Well folks it’s drawing near the close of the first of two very long days. Last week I was asked to help participate in Safety Week at Susaki High School. Safety week basically means teachers take turns being crossing guards with giant flags and neon yellow plastic jackets (plastic so as they may hold in the maximum amount of body heat without allowing any of that nice breeze in to cool one’s quickly drenching upper body). So I awoke a little after 5 to catch the first train into Tosa-shinjo (the station my school is closest to). I stood in day glow yellow, hat, and jacket while cheerily saying, “Ohio Gozaimasu!” to any and all students brave enough to cross at the far side of the street near the giant hairy man.
That being said the rest of my week has been spent largely in preparation for Taiikusai (Sports Day). Taiikusai is one of two culturally culminating events in a high school students life here in Susaki City. While I love my school and realize that the teachers do their best (as all teachers should) to get the students excited about education and learning, Susaki Koko is not what one could accurately call an academic superpower. I have been told on many occasions that most of the students here will not go on to college, but will probably attempt to take the equivilent of the American Civil Service Test. The dreams jobs of most of my students is to be an office employee in one of the many city or municipal buildings in or near Susaki (or any other similarly sized city in Kochi). I can count the number of students who have told me they want to leave Kochi Ken to go to college on one hand. . . they are all young women who want to be computer programmers. Knowing this, what is a student’s typical day like then, you man ask?
Well, up until recently, their days have been consumed with sports club meetings, and classes missed in order to better plan, practice, and talk about Sports Day. Sports Day is an event that happens once every other year. If it isn’t a Sports Day year then is will be a school wide Culture Festival. (I must clarify that this is specifically for my high school not all of Japan). The school is divided up into three teams: red, blue, and (my team) yellow. It is done seemingly arbitrarily based on your homeroom assignment. These teams then must practice many traditional Japanese Sports Day events and make up an 8 to 10 minute cheer that will be judged by the Kocho, Fuku Kocho, and Kyoto Sensei’s of the school (so that’s principal, vice principal, and head of teachers for those Japanese challenged). The students are granted time off of class for these practices, and should it actually rain on Sports Day (heaven forbid) school would be cancelled in order to make room for Sports Day. Needless to say I’m very excited to see this event that has been steeling my students attention and time away from my classes.
More to come, as always.