Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keep Your Rice and Nuts to Yourself

So apparently today is the celebration of Setsubun in the schools on the island. At least in the elementary school. At first I was extremely confused to have students throw peanuts at me but it kinda sorta made sense after the teacher explained why. Setsubun is a Japanese tradition on the first day of spring when you throw beans or nuts at each other as a way of chasing away bad luck. Apparently people shout "get out demons!" and "come in happiness!" while throwing the beans or nuts at each other. I thought it was an interesting tradition. The kids were super excited to get to eat their peanuts at lunch, occasionally stealing some from a classmate`s desk. In my opinion, the pilfering of peanuts completely negated the good luck they were supposed to instill.

Image from:

I am generally against throwing small objects at people. Who knows what could happen. I remember when I was in Girl Scouts and we were learning about Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. And in her story, at her wedding, as people were throwing rice, a grain of it got lodged in her ear and when it was removed, her ear drum was punctured and got infected. She lost hearing in that ear for the rest of her life. Now that is what could go horribly wrong. That may be the only thing I learned in Girl Scouts but let it be a warning to us all. Keep your rice and nuts to yourself.

Image from:

I have one student in that class who whispers everything. Everything. I have never heard this kid raise his voice above a whisper. His name actually means "quiet." I don`t understand if he`s taking his name super literally or what. But he seems to have taken a vow of making it difficult for people to hear him. Every time he talks, I have to pull my hair back and lean in. And he is always wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously? Your mother can make you an intricate bento lunch with specially formed eggs, hot dogs and rice but she can`t make you wear pants to school when it`s a crisp 30 degrees outside?

Every time I go to the elementary school to teach, I eat lunch with the kids and then am assigned a class to play with at recess. I used to be such a recess person when I was little - playing four square and kickball. Now it seems more like a chore and I watch the outside clock as it slowly works its way around to 1:45. The kids just have so much energy and seven times out of ten, the game involves being chased around the playground. It can get pretty tiresome, so by the time 1:30 rolls around, I am usually hiding peacefully behind a tree or disguising myself behind a jungle gym somewhere and just letting the time run out for the last fifteen minutes.

It looks like I am officially re-contracted and I`m looking forward to my second year on the island. I turned in my paperwork the other week and I received my "tentative reappointment notification" today. So there is plenty of time still to throw peanuts at people and learn how to properly camoflauge myself with leaves, mud and other natural earth materials during recess.

Image from:

No comments: