Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mais Uma Aventura

Konichiwa! I found out that I am going to Nagasaki prefecture in the southern-most island of Kyushu in Japan. I have yet to find out exactly where in Nagasaki prefecture and which grade I will be teaching, but it seems like every week is full of news and emails. I have already bought my plane ticket to fly to Chicago on July 23rd. From Chicago, we fly to Tokyo. The flight to Chicago will be on a little baby planelet, which is an extremely scary mode of transportation. I took a flight from Eau Claire to Minneapolis once about five years ago and told myself that would be the last time. Well, that was a pack of lies.

Anyways, this time, through the gate, I feel like I have a better start than when I left for the Peace Corps. JET has meetings where the new JETs can gather and discuss issues that are important before leaving for Japan and there is even a pre-departure picnic for Minnesota JETs. They are extremely organized and quick to answer questions. In the spirit of Microsoft Excel and my passion for organization and spreadsheets, I have already begun to make a binder of classroom ice-breakers, activities and lesson plans that I hope to find beneficial when I begin to serve as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) to a Japanese Teacher of English (JTE). That’s right. Another organization, a whole new set of acronyms.

I have been staying in contact with my Mozambican host family and some former students. It’s difficult at times because I want to help them out but I am not financially capable. Often, to send packages, the contents cost less than the shipping itself. Overall, you spend at least $80 on a package and that not even guaranteeing that the person you send it to will receive it because of the iffy mail system in Mozambique. Before I left Monapo, I gave one of the kids I was friends with of my laptops. Not long after I had left, his brother passed away. He wanted to help out his parents by selling CDs of burned music. Well, the computer was older and wasn’t capable of burning CDs. I talked with him today and he said “senhora professora, I am asking for help. I would like to know if you would send me another computer because I want to help my parents by selling music CDs.” It was a difficult conversation because in his eyes, I am a rich foreigner and this is a simple request. But he doesn’t see the reality that I have very little money and influence.

Also, in the same phone call, I spoke with another student from Monapo and he said “senhora professora, how come you wrote Teresa and Fabiao letters but you didn’t send me a letter?” You want to talk to everyone and try your best to stay in contact. It’s just not possible to make everyone happy and I appreciate the people who understand that, often, the most I have to offer is a phone call. I wish I could talk to them more often too. Word must have spread quickly that I spoke with those two because about an hour later, I received a phone call from one of my students to tell me his new phone number and to call him. So word must have traveled quickly over there: Senhora Professora Iren is calling people. I have called one of my favorite students and member of my REDES group a few times and each time she was begging for something from me. Namely she wanted me to send her my phone from Mozambique (which I still have for when I eventually return to Africa – my goal). I haven’t called her much since because it’s kind of a drag when half of the conversation is spent begging.

But, onto the next chapter. I will bring my kids’ phone numbers with me to Japan and figure out how to call them from there. I have already started making a packing list of what I want to bring. I am trying to be as conservative in my packing as possible but then I usually need to take that and cut it in half. After having lived abroad for two years, I have a good idea of what things I miss the most and what helps me miss things at home less. I am also bringing gifts for colleagues and officials at the school and I’m torn between a few options. Plus, there is the usual teaching fanfare: my lesson plan ideas, stickers, stamps, etc. I am excited to dive into teaching and get involved with my school. Plus, I get to move into and decorate my own apartment! SO much to look forward to! 31 days and counting!