Random Observations as of Late #5

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A stack of essays waiting for me to grade them..

– So, every week I do these reports about my school visits. These reports include a cultural observation section that can be anything I want to write about. Last week’s report was about the sempai-kouhai system in Japan. I wrote the following:

Basically, age hierarchy is an essential element of Japanese society. It really has to do with how you relate to people older or younger than you, especially at schools and in the workplace. If someone has more experience or is older than you, they are your sempai. If someone is younger than you or has less experience in an area, they are your kouhai. Because I am a foreigner, new to Hirosaki, and 24 years old, I am pretty much a kouhai in every situation. I guess I am the “low man on the totem pole (下っ端).”

Well, this report was translated by my supervisor and distributed for everyone else to read, as always. When the report reached my section manager, he turned to me and said, “ステイシー、Low Man On The Totem Poleじゃない。” Which is basically, “You’re not the ‘low man on the totem pole’.” I felt pretty validated at that point.

– I so very much wish that I could listen to music at work. My iPod would make things go by so much faster, I think. And maybe it would help me tune out all the other noise and concentrate too.

– I need a haircut. The ends are crazy and need to be cleaned up. I still want to keep my hair long for now. I quite like it long.

– Recently, I discovered something very wonderful in the bathrooms of my office building. You all know my irritation with the women who flush the toilet several times in order to mask the sound of them going to the bathroom. Well, they installed the Oto-Hime machines in the bathrooms! This means that I no longer have to listen to the Japanese women in my office building waste gallons and gallons of water just because they are embarrassed to use the bathroom at the same time as another person. Thank GOODNESS!

– Last week there was an 8-day stretch where I did not go into the office because I was teaching every single day. So I hadn’t been to the office or seen my co-workers for 8 days! When I finally returned, I was welcomed back warmly with smiles. I sat down, organized my things, and ate my lunch (since it was 12pm and I had just come from a school visit). But then my supervisor told me that all of my co-workers would be leaving in the afternoon on official business. “No!” I said. “Don’t leave me alone!” Then they asked me if I wanted to come with them. Of course I said yes. So that is the story of how I was able to escape from the office one Thursday afternoon in order to go organize textbooks at an elementary school a couple towns over.

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– Last Monday after I was done with teaching in Owani, my friend’s husband came to pick me up from the school with his car. He drove me back to their house and we hung out for the rest of the afternoon/evening. They live next to an elementary school, so I was able to go watch the elementary school baseball club practice. They are SO good. And when I stepped onto the side of the field to watch them play, they all called in surprise: “Stacy-sensei!” and took off their baseball caps and bowed to me. It was so cute.

Here is a picture of the dinner that my friend made. It was amazing. I hadn’t had a real sit-down dinner in a while, so this was much appreciated.

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– I am leaving the country in less than a month. Wow. I can’t believe it. I am going back to Texas. Come to think of it, visiting Texas in the summer has always been a tradition of mine. Ever since my family moved to Minnesota, I’ve been making the pilgrimage back to Austin in the summers. Summer 2004, Summer 2005, Summer 2006, Summer 2007… I skipped Summer 2008 because I was still studying in Japan at that point. But then I made up for it in Summer 2009. I flew there twice and then I moved back to live there for two years. So, in keeping with tradition… I am going back to Texas, Summer 2012.

I talked to my mom and it looks like I won’t be able to see my parents after all. They won’t be flying down to see me or anything. My dad starts his new job on July 1st and they are also saving their money for other trips later on in the summer/fall, so that’s okay. I miss them so-so-so much, but that’s the way things are. I also won’t be able to see my siblings either, since they will both be working in Minnesota.

– Speaking of siblings, my sister starts college in the fall at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. This is also where I went to college! It is a wonderful place full of smart people and nature. I am praying that she will thrive there. And hopefully she will get to take a class with one of my former professors!

– The Tsugaru-area dialect competition for foreigners was yesterday and I went! I even put on a dress and heels for the event, which happens just about every blue moon. The skits were pretty funny and I was impressed with some JETs Japanese ability. Tori and Kimberly performed their Tahitian dance routines while the judges were deliberating… They were amazing. I always love watching hula/Tahitian/Pacific Islander dance. I recently uncovered some photos of me at hula practice in college, so this was like a blast from the past.

Well, I think that is enough for now!

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2 Comments to “Random Observations as of Late #5”

  1. Always a pleasure to read. Amazing luck you had your first day back in the office – you didn’t have to stay alone! You will be in our hearts when you are in Austin because you know there is no place on earth we would rather be! Enjoy yourself and have a ton of fun!

  2. Reblogged this on Japan Rebloged and commented:
    Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan.
    She seems to teach in many schools around Tsugaru area.

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