Cleaning Music, Koalas And No Candy: What Happened This Week

October 23, 2009

– At the end of every school day, the students engage in “cleaning time.” In a sly move that removes janitors from the school environment, the kids clean up everything in the school, from their classrooms to the hallways. It’s a very cute sight. The school I visited this week, however, gives the students an added treat…one driving me bonkers. They play music over the school’s PA system during the cleaning period. Tragically, they play the same songs, in the exact same order, everyday. It starts off with some generic J-Pop joint, moves over to a tune sounding like the Backstreet Boys doing a Sandals commercial, jumps to a slow ballad, then dives into the Buzzer Beat theme track. I’m glad the kids get to listen to something during this…but couldn’t they switch it up just a tiny bit? I’d settle for “Party In The U.S.A.” at this point.

– I work in an office full of semi-Yankees fans. The Matsui tins sits behind me, the Yankees handbag in front of me and I’ve seen some pinstriped pencils floating around. Considering a certain sporting event happening at the moment, this week has felt somewhat claustrophobic.

– The third-year students this week wrote essays about where in the world they want to visit. A lot wanted to visit Italy (“I want to eat a pizza and a paste”) and France (“I want to eat bread”), but the big winner was Australia. Nearly all the students who wrote about visiting the outback wanted to go because they might have a chance at meeting a cuddly koala. “Koalas are the cutest animals” and “I want to meet and touch a koala” stood out as especially awesome quotes. And being the cute animal enthusiast I am, told them they did great. On the opposite end of the cuteness spectrum, one kid wanted to visit the North Pole so he “could see the wild seal and then eat them.” He even offered up a description of what he’s been told seal tastes like.

– Because I’m an idiot, I made a glaring typo on a Halloween worksheet I prepared for the second-year students. They had to listen to me talk and fill in the blanks on their sheet, but for one part I wrote the answer (“apples) right next to the blank. Instead of take the five minutes necessary to fix and print out new worksheets, I instead inserted an adjective into the blank space. The word I chose was “yummy.” This word fascinated the kids…it sounds hilarious and offered a jolt of excitement in the middle of a rather boring activity. The moral here – sometimes mistakes lead to great stuff! Even if you have to explain why the “an” before the blank shouldn’t be there.

-My big assignment for the week – come up with a lesson on Halloween for the first-year students. And I did not blow it off – I took this one seriously and thought it out all week long, even staying up until midnight (late for a work night) drawing out what to do. I only received 20 minutes to spread the gospel of Halloween to the children of Nabari, but I’d make them a damn good 20 because I’m a big Halloween fan.

The day of the class comes and I’ve got everything ready. Pictures of pumpkins and mummies, a Bingo game and a plastic pumpkin bucket-thing jammed with candy. I even wore black pants and an orange shirt because I wanted to showcase Halloween colors/am a huge dweeb. Lesson starts…and the kids seem to like it! They love my pictures, they laugh at my wardrobe and even have a short discussion on the state of Pokemon after I showed them the picture of Pickachu carved into a pumpkin. Then came the centerpiece of my lesson – the trick-or-treat simulation. I planned on having small groups of students come up and pretend to trick-or-treat. I even planned on giving them a piece of candy.

Then I found out you aren’t allowed to give Japanese students sweets.

Japan, I thought you were cool. Classes here seem much more relaxed than back in America…students can doze off or talk or, in some cases, walk around. But they can’t get a fun sized piece of candy for Halloween (errrr, Halloween lesson)? LAME. It’s not like Japan is Mississippi and morbidly obese…these kids spend an hour playing soccer before school even starts. Lighten up Japan, let the kids enjoy a Three Musketeers bar for the first time.

Anyway, I adjust accordingly for the next class, replacing candy with Halloween stickers. And much to the credit of the students, when I ran out of stickers the students actually shared with one another. This was a quite welcome sight, considering the school I worked at in America featured students who considered sharing anything they got as the ultimate sin (the kids loved Obama, but acted like amazing Republicans). So my lesson still ended up being pretty good.

Except now I have a pumpkin full of candy I will surely eat entirely myself.

(Japanese Fun Fact #26: Burger King only exists in the greater Tokyo area. None exist out here in Kansai country. I learned this today after reading an article about this monstrosity:

Now we've gone and done it

Now we've gone and done it

The worst part of this foodstuff somehow isn’t the fact it’s seven Whopper patties stacked on one another. No, it’s the fact it’s advertising Windows 7. Something about branding a burger after an operating system seems so amazingly stupid I’m not even sure exactly why it confuses me so much. I think it has to do with the classic high school argument “PC vs. Mac” and how terrible talking about operating systems is.

I still want to eat this, in case you were wondering. And it only costs like $8! That’s revolting!)

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2 Responses to “Cleaning Music, Koalas And No Candy: What Happened This Week”

  1. Dagny said

    OMG heart of darkness returns! i hope there are photos when you do!

  2. Jonathan said

    Yeah, they play the same two songs for cleaning time. The first is a symphonic version of Amazing Grace. It kept haunting me why it sounded so familiar (I’m used to the choral version with people singing, or the bagpipe version–thank you Braveheart).

    I had to use the Shazaam iPhone application to identify it (get it if you don’t have it already). They also play Beethoven’s 5th.

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