Yesterday morning I was up early, eager and nervous, to start my adventure to my school’s (where I work) sister school in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture. Chiba is next to Tokyo and not difficult to get to. Our sister school, Nambu Elementary School, is a primary school and I met the grade 6 teacher, Saeka-san, when she was on an exchange teacher program through Deakin University. She’s super cute, into sake and samurai, and we hit it off immediately when she visited Kallista. So after nearly a year of online communication, we organised for me to come to the school and experience a day in a Japanese school.
It was seriously one of the best experiences I have had while travelling. Her class was amazing, the kids were so friendly and I was made to feel so welcome. Everyone played jyanken, rock, paper, scissors, to see who would sit with me for lunch and there was much excitement over it. I felt like a celebrity.
I had an amazing lunch, cold udon with pickled vegetables on the side, yaki onigiri (fried rice ball) and tempura fish. A piece of sliced and cored apple, frozen and so sweet to finish. The students I was sitting with asked me many questions. Some in English, some in Japanese and some in a mix of both. My answers were the same. Some in Japanese, bits of English and we seemed to understand each other. It was one of those moments when I felt a sense of accomplishment about my language skill.
After lunch I taught everyone how to play 4 square. An Australian game with high bounce balls. Some of the students, many of the girls, presented me with gifts of origami. After lunch break the students do 15 minutes of cleaning. When I say cleaning, I don’t mean like Australian schools where kids pick up a couple of bits of rubbish off the floor. This was serious cleaning. The kids swept and polished the floors, including moving the desks from one end of the room to the other. They clean the bathrooms, the toilets, the corridors. It was a hive of activity as every student in the school was involved in the cleaning.
After the cleaning, it was English class. I sat in the middle of all the students and they stood up in turn and read their compositions in English to me. A welcome to Japan, and what they love about their country. I had to get up and try kendama (a Japanese game where you catch a ball on a string on a platform on a wooden toy). I aced it. The crowd went wild…..
I showed a video message from our grade 3 and 4 students. They asked me a lot of questions about Australia, particularly about sport and then it was home time. It was really such an incredible opportunity. I wish I could share the photos of the kids. They were so cute and lively. I am so lucky to have had this experience and look forward to building the relationship with the Nambu School.