Friday, August 14, 2009

Other Shiso JETs

“We didn’t expect to like you so much,” Caitlin said with a shrug. It was a strange compliment, but I smiled.

Although Shiso is not a large town, it has a relative abundance of JETs. It used to be that there were significantly fewer, but a couple years ago, Shiso had an economic boom of some kind and they decided each junior high should have its own JET. This means, I’m not the only white girl in town.
I believe that there are ten JETs here, all told. Two of them are high-school, and the rest of us are junior high. High-school JETs are administrated by the prefectural Board of Ed (like, state), while the junior-high JETs are under the city BOE (at Tokyo orientation, we called ourselves “Muni”s, for municipal). So even though the HS JETs live in our town, we haven’t met them yet, because they’re almost part of a separate organization.

A lot of the JETs are starting their second year (I think their positions were new last year, or the one before). So far, I’ve met six other Americans who will be in my town for the rest of the year. On the whole, they’re a great group, most of whom live in Yamasaki like me. Two girls live in my building, Heke and Caitlin. Lana lives in an apartment sort of removed from the main street, and Miriam lives in a house near Lana. Lee lives in Ichinomiya. The other newbie (not counting our two new HS JETs) is named Ryan, and he lives in Yamasaki somewhere as well.

I get the feeling that my predecessor, Lara, was quite beloved by this cast of JETs. When I met her, I liked Lara immediately. It might have been easier if she weren’t so cool, and if we didn’t have so much in common. No one has yet put any pressure on me to live up to the ways of my predecessor, but now that I’ve spent a little time getting to know her, I’ll be putting it on myself.
Two nights ago, Lara, Caitlin, Heke, Lana, Lee, Ryan, and I all went out to dinner, with the intention of going to karaoke afterward. The place was closed for Obon holiday, though, so we ended up just sort of going our separate ways that night.

Lara and Ryan

Heke and Lara

But then, last night we had more of a girls’ bonding experience. Lara, Caitlin, Heke, Lana, and I all made taco salad and drank wine at Miriam’s house (Miriam, meanwhile, was in the US). We shared stories from our lives and in general had a really great time. Lara has such a great attitude and demeanor; my fellow JETs have a much richer and deeper past experience than I had any right to hope they might. I really think I’m going to make great friends here, which is such a comforting thought. One of the greatest treasures won from my semester in Rome was the friendships and time I spent and all I learned from those I got to know there.

All of these girls left today for a trip to Okinawa. Lara seemed apologetic that I wasn’t going to be included in their four-day vacation, but I just laughed because it’s really great that they all want to go on this farewell trip with her. That’s when Caitlin explained that they didn’t expect to like me so much. I know they’ll have a great time, and I kind of wish I were going along. It makes me feel good to think they already kind of wish I were going along too.
Caitlin left me her key so I could use her internet and water her tomato plants. Hence, my ability to post at all!

But I know there will be other trips. I’ll be setting off on my own tomorrow to go to Himeji and Kobe. Tomorrow night is the welcome new Hyogo JETs beer garden party in Kobe, and apparently it’s just as convenient to take the bus to Himeji, then train to Kobe. Himeji is famous for its old castle, so I’ll be sure to report on that when I return!

1 comment:

  1. They will all grow to love you. You describe Lara as immediately liked, as if this were not also a characteristic you have. :P