT?"

    I would say:

  1. know your rights. Just because you work 29.9 hours, therefore being below 30 hours does NOT mean you are not eligible for shakai hoken (insurance. and the very important type).

    this is a lie that dispatch companies will tell you because they don't want to take responsibility for paying for employees health insurance. Thus this makes the practice illegal.!.!.!.

    If you are applying to JET, I wouldn't worry too much because it's through the government, but do keep your eyes open. And I would be extra careful with other dispatch companies.

    Essentially read ALL of your contract details, and if they don't give shakai hoken and give you this bullshit about you not qualifying, simply say no.

    Everyone in Japan is eligible for shakai hoken regardless of hours. In Japan, part time jobs and full time jobs are not so black and white in regards to hours like it is in U.S. Here a part time worker can work almost as much as a full timer, but they won't get much of a voice in things.
    People here work under one saying: If you don't ask me, I'm not going to tell you.
    But the problem with this is, you CAN'T ask about something you DON'T know. Thus making it hypocrisy. But you're not in U.S. You're in Japan. You're the newbie who's expected to ask questions about anything and everything.

    If I were JET or a dispatch company, I would give you much more information. Like how a teachers room is set up. Because the pile of information in that room is also important to you!

    I would tell you how schools are set up and how you only have 20 minutes or less to eat your entire lunch. You are welcomed to eat with the students, again, IF you ask. It's ok not to eat with them, but then they'll look at you like you aren't a team-player.
    And if you don't like the school lunches, just bring your own. Cancel your payments to their school lunches and prepare your own. That simple. That way you don't have to tell them that you don't actually like their food.

    Many people here don't separate emotions from judgement, so they will take most things personally. If you say you don't like rice, natto, squid, mushrooms, tomatoes, whatever. They're gonna look at you strange and emphasize again how delicious it is. But wait until they go home, or those kids grow up. They're gonna tell you all the foods they don't like, and don't want to eat.
  3. Make friends with BOTH Japanese and international people.
    Japanese will be your window to those things you don't understand as well to learning new things about Japan, and international people will be your window for frustrations, work comparisons, and simply taking a break from Japan's way of thinking.

    Japanese people will love to explain to you why they love eating rice (because they've been brainwashed after the economy had a surplus supply of rice and made it the staple food ever since). They'll love to tell you all things Japanese, even though you may already know about it. One thing you don't wanna do to much is say "I already know that".

    Again, they're gonna take it personal, and may not open up for other things in the future because "you may already know". Childish. I know. That's why you have your international friends.

    Some people say, "ooh. I'm in Japan. I don't wanna nor need to make foreign friends. I want Japanese friends". I understand that. But trust me when I say that there will be major differences at first. And if you haven't already experienced culture shock, it's going to be very difficult. A balance always makes your life happier and much more rewarding.

    Your japanese friends may know where to get the best sushi, but your international friends will know where to buy clothes and shoes your size. (That actually fit.) Or information to medical facilities that have western services as well as English speakers.
  4. Stay professional.
    In Japan, and some other Asian countries, emotions are not separate from the workplace. People here take effort in making you feel comfortable/happy/at ease/whatever. But if you upset someone, they're not going to want to fix the problem and it may be best for you to transfer. So be the strong westerner, and keep your emotions aside.

    If you're gonna cry, cry later. Because you need to stay strong and show them that you are level headed. Keep that sadness and anger, and savor it for the moment you leave. Not saying that everyone will leave, but just saying if you are, savor it for that last moment and then let SOME of it out. Just be honest and blunt.

    If that school doesn't respect your abilities and that you can do more, just say that. If they don't provide information about things that are important and which also affect your time at work, just say that. Personally, if someone hurts me, I have no reason to be nice to them anymore.

    So stay professional, be polite, and savor all that negativity for when it is most convenient for YOU.

    You are the best person there that can show them you are a hard worker and take your job seriously.
  5. Pay attention to your salary and checks every month.
    Keep a tab on how much you get paid and any insurance and deductions you have every month. It's important to know this so that you can keep a balanced life, and not be dead poor by the time the month ends.
  6. Call your friends and family back home. Talk to them often. Send boxes of things. Write some letters. Make calls. Heck, make plans to meet for the future.

