Fall has arrived in Morioka. The days are getting shorter and much cooler. Some of us pass golden fields of rice on the way to our middle schools or to Iwate University. The farmers are busy harvesting, perhaps partially because another typhoon is predicted to bring heavy rain in our area.
SICE students have settled into their positions as assistant language teachers in the public middle schools here. They spend two and a half days a week at their schools. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see Japanese education from the inside. Here’s a look at SICE ALTs in their classrooms.
Being in the classroom also involves helping individual students during class.
When not in the middle schools the students are taking classes at Iwate University. The new semester began the first of October, so there are various new students in the Japanese classes.
In Japan people talk about autumn being the season for sports, good appetites, and reading. Hopefully, we can enjoy all three.
The University Festival is next weekend. We’re making Rice Crispy Treats to sell. There will be food from all over the world.
We spent 2 days in Kyoto seeing various sites, especially temples and shrines. Then we moved to Osaka and Kobe, where we visited two international schools to explore alternative forms of education in Japan. We experienced a rush hour train ride on our way to the Korean International School. We also explored Kobe’s port area and Chinatown. On our last day we went to see Himeji Castle, which is one of the best kept castles of Japan.
We visited the Korea International School and spent all day there. We cooked some Korean food with one of the high school classes and later participated in an English class for the seventh graders.
We also visited kindergarten classes at the Canadian Academy to see English time for children who entered the school with no English language skills.
That afternoon and the next day we saw some famous sites in the area.
All of us joined two events in the festival of Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. Here are some pictures from the pulling of dashi, or floats, first around selected neighborhoods and then in the evening parade. It was about a 9 hour event for us! First we had to put on our tabi socks and zori sandals along with happi coats and special hats designed for our float. After eating a lunchbox with other members of our group, we began pulling. Elementary school children played drums and chanted and we wandered the streets. In the evening, our float lit up, and all the floats and fire-fighters band entertained the people of Morioka. It was a fun, but exhausting, day!
On Sunday the E-Club sponsored a barbeque in the mountains near Morioka. The SICE students, Morioka assistant language teachers (MALT), host families, and members of the E-Club enjoyed great food and fun games. Thank you, E-Club!!
Last Friday through Sunday we visited the village of Tanohata, which is on the coast. First we listened to a lecture about the Tsunami of March 11, 2011. After seeing some of the tsunami damage and appreciating the beautiful view of the coastal cliffs, we joined a Waseda University club called “Forest Club.”
The SICE students spent the weekend participating in club activities. They camped in a big cabin in “The Forest of Meditation” and learned forestry management. There were plenty of other activities, too. The president of Waseda University came for a visit. We got to meet the host family of the first SICE leader. And, fun was had with local school children.
The SICE 2014 students arrived safely and have finished orientation. It was a very wet first few days, but today we are seeing our first real sunshine. We had a successful opening ceremony this morning. The students gave self introductions in Japanese, and although there was some stumbling, they all did a great job. The schedule for this weekend is settling in at host family homes and learning the geography of both individual neighborhoods and Morioka as a whole. On Monday, each student will make her/his way to Iwate University and begin classes. The next day is the first day at one of the public middle schools. SICE is under way!