Yesterday, I went to the International Day festival at Xaverio Chugakko, a private girl’s school here in Koriyama. Xaverio is actually a Catholic school, begun by a group of Canadian missionaries before I came here. I’m uncertain how strongly religious instruction is stressed at Xaverio, and actually know very little about it. The school does however, have an excellent reputation in the city for English Education. Every year except last, they have taken the city middle school English Speech Contest Prize.
I showed up at 9:30, and was put in a room with all the other foreigners. Then they held a big opening ceremony. Finally they escorted me to a class of first year students (7th graders). The students stood up one by one and introduced themselves, which went something like this: “Hello! My name is Akiko! I like cat! I play table tennis after school! I also like okonomiyaki!” (Okonomiyaki is a fried Korean pancake thing.)
After 20 or so variations on this, I gave my own introduction in roughly the same manner, something I’ve grown accustomed to in my own job. Following this introduction, we broke off into small groups and I was with roughly 8 girls who were supposed to ask me questions and practice English with me. This was to last roughly 1 hour.
After 5 minutes, all the kids had exhausted their questions and vocabulary, so I entertained the girls with silly impersonations of famous Japanese singers, politicians, and comedians. I don’t like to brag, but my group was laughing longer and louder than all the other groups in my class combined! (A special thanks goes out to my father, for teaching me the “finger in your ear, tounge in your cheek” thing). I finally thought of an English game to play, and we did that for the rest of the hour.
I was lucky they were younger, and there was less structure in the class. I felt sorry for the 3rd year students, who had to spend a whole hour talking about global warming and the merits of recycling PET bottles in English. (American readers, imagine doing this in Spanish as an 8th grader).
After this, there was a big closing ceremony, where the school presented a large donation to an orphanage in Rwanda. They gave us a lunch, and then I left.