the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Life

This week I found myself buying yet another "ga junka junku" machine toy (but I got Kurozaki Ichigo!). I've also noticed that I gave two of the toys I didn't like away to friends who have a similar fixation. It's funny the habits you start in Japan.

Monday, January 21, 2008

my worst fear

Today I mentioned to the head of the English Department that we were
coming up on the time we needed to talk to the principal about my
contract renewal. He asked if I had decided yet. (About 3 months ago I
stuck my foot in my foot when he asked if I thought I'd stay, and I
bluntly said no.) He asked if it was only the course load. He said the
course load can be changed without the approval of the principal. He's
been putting off telling the principal because he'd like me to stay.

I didn't know what to say then. I've spent a lot of time thinking about
it (since maybe March), and I'll probably continue thinking about it.
But for the last six months or so I've been leaning towards going home.

And the truth is, the course load isn't it. But the rest is
embarrassing. My worst fear is that I'm not a good teacher, and if so,
this isn't a place where I can improve. But I want to improve. That's
why I desperately want an ESL certificate.

Between me and the two teachers before me, I'm the least qualified of
all. Yet I have been given more responsibility and much more potent
grades than either of the two before me. I feel like I'm not the right
person for the job. I just happened to be in the right place at the
right time.

But even with everything that's wrong here, I'd still love to stay in
Japan. But I know what I'd risk staying here. I've seen it happen to my
friends here. I'll stay here, my friends will leave, my siblings will
get married, I'd stay here where there are a million single women my age
- nearly none of whom I could marry, yada yada. And more than anything
I'd hate to stay here and get tired and worn out doing a job I'm not
qualified for.
But then again I'm always running away from things - maybe that's why I
like travel. :)

On the upside, I never thought I would make the great friends I have. I
never expected to survive this well in a foreign country. I never
expected to be involved in ministry like this.

I'm coming up on the easy part of the year, and I hope I don't forget
how hard the fall term was. I want to finish well, whenever that may be.

...I swear, before he said something tonight I was gonna leave for sure.

Now comes the tough part, ask people who have actually taught with me if
they REALLY think I'm a good teacher.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excerpts from a letter to my Mom

March is one of the seasons here when all the foreigners are deciding if
they will stay or not. Everyone here is already talking about it. My
Japanese teacher actually asked me - in depth - about staying or not and
why. But she is 60 years old, and has lived in Hirosaki her whole life.
With my limited language ability and how different our lives are, it was
hard to express what I was really thinking. But at least she really cares.

M-san. talked about wanting to keep a balance between teaching her kids
Christianity, and having them appreciate/understand their cultural
background - that's a line that's harder to walk than it sounds. I'm
sure she can ask her family, but I'd be willing to help out anyway I can
from here. What I thought of later but didn't say was, probably the best
way to get her kids to get interested in Japanese things is to be an
example use/enjoy them herself. Not that I know anything about
cross-cultural parenting.

One thing I noticed when I got back was that I still love Japan, even
with all it's faults. And there are many - no one experiences that
better than a foreigner. Many people here (at church, at school,
restaurants) seem to want me to stay here for a while. But no one really
stays here because it's just hard. The government makes it hard to stay,
and I'm not sure you'd really want to stay here anyway.

This weekend C-chan and I when to a party hosted by some foreign
teachers I know. The next day we went to karaoke and the arcade with
some Japanese friends. Even though we can both pretty much go either
way, I think we were more at ease with the Japanese friends. It's an odd
feeling, but it's true.

...Those are the things that have been going through my head recently.