A move!

30 09 2010

My blog has moved. If haven’t gotten the new link via email, please comment on this (and I should be able to see your email) and send you the link.


For all you bloggers

29 09 2010

I think that getting everyone in the world clean water is a very difficult goal, but a very worthwhile one.

UNICEF and some other organizations are having a “Blog Action Day” on October 15. Join myself and lots of other bloggers in blogging about it and helping raise awareness about the cause.

Info/petition here

Where’d the Oregonian go?

23 08 2010

This morning I woke up and it was grey outside. We’ve had a lot of grey days recently, so I assume it will warm up. At my junior high (where I was today), they are doing construction and rarely open the windows. I choose light clothes, to keep from overheating, while sitting in the stuffy staffroom. Once ready, I grab my bag, slip on my flip-flops and take off for school on my bike.

I have one class over the course of the day, so I spend my day trying to book a flight home, studying Japanese and chatting with friends.

As I walk to the second year room for lunch, I realize it’s pouring and decide my best course of action is to hope it will let up before 4:30, when I get to head home.

Slowly the minutes tick by. I am working on an email when 4:30 rolls around. I say goodbye to the friends I’m chatting with and the teachers who are actually in the staffroom at that time (many are out doing things with the students).

When I get to the genkan, where we change our shoes as we come in or out, I stand there for a minute, just stare at the rain, and laugh. I’m an Oregonian, I should have known better, right? Why did I think the rain would hold off as the weather forecast said? (Probably because it didn’t come at all this weekend).

As I’m standing there, Kanayama-san, our janitor walks up and asks if I have an umbrella. I shake my head no and mention that I have no jacket either, thinking still about how I should have known better. He smiles and hands me an umbrella. I ask if it’s ok and he says it is.

As I reach my hand into the box labeled with レベッカ (Rebecca), I remember that I wore flip-flops that morning. I slowly switch my shoes, thinking of how wet I’m about to get and head outside to realize this is going to be my first-ever umbrella bike ride.

By the time I get to the bike shelter across the parking lot, I’ve avoided a few puddles and watched a few students go running to or from the building in rain suits. “They were prepared,” I think.

The bike shelter surprises me, when I arrive, because it has a good inch of water or so on the ground that I have to wade through to get to my bike. Getting a bike out with one hand on an umbrella is much more complicated than I expect, but I get the bike out with minimal water on the seat and only slightly wet toes.

As I ride across the parking lot, I realize that it’s not as hard as I thought it would have been (especially considering I was trying to text and bike ride the other day). Holding the umbrella out in the wind, so that I can still see is the most difficult part.

Very quickly, I realize that hurrying home on my bike with the wind in my face and an umbrella in hand is a bad idea and will likely cause a gaijin-bicycle scramble (gaijin = foreigner). Thinking about how crazy this is and that I’d never have attempted it at home, I spend the whole ride home laughing. I begin laughing even harder when I realize that the umbrella helped me avoid a shower that included my head, but very much didn’t prevent the rest of my body from being soaked.

Weather forecast

4 08 2010

Tomorrow it looks like we’ll have 80 (27c) weather, with snow. How is that going to work, google?


3 08 2010

“A Christian in many American circles, for example, means ‘right-wing, gun-toting fanatic who hates Democrats.’ As such, a pacifist Democrat who called himself a Christian in those circles, would be lying, albeit unwittingly. To most of this world, America is Christian, just as to most Americans being an Arab means being a Muslim. Both labels have only limited usefulness.

I have been called a Christian writer, but I’m not a right-wing, gun-toting fanatic who hates Democrats, not by a long shot. So am I a Christian? Yes and no – it depends on what Christian means to you. . . But labels are almost impossible to shed.” (Ted Dekker, Tea with Hezbollah).

Two things stick out to me in this part of the book (which I’m reading online through the library).

1. How do you define Christian? What does it mean? Maybe I’m not a Christian if you follow the definition that Dekker gives above. If not, what am I? I believe in Christ and aim to understand and follow his word. What does that make me?

2. “Labels are almost impossible to shed.” What labels have I given people? Am I aiming to see beyond people’s labels or am I reinforcing them?

One year

2 08 2010

As I write this, I have now completed a full year in Japan. I can’t believe it has been one year today since I arrived in Japan.

Ros, Heather and I celebrated by taking the day off and exploring the town where Ros (pronounced Roz) lives. We slept in (still catching up from HEC camp), went out for lunch, tried lots of omiyage (sweets to return with and share with those who didn’t go on a trip with you), had cake at an amazing bakery in Ros’ town. It was great.

What has happened over the last year?

  • My Japanese has improved. I’m now studying for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) New 4. I can keep up with simple conversation and can read most simple things.
  • Made some amazing friends who have come from all over the world to teach in Japan.
  • Still working on making good friends in town and am slowly making more and more friends.
  • Gotten to use my teaching skills to teach a few times and have had the chance to be a human tape recorder even more. Also, have been frustrated lots of times by the state of English teaching in Japan.
  • I’m learning more and more ways to cook with the ingredients I can actually find here.
  • Lots of chances to see Hokkaido and parts of Japan.
  • Started a master’s class, which I should be able to use to renew my Oregon teaching license.
  • Successfully lived on my own for a year. Boy do I miss my family and roommates.
  • Took the test twice and got my Japanese drivers license.
  • Taught an English class for grown-ups
  • Learned to snowboard
  • Tried skiing
  • Drove on snow for the first time
  • Joined a choir
  • Ate Natto
  • Paid off my small student loan

I’ve done lots of other things not included in this list. Keep reading my blog to see what other things happen in my time in Japan :)

A BOE day

15 07 2010

I always hear about ALTs who have to go and sit at their BOE and don’t have anything to do, they spend their days looking for random things to fill their time (I do this often enough at my high school). Next week my school has holidays that I don’t get (I’m not going to the school festival this weekend), my supervisor has said come to the BOE (Board of Education) on Tuesday and Wednesday, when you’re not visiting schools (elementary visits in the middle of the day.

Like a little kid who has never experienced homework, but sees their older siblings doing it, I’m a bit excited to spend a day in my BOE (I will have class visits) and see what happens inside of the BOE. Maybe I’ll make some new friends there.