    They are your support group, and as much as they are sad that you left, they will support you in what you want to do, so don't leave them hanging. Support them back. Keep track on their lives too.
  7. Always talk to other people who are in your same line of work. You never know when you'll find a better scenario and may want to change.
  8. Keep your options open. Don't settle. This is how people will take advantage of you, and you may not get much opportunities for advancements.

    As soon as that 3rd month rolled in, I knew that being an ALT was not going to be a job I will keep doing for many years. Some people like it, some people don't. I like advancements, and learning and improving my skills and abilities. And I like having responsibility. I don't like being in a position where I have to ask if it's ok to do something. It's annoying. I like being the boss. But if my job doesn't give me the opportunity nor the money to BE the boss, then I'll look elsewhere. It's that simple.

    Yes, I have a latino mentality when it comes to work. It's not a problem. There's this awesome thing called working in multicultural environments that Japan just hasn't grasped yet, hence why they have problems with most workers who aren't Japanese. And don't buy this bullcrap of Japan being a one race one culture country, 'cuz it's not. No country is. There will always be majorities and minorities, and being respectful is key to success.

    Think about it this way: if all "foreigners" suddenly left Japan (and I'm talking about EVERYONE, including those who are considered foreign but may not be so. So like all Chinese, Koreans, Brazilians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Americans, Brits, Ainu, second/third generations, halfs, everyone.) And no new foreigners ever entered Japan, do you think Japan would survive?

27 1月 2015

AEONの面接 Interview

     As I prepare my shower (with old knobs that no one uses anymore in technologically advanced countries), I'll write a bit about my interview with AEON.

     I thought to myself every minute "I will get this", and it ended up being a good interview. Here are the basics:

  1. you come in as a group, where they give you some information about their company. most of it is review, other little parts are new. Those are the parts that I wrote down. Although they don't give you much time for your own answers since they're kinda in a hurry to do all that is planned. And let me tell you, it took our group basically the whole day.
  2. then she or he shows you what a lesson is like at AEON and some of the "new" technologies they implemented (a TV connected to an Ipad. . . . . yea, like I've never seen that before, although compared to my situation now (only 1 old windows computer at the elementary school, and nothing else; I am limited to even make my lesson materials) , it saves SOOOO much time and stress. As well as how they break down teaching of certain phrases. And then some simple activities (1 for adults and 1 for kids).
  3. next was the little grammar quiz they give you. I had this same thing in Interac, and I have to say this one was much harder. But because I had gotten my TEFL certificate, I felt more prepared to explain differences. And I had plenty of non-American friends in US who always asked questions about English, so I'm quite used to explaining differences in similar words and I like giving examples.

    Basically the interviewer says 4 to 5 words out-loud and you're suppose to spell it out. Then there is the vocab and grammar sections where you just explain the differences between the two. I don't remember everything, but I do know I was stuck a little bit on what's the difference between "farther" and "further". I had another one that asked the difference between "I have played golf" and " I have been playing golf". That one was fairly easy for me as we studied this in TEFL.

    Answer here ---> The first one talks about experience. The experience of doing something in the past, thus it stopped and isn't continuing now. The second one talks about an action (playing golf) that starts in the past and is continuing into the present, and probably will continue. 'Though when this action will end, we don't specifically know when. Definitely in the future, but when specifically, we don't know.

    And on the back they just ask questions about your preferences for the job (what day you can start and where you want to work), things like how would you help the companies goals and how would you be as a co-worker. Usual things. Nothing to worry about.

    We did realize that people had different quizzes, once we talked to each other about the answers. Some of those questions were difficult, even for native speakers.
  4. After that, we were split into 2 groups (though still in the same room) in order to do our demo lessons. At this point another interviewer walks in the room, so there is one person watching one group and another watching the other group. Saves time I think. What they had told me for the demo lesson was simple: choose whether you are doing the lesson for kids or adults, it's 15 minutes, and include the usual things like (being interactive, communicative/speaking a lot from the students, TTT (Teacher Talking Time) is to a minimum, have warm-up, some sort of review of words or phrase, etc). I'm not gonna say them all because you learn this in TEFL.

