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School Stories: Part Two

July 24, 2012

Several things have happened the past couple of days and will happen over the next few days, so I’m working on getting caught up with that. However, here are five more stories from my experience as an English teacher in my six elementary schools!

FES2 — This is from my 1st week teaching. I ate lunch with the 5th grade class, and one boy was so concerned that I wasn’t getting enough to eat (since I bring a lunchbox) that he went to the homeroom teacher and talked to her. Together they brought me a dish of some of the extra veggies from the school lunch, which I thought was was adorable. I made sure to eat them all so he’d know I had enough food!

TES — May 1st. I had a girl in one of my 5th grade classes pick me up… Literally. As I was packing up my things she somehow get behind me and before I knew it her arms were around my middle and I was up in the air! I was so surprised that all I could say was “Whoa! You’re strong!”

MES — June 18th. One of my 5th grade teachers gave me a plastic bag absolutely filled with vegetables. There were eggplants, green peppers, and a single pumpkin. He laughed when he saw my face at the sheer amount and said it was okay to pull out what I thought I wouldn’t be able to cook up and eat in time before they go bad. I ended up taking the green peppers and half the eggplants. As much as I wanted the pumpkin, I had no idea how to properly cook it without wasting it, so I left that for someone else to eat.

WES — June 13th. At my Wednesday school I sometimes do a teacher’s training after school with the teachers where we all gather in the teacher’s room and I teach them a game or a song in English for them to use with their students. Today I taught the teachers “Row Row Row Your Boat” and “Ten Little Witches” (it’s Ten Little Indians, but since that isn’t really very polite it’s changed from “Indians” to “witches”). I told them there would be a test next week where they would have to sing “Ten Little Witches.” It’s pretty fun having a bunch of Japanese teachers try singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” in rounds. We got up to four individual groups singing the round! It was really funny. The best part was that my principal was the one who was the most enthusiastic about singing the songs, even though it seems like he’s a little tone deaf. Afterwards, one of the head teachers came up to me with paper in hand. He then proceeded to sing the Star Spangled Banner to me, completely in English! He needed no prompting, and he wasn’t continuing a previous conversation we had. Nope. Just started singing the Star Spangled Banner. I was very amused and confused. It turned out that the sheet of paper he was holding had the lyrics to the song in English, with pronunciations written in Japanese above each word. Below that was a section where the content of the lyrics were translated into Japanese. The teacher told me that he made the handout a few years ago, because he had his students learn it. How neat is that? He made a photocopy of his handout and gave it to me, which I’m taking as a hint.

THES — June 14th. Thursday after school I had some of my teachers come up to me in the teacher’s room and ask me, “Carolyn, what does 「お疲れ様でした」(otsukaresamadeshita) mean in English?” To give you some background, when you leave your workplace in Japan, you must say 「お先に失礼します」(osaki ni shitsureishimasu), meaning something like, “I’m sorry but I’m leaving ahead of you.” And the reply to that is 「お疲れ様でした」(otsukaresamadeshita), which I usually translate to “You have honorably exhausted yourself.” So, I give my teachers that translation, and we all marvel about how many words it takes in English to describe that one word in Japanese. We also talked about what Americans say when they leave work. They also wanted me to write down the English for that phrase, which they also exclaimed over because they couldn’t figure out how and why “honorably” was spelled the way it is. Eventually it came time for me to leave, and so I said my usual 「お先に失礼します」(osaki ni shitsureishimasu), to which they all replied as best as they could, “YOU HAVE HONORABLY EXHAUSTED YOURSELF.” We all burst out laughing after that.

And there you have it! Five more school stories.

Before ending the post, I would like to stop and wish a Happy Birthday to my Grandma Alberg! Grandma, you have no idea how much I want to eat some of your snow pudding right now. Thank you so much for being one of my biggest fans. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I hope that your day is extra special this year!


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