Monday, May 10, 2010

And...I'm Back

I sent in my application and paperwork to the Japan Exchange and Teaching program (JET)the same day I got home from the Peace Corps. Trust me. It was a mad dash to the post office to get that in on time since I needed a few documents from Mozambique in order to apply. I have heard back and I am happy to announce that i will be an assistant language teacher in Japan starting in late July! I am pretty excited about this opportunity. Japan has such a history and beauty. I can't wait to experience a new culture, language and educational system. I imagine that it will be quite different than what I experienced in Mozambique. As an assistant language teacher I will be paired up with a Japanese teacher of English and we will work together to create lesson plans and activities to engage students in learning English. I'm not sure yet as to the age group or what school but I will find that out toward the end of May. Almost every afternoon, I am like a vulture scavenging through my parents' mailbox at the end of the driveway (in case it doesn't arrive electronically.)

It has been nice being back in the United States and being with my family and friends, but I miss Mozambique (respect to nossa terra gloriosa), the friends I made there (Peace Corps friends and Mozambican friends), my independence and having a steady job and endless flow of projects. I miss having a purpose. I love being busy and I'm definitely at a standstill at home. The job market is horrible here, as many people can relate. I am back in Eau Claire and my interests have changed and developed. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are moving backward rather than forward.

I have already started learning some Japanese and it has proven to be far more challenging than Portuguese. I still use Portuguese for phone calls I make to friends and former students in Mozambique, sometimes I speak to the dogs in Portuguese and I read the news online so as to keep the language fresh in my mind. Because it is true that if you don't use it, you lose it. And there is no way I'm losing it after spending that much time and effort trying to learn it. Before I went to Mozambique, I dabbled a bit in Portuguese but never really put the pedal to the metal in terms of learning it. I remember wishing I had really put my best foot forward. So I am taking that experience to heart and hoping to learn as much Japanese as possible because if you are living in a country, you don't want to be that ugly foreigner who just expects everyone to speak English. That's not how you get to know your community.

The JET contract is for a year and if everyone (the JET teacher and school) is happy in the situation, participants are able to extend for up to three years. My master plan after Japan is to go to graduate school on the east coast. I have been researching some schools and have a found a few on the east coast that appeal to me. Working abroad has really peaked my interest in international development and the different areas under that umbrella. Specifically, I am interested in international education and development work concerning women.

Other than my master plan for the future, life in the present has been good to me. I have my family, friends, health and food on my plate. Not all those are on my plate. Literally. Just food. I just thought that I would update to say that I haven't fallen off the grid and that I will continue using this blog in the future to tell you about life in Japan. Now excuse me. I have to go practice using chopsticks that don't have a rubber band around them. You know the type. The kind they give kids to use in restaurants.