    I highly recommend anyone to take a TEFL course before applying to a teaching job in Japan; even if it is just to be an ALT. It really helps out in the long run of your career.

  5. Then I forgot what we had right after that, but I do know during the group session time, you watch this 20 minute video. But definitely they told us whether we passed to the next phase (the one-on-one interviews).

    The difference here that I found with Interac and AEON, is that in the Interac interview, you are pretty much given the job once you are welcomed to the group interview. Verses AEON this was not the case. You're still on your tippy toes worrying whether your trip to the office was worth it. In my case, my round trip was around 200 dollars. Really. No joke.

    Luckily, we all passed to the next round so it wasn't awkward to tell anyone to leave at that point. 150 people applied this time around, and only 10 of us got to the group interview round. I think this was just interviews within Japan. I can't talk for the number of applications outside US.

    They then told us briefly what time our interviews would start. So some of us were at 2:30, 3:40, 4:20 (me and 2 other guys), and some afterwards. The interviewers did take an hour for lunch before starting on anyone. We took our breaks also. To eat and just relax for a bit.

    Until one guy came back with his horror story about one of the interviewers being really strict. That's when we all were thinking some of the following or all of the following: "holy shit, i hope i don't get him as my interviewer", "I won't step out of line", "If I get him, I won't get this job", etc.

    The poor guy was criticized for his accent. And was disciplined for crossing his legs during the info session, and accused of laughing with the person next to him. (I was sitting next to him! But we never once did that. Many of us laughed at some parts of the video, but that's a natural reaction when something is funny on TV. I didn't even pay attention to him when the interviewer was talking.
  6. He told us this after he had finished with his interview. Then it was my turn and another guys to do our one-on-one interviews. Btw, we hung out at a near McDonalds on the second floor. We tried a restaurant, but it would have taken too much time for a party of 6. So McDonalds it was.

    Apparently I didn't know about this part, but you do another demo lesson during the one-on-one interview round. They just show you a page of one of their books. (we all had the same page to demo on). This page was from one of their grammar books, and it had an example dialogue and some examples to follow. Then they wanted you to do the free section (aka production exercise). You got 10 minutes to prepare. And the lesson would be 7 minutes long. My interviewer left the room during those 10 minutes. (I didn't ask the others if that same thing happened but I'm sure it did.)

    During those 10 minutes, yea I panicked and tried to calm down. They also told me that I could use the whiteboard and the textbook. Meaning ---> I SHOULD use the whiteboard and I SHOULD use the textbook.

    Of course I had things to improve on, so they give you a second try, after they have given you feedback. And you better write that shit down, 'cuz they are not nice about repeating things.

    This second time, I had the same amount of time to prepare, and they told me they would just stop me whenever.

    I did better, and then they went on to talk about an example schedule, and specifically talk about the questions regarding when I can start and where I want to work. They asked why I had chosen Saitama. It was mainly because I know people there, so it's easier for me to get things done and ask for help. And if something happens to me, let's say me being half dead, then someone can identify me and speak for me. Also because it's close to Tokyo.
  7. After this, some of us got together and had dinner. All I really ate was meat meat and more meat and lots of cabbage. I had a free beer from one of the guys that offered it to us all, and I chose to have a red wine. Though I'm never gonna order wine again in a restaurant unless I want the whole bottle. Damn it Japan. You have no idea what you're missing in the wine world. There aren't just 2 types of wine. And even those two are not suppose to taste the same all the time.

    This is what I've noticed when I order red wine at a restaurant. They all taste the same. They never tell you the year, nor the place of origin, nor what kind of wine. Same with the white one. They just tell you, red or white.

    Like wine is really that simple to categorize. Well, apparently they made it so. They're more into beer. And with wine, they don't even know how to serve it. I've seen it being served in so many kinds of glasses and cups. All I have to say is that Japan doesn't know what wine is, and they're missing out big time.

    Imagine all those people who don't like beer. They could be making money by selling them other things.

    Another of my number 1 favorite drinks of all time, that is like this rarity over here is tequilla. You heard me. I rarely see it. And when I do see it, I take the opportunity and drink as much as I can handle.

