We planned to visit the ninja museum in Ueno, but our phones ran hot all morning. We are booked to present a seminar at the Kumamoto Prefectural Half Year Conference - 200 people! Another call was a journalist wanting an interview at 1pm. Thus it was we did not get to watch even a minute of Dave's Special Edition Star Wars box set.
We were interviewed by Ms Ishii of the Ise Shimbun. After hearing the Genki English story she was very candid and told us how, when she was a primary school student, a Canadian ALT visited her primary school, and that the English she had learnt on those occasions was fun. However, she said that junior and senior high were just vocab and grammar - no speaking, and very boring. Then she picked up the tab.
At the Board of Education we were told that "the media are here" - we found 3 newspaper reporters in the seminar room, including Ms
Ishii. The seminar had less participants than we had been told, but the teachers were genki, and embraced the Genki English ideas with gusto. It never ceases to bring a smile to my face when I see two 40 something teachers ultra-competitively vie with their opponent as they play the
Ostrich game. Press camera flashes punctuated our presentations.
50 minutes in we suggested a break for 10 minutes. The break finished and then we were told we only had one hour, and it was already up! A miscommunication - the 4-5 slot was with a private company which had sold Hisai-shi a model syllabus.
We hung around and listened to the teachers commenting on X company and its primary school English curriculum. I am sure the two guys from X company weren't exactly overjoyed to hear several of the teachers say "What we want are hints, suggestions and ideas .....like the ones the Genki English guys just showed us..." We sat quietly, hiding our smiles.
Dave, Richard and I took off to Carmellitas for Mexican. The restaurant was so authentic it even had sombreros and a practice saddle.
Bye to Dave. Long drive to Aichi. Jessica rang at 9.30 ish to ask where we were (still in Mie). We faced two obstacles. One, Route 1 belonged to a multitude of trucks. Two, there were roadworks. Everywhere. We crawled along. We eventually made it to Toyohashi at 2am, but when I looked at the map I
realised that we should have turned back at Okazaki. Totally fatigued I suggested a coffee at Dennys before hitting the road again. Whilst I was munching a small pile of pancakes my phone rang - Jessica had gotten up to to go to the toilet, noticed we hadn't arrived, and called to see where we were. I reassured her that we were safe, a tad off course, and eating hotcakes. She told us we were only 30 minutes away.
We turned around, went to Okazaki and took the turn-off to Nukata. Finding the town was easy. Finding Jessica's house was not so simple - we turned one set of traffic lights early, met a deer, and completed a defacto night tour of the town before eventually orienting ourselves. 4am and we had located the agricultural co-op near her house. We asked an
woman who was sorting out the morning papers.
Jessica had pinned a large card saying "Jessica's house" on her front door. Inside she was sleeping and two futons were laid out in an adjoining room. Still wired from the coffee, I slid under the kotatsu and got stuck into some writing. Richard went to bed. I was still up at 6am when Jessica got up. She greeted me with a 'good morning' as if it were perfectly normal to find a complete stranger sitting in her loungeroom first thing in the morning. We had a cup of tea, shared a bagel and chatted. Jessica is a teacher by profession, has been in Nukata for two and half years and loves it. A Californian, she was indeed laid back - "Make yourself at home" she intoned. At 7.30 am she went off to work and I went to bed.
Opinions expressed in this diary are personal
views of Will Jasprizza. They do not
necessarily represent those of Genki English,
especially where he is slagging people off
or making jokes which sounded better at the
time!!! Please be understanding!
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