Friday, June 8, 2012


I've been thinking lately about time, for a handful of different reasons.

One is what I am calling "Trial Week." They call it torai-yaru week, with yaru being the verb "to do," and then... maybe to do a try? Anyway, students in their second year here spend one week out in the community doing a job, like a sort of mini internship. They don't have homework or club activities that week, only their job. So in the middle of their JHS timeline they get a whole week of tasting the freedom and drudgery that comes with being out of school. The elementary schools have trail-weekers, as do the kindergartens, so I've hung out with some of the students working over there on Tuesday and Thursday. They're pretty hilarious, and they seem to have a pretty big following amongst the kids. Plus, they (like me) seem to enjoy finding the younger siblings of their classmates, laughing about how alike they look or how cute they are.

So because their absence prevents us from having English classes with them, I spent my second-year's day of the week hanging out and accompanying their other teachers on what seemed like inspection rounds, visiting the various places of work to observe, take some photos, and tell them to keep up the good work. The kids are all working at places you'd expect. Our rounds that day were two grocery stores, Sponic Park, a home and garden store, an electronics factory (!), and lastly (and pretty unexpectedly) a sort of old folks daycare.

That last one caught me off guard because although I guess it's not really so different in concept to have kids working at a nursery school and a nursing home, walking into it was a little startling. It's easy to play with babies. It doesn't feel the same to the sensibilities or something.

But the kids at the old folks' daycare seemed to be doing pretty well. We watched them conduct a game and everyone seemed pretty happy about having them there. The staff said it was because they liked having young people around, liked seeing them there.

Another thing is, I've been thinking about JET succession; someone asked me at the elementary if they've picked my successor. I said they probably have, and once again thought about what it's like to be new, what it might be like to follow a three-year JET. I was almost protesting to myself, the kids only love me because I've been here for three solid years. It doesn't take much to be a rock star in the eyes of the elementary students, but the longer you do it, the better they know your name.

So I started to think, the most important thing we have to give people is our time. It's one thing we stress in the PSG volunteers too. Giving time to the caller. Because everybody is giving their time to something, and sometimes you can feel like all you really need is for someone to give time to you, but you're hesitant to ask because they have so many other, probably more important, worthier places to spend it.

And there are so many places to spend it, so many investment opportunities there.

If you don't have the time to spend on a particular person or thing, that doesn't make you less good, or less caring, you just care more about something else. I don't think everyone should spend three years in Shiso, but I'm glad I did.

Just thinkin'.

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