    That shit is not leaving my sight until I drink all of it. Damn it. I can't even order a mojito.
    If it's not made with tequila, then it's not a mojito. That's just common sense. Then again. We're talking about a country that doesn't want to learn new things outside their invisible shields. And if that's what they want, then that's what they get.

    Just don't expect others to ignore you. Because lack of information is weakness. And stop complaining about your declining birth-rate and population. You don't want to accept immigrants, nor improve the rights of women so you're making this issue bigger on your own.


     Anyways, that's what happened. It went well and at the end they told all of us except for one girl, that they would call us in one week.

21 1月 2015

Interview no.2 (Group Interview)

    So I've recently made a big list of things I want to talk about here, and let people know about being an ALT. At least from what I have experienced. I do take my tasks seriously regardless of what it is. As well as talk about some of those things you can't find in a textbook.

    This is something I've said since I was in DePaul. How I wanted to go to Japan and learn the culture and peoples way of thinking. And that's what I got and still getting. But I'm also learning that along the way, there will be things you like and things you won't like.
    So I just wanted to give the heads up for that. I know I kinda flew by with the training details, and a lot of the culture that I encountered in the schools, as well as peoples behaviour that is spread pretty wide. It's not just one particular person nor a particular school.

    But before I get into all these topics, I just wanted to briefly say that I'm now applying for other jobs. I've found that it's easier to find jobs once you are IN the country. Companies definitely favor you already being here verses overseas applicants. They'll respond much quicker. And it's less preparation on their part. Also there are many places that want you to have at least 2 years of experience, and if you fall below those 2 years, they won't really consider you for the position.
     This is the next hard part of finding jobs, because it means you'll have to stick with whomever you initially contracted with until you get those 2 years under your belt or find another company that doesn't ask for much. But in that instance you may not be able to increase your salary.

    Japan is old-grampa like that. They pay more for more "experience", and not for qualifications per say. Yes teaching as well as any other jobs does require experience in order to get better, but if that experience limits what you can do then it's not a learning experience with growth. It's just an experience for the heck of it, and you may not get any better. I think here is where US and Japan differ, and I'm on the US team for this one.

    I value an experience where you grow in your strengths and abilities, as well as expand your knowledge and being an active participant. You can't expect a new person to do exactly what you just did if they're just looking. You can only create output, with active output participation.
    Whereas, here it's more about an input, passive participation. But their expectations will be much lower to begin with. Teachers in classrooms will even say things like "you can't do this huh...", which from my point of view limits their willingness to explore more and try more.

    Anyways, like I said: applying for other places. So far I have an interview this coming Sunday (January 25th, 2015). Today is Wednesday and haven't made travel arrangements yet. . . . Yikes.

20 1月 2015

I'm a flower killer

     This is a response to something that happened today.
     Something shocking.
     And something even I can't believe.

     Not just one thing but two.

     I had a lesson for 3-1 (third graders) in Sakahogi. The target language was "What do you like? I like (insert name of fruits here)". The previous lesson was about "Do you like (insert animal name here)? Yes, I do./ No, I don't". I wanted to review this a little bit in the beginning because the last time they had an English lesson, was more than a month. And it was a cool way to introduce the new target language.
     Of course, from now on I've decided to check if they know the meaning of these phrases (most likely not), because while MEXT wants kids to have fun in English, I believe learning a language seriously IS fun. MEXT is just in denial because they're a bunch of grumpy old men who don't read or keep up to date with research.
     So, we check the meaning and then we go into this little chant I made. Pretty predictable so students don't have a hard time with it, and then a game to practice what I just showed them. It's basically telephone, but instead of a big circle, you do it with rows as teams, and the last students say the message one by one. If they are right, they get one point.

     The problem that I'm talking about happened before the game and before the chant when I asked the students "what meaning". This one girl said "what" means なに. (This is 'what' / nani in Japanese.) And this other student who was never paying attention and being totally rude, said:

This means: Of course/As I thought, the foreigner knows.
     But the word foreigner in this instance was used in a very rude way. And second, she's Japanese.
Even I had confused that when I first saw her because of her appearance. She seemed kinda filipina to me, but culturally she's Japanese. That's what I thought. But later I learned through the other teachers that there were no foreign children in grade 3, so I thought "ok. she probably is just the prettier version of Japanese girls. And never needs to worry about getting red under the sun".
     I mean, c'mon. I wish my skin was just a little darker so I would always have this light tan, and don't turn into a pinto bean in the winter. Seriously, they need tanning beds.

     What surprised me first was just that. These are third graders, and their teachers don't relay messages like "everyone is different, and that's ok. We need to be nice to people no matter where they are from. We are all beautiful", etc, etc.

     The homeroom teacher didn't say anything about it either; he was just trying to control all the noisy kids and I don't blame him. They were being completely disrespectful to me and him. If they talk all they time, then they're just wasting time for themselves and their classmates.

     But if IIIIII were him, I would have just stopped it right then and there, made fun of him by saying "やっぱりおまえは知らない" (As I thought you don't know (the answer)), lectured him, and made him apologize to her for being racist and an idiot. But that didn't happen.

     Throughout the whole class, it was very chatty (in a bad way), and they wasted a lot of time. We didn't even get to finish the practice game, and we didn't get to do the second activity.
     I was really disappointed not only for them not respecting me, but because I had witnessed something fly by without scolding.

     So I asked the secretary of the school, if kids learn about multiculturalism or at least the idea that we have to be nice to everyone, regardless where they are from or what they look like. She misunderstood me and talked about how students don't learn any other history other than Japanese history. So I just went straight back to my question, but in a different way. She diverted again, and I returned to the question again. Lastly she said how in Japan there is just 1 culture, so students don't
have the chance to meet people from other cultures. And how basically English class is a window to that opportunity and learn how to communicate. But this is where she is wrong, and again I went back to my intended meaning and said something about how when travelers come to Japan and learn that people here are racist and not nice, they won't like Japan. This in turn hurts the Japanese economy, because no one will want to come and spend their money nor decide to live here and contribute.

     Why should they if they're only going to be treated as second-class and third-class citizens? And then I just said some bullshit like "well, maybe people here will grow up to be nice". Left it at that.

     But here's another issue. She tried to avoid being honest with me and tried to give an answer but I closed the conversation, simply because I was tired of her bullshit and I needed to stay in good terms with this person until March 25th.
     Next, she's like a starting gramma age so I'm not surprised she said this, but I wouldn't be surprised if young people said this also. That Japan is composed of just one culture and one 'race'. Even though race is not a scientific, measurable concept.

     Japan is in fact composed of many cultures, but one culture tends to be the majority just like any other country. You therefore have your minorities, such as the Kyushu people and Ainu whom have mostly been integrated mainly by force into the "Japanese way of life". Then you have your Chinese and Koreans who came here during the war era as construction and factory workers, and other jobs Japanese people didn't want to do. Most have been melted into the mainstream pot in most ways, but what keeps them separated is the fact that Japan recognizes national citizenship from whom your parents are by blood. (Another non-scientific aspect of a country that is supposedly technologically advanced.)

     So for example, if both my parents or one of my parents is a Japanese national "by blood", then so am I. If both my parents are not Japanese by blood, let's say they're from Denmark or some other cool country, then it doesn't matter if I'm born in Japan. My parents are both from Denmark, therefore I cannot have Japanese citizenship. Now, if I MARRY a Japanese person, then I can have a spouse visa and after some time switch my citizenship. But I will still never be recognized as part of the country. Cuz Japanese are anti-strangers in many levels. So you still have plenty of Chinese and Koreans whom are considered Chinese/Korean, and hold these citizenships, regardless of whether they have ever seen/visited China/Korea and regardless whether they know or don't know any other language other than Japanese and any other cultural way of life other than a Japanese one.

     Next you have your nikkeijin and these are basically Japanese farmers who were bombarded with propaganda to go to the Americas like Mexico, Peru, and Brazil (to name some of the biggest ones) because the life there was more promising. And hey, why don't you bring your family with you?
     But after some time they came back to Japan, having the same hope most people have (to make money and have a better situation), but they were met with dissent because these "Japanese" were not seen as "Japanese" anymore. Their culture is different. It's not "Japanese" anymore. 

     Well, what do you expect after living in another country for more that 3 generations and never knowing about your other origins? C'mon people, it's not science, it's common sense.

     They may or may not have Japanese names, and their appearances vary drastically, but they are still treated as "foreigners" and "outsiders" simply because they are not fully Japanese. Something changed and Japanese compute that as something not Japanese. Very childish right?

     Even their children who are BORN AND RAISED in fuckin' Japan are still considered not Japanese, and are treated as foreigners in their school system.

      Who fuckin' cares how much of you is Japanese or not?

     I mean, have you ever seen or met a Japanese person who doesn't like curry?

     I'm just saying, curry isn't a Japanese dish. And neither is tea, buddhism, zen art, building styles, to name a few. C'mon. Fuckin' Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas!.

     You can't tell me that THAT comes from Japan.

     Finally you have your other foreigners who come from other Asian countries for various reasons, like Filipinos, and Vietnamese. And your other foreigners who come from western countries who are basically lumped into 1 big group because apparently we all look the same. 

     Then you have your mixed individuals. Which is another story that boils my temperature too much to talk about it without getting mad simply because it's just stupidity gas being snorted all around this country. 
     If you mix coconuts, pineapples, and bananas in a drink, are you REEEALLY gonna call it a "Coconut Pineapple Banana Drink"?? No.

     You're gonna call it a Piña Colada. You're not gonna say ooooh, these coconuts, pineapples and bananas taste really good. No. You're gonna say waaao this Piña Colada is fuckin' awesome.

     If you mix strawberry milk and chocolate milk. 50% of each. Can your tongue really identify the exact percentage of molecules that are strawberry and chocolate?
     If you saw a cup with 50% water in it, are you gonna see it as half-empty or half-full? That's the problem. You're thinking of it as half from the start, when really the other half is just invisible because you don't want to see it. You already drank it.
     That person is not half-full nor half-empty. It's just a person.

     So you have all these minorities (both in number and power), whose voices are not heard because
Japanese people don't really talk about things. They hold firmly to the strategy of "if you don't talk about it, believe it can't be helped, it'll go away". And if you protest too much, they're gonna take it personal and make it seem like you're insulting them and how you should just leave, when really 'you' are also part of 'them'. They just don't WANT to see it that way.

     Basically, think back to UK and those adorable episodes of 'The Paradise', 'Downtown Abbey', or any other shows like that (which are awesome btw. I would have never believed that today I would be watching shows about brits). But think about that world and how people are not really that emotionally expressive as their American counterparts. Especially to Latin Americans. We're pretty expressive and not shy to shove it up your face. You will get a piece of this awesomeness, that it will make you blind.
     But back to my point.
     Think of that not so emotional character, who follows a lot of etiquette rules and the 'proper' way to do things in daily life. Even how to behave is followed strictly to a certain way, and if you do something outside of that 'way' you'll be too embarrassed to do so. Think of this same character who is watched by everyone, because we know that everyone wants to know everyone elses business. Thus making us even less likely to step out of those boundaries, and more conscious about our weaknesses. Forget about your strengths. There's etiquette to follow right?

     Remember how that was in UK, and in US a long time ago?

     Well, it's not such a long time ago for Japan because that's what it's like today. Even young people and kids often say "i'm too embarrassed to do/say that. It was only about 15 something years ago when women were housewives and get jobs nor attend a university or higher education. 
     Well, many of those women now have to work, so they have lower level jobs because of that lack of education and experience. A university graduate from US would be making twice or 3 times more
than what a used-to-be-housewife makes now. I truly feel sorry for them because they don't know what it's like outside their little cultural box.

     Sure there are some people who are starting to resemble their eastern and western counterparts, but that change is sloooooooow. Imagine that jump in the US from the super puritan-like white families to the hippies. Yea. Japan hasn't gone to the hippie era yet where everyone just says "fuck the system, i just wanna give you a flower man".

     So why don't we do that?
     There's some super inexpensive flowers at dollar stores here. Spread them around and say, fuck the system. I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm not gonna step in your way of destructing this world, because I'll make my own world. You're welcomed anytime. Let's just enjoy our time.

     'Cuz I'm too lazy to take care of real flowers.


HTML Comment Box is loading comments...