Friday, March 5, 2010

Visiting Japanese School

This is perhaps one of the best experience I have had during my time in Japan - visiting Japanese school.
I have visited other technical colleges and universities in Japan before this, but never have I stepped into any elementary or junior high schools in Japan; so it wasn't surprising that I was really excited when I got to know I get to visit Aobadai Junior High School late last month. This program, known as 世界が先生 (Sekai-ga Sensei), is a part of the Cross-Cultural Learning Project (国際人育成事業) organised by the International Affairs Division of Nagaoka City Office. Basically, they invite the international students and foreigners living in Nagaoka to visit these schools, and introduce the culture, history, and customs of their respective countries to the school kids.
青葉台中学校 (Aobadai Junior High School).
I gotta personally thank Miss Ogawa Yuka for selecting me to join this program at such a last minute, as you might be aware that I will be leaving Nagaoka very soon. So, about two months back, I e-mailed her and inquired if there is any opening from the local schools. Several days later, she replied me and told me the good news that there is this school who wished to have a few international students at their school.
Historically, Aobadai Junior High School isn't a very old school; it was first established in 1985 and now, it has about 250 students comprising of nine classes. Mr Oguma, one of the staff from Nagaoka City Office, picked me up from my kosen and we were later joined by another girl from China. From there, we headed straight to the school.
A small message on the mini blackboard, welcoming us to the school.
Upon reaching the school, we headed to the principals office, to get a briefing from the teacher who was in-charge of this event.
Apparently, the principal wasn't around, so he sent his replacements, Mr Nezu Hiroshi (vice principal) and Mr Sasaki (one of the class teacher of the first grade) to welcome us. While waiting in the room before we went to meet the kids, we were served with coffee and had some chit chatting sessions together. When I asked him, at least Mr Nezu knows the existence of Malaysia, and its location. He has been to Singapore, but not Malaysia.
Mr Nezu explained that the kids, who are in the first grade (13-years-old) might take some time to warm-up, and are usually shy to ask questions while we talk in front. However, once the event is over, every one will come to us with millions of questions haha!
Principal's office. It used to be a scary place when I was in my primary years. Everybody had this image that whoever who was called into that room would kena rotan for sure lol!
List of past and present principals, and monthly schedule on the blackboard.

Personally, I would have preferred to go to an elementary school because the kids are younger and they wouldn't be so afraid and it's easier for them to get close to us foreigners. That however, doesn't matter me much because I just know the techniques to get close to kids.
The next thing you gonna think of me is that I'm a paedophile, right? =.=
Yea, I am such a paedophile that I smiled so wide like a hippo when I saw these kids lol!
Before going to this school, I did my homework beforehand because I didn't want to be embarrassed by the kids' questions. Nothing too much, just some basic information about Malaysia, like its total area, population, and the capital. I know it's Kuala Lumpur, but who knows, I am such a forgetful person that I might forget what's the capital of Malaysia in font of the kids haha!
But anyway, it didn't fret me out much, because I have made a back-up plan, just in case I got a question that I wasn't sure of its answer. The escape route out - I will just make out something to cover myself. After all, I don't think anyone of them has ever been to Malaysia haha!
Look properly, this is Malaysia!
So, I started off with a slide presentation, in which I gave a brief introduction about Malaysia. Not surprising to see most of them looked confused and clueless in their collective little faces when I asked them about the location of Malaysia. Most of them have heard of the name of the country before, but they never knew its location. They know where Bangkok and Singapore are situated, but they have no idea where is the location of Malaysia =.=
I know it is a sad tale, that is why I am there to let them know a bit about Malaysia. At least it won't be something alien to them anymore the next time they hear the word "Malaysia".
Showing them the various places of worships in Malaysia.
When it came to the language part, I explained that most Malaysians can speak two languages at the least. Then, I started to count the number of languages I can speak with my fingers, one by one, slowly. Yea-lah, just purposely wanna lansi a bit in front of them haha wtf! After I finished counting and mentioned that I can speak four languages, they go "woooooowwwww!!!" haha! By they, I mean everyone in the library, including the teachers.
I know being able to speak four languages is something very common among Malaysians, but for the Japanese who hardly speak more than a language, it is something amazing and they will look up at you as if you're God lol!
Nice to see them having interest at what I was talking in front and jotting down notes.
I bet there is hardly any Malaysian who has ever copied the Jawi writing on the ten-ringgit note, like what this boy did.
So, after I was done with the slide presentation, I let the kids to have a short Q&A session, anything regarding Malaysia. I was expecting questions like what's the tallest mountain in Malaysia, how many floors are there in the Petronas Twin Towers, or who is the current Prime Minister of Malaysia. They looked quite shy at first to ask, but then I finally got one little boy, seated in the last row, who raised his hand to ask me the very first question. His eyes was blinking with intense curiosity when he asked me this question:
"Are all Malaysians as tall as you?"
I sighed at the beauty of their young and innocent heart. For a brief moment, I thought whether I should be honest to them or not with my answer. So, my reply to him was, "Yeah, of course. Malaysians are not like you guys, ketot and short-short one!"
Looking into my magic bag to take out some interesting stuff to show them.
They were awed by the colourfulness when I showed them the Malaysian flag. Yea-lah, Japanese flag only got one red dot in the middle. Boring, right?
Poor little boy hahaha! But of course I didn't do that-lah. The principal might just kick me out immediately if I do that lol! When that boy asked me that question, I burst into laughter straight away because I was unable to tahan his unexpectedly cute question. But I know if I continued laughing non-stop, he might get offended and thought that I was making fun of his question. So, I calmed down and told him the truth lol! Nevertheless, it was much fun to be asked such questions, instead of those standard, boring questions.
One boy asked me if Malaysian fruits are oishii; one of the teacher was curious if the writing used in Bahasa Malaysia is the same as the one used in Jawi; and lastly, one boy asked me to teach them simple greetings in local languages.
Showing them some tropical fruits. However, most of them only recognised durian.
I kinda made a quiz for them, testing them to see if they remember the greetings in Malay language, since I have explained to them during the slide session earlier. Some remembered, some didn't. But the thing that amazed me is that they knew the greetings that I didn't teach them in the slide show. I wrote こんにちは (konnichiwa) on the blackboard and immediately, I heard the phrase "Apa Khabar" from a girl.
I was quite surprised to hear that. Apparently, some of them had done some homework earlier.
Cutting colour papers into strips.
The next session was to show them some simple hand-crafts from Malaysia. A few days before I went to that school, I tried to brain-storm of what should I pick to make with the kids, because of the time factor; I had only like fifteen minutes to do that. Thanks to Mei Chiao's idea, I decided to make anyaman with them.
Doesn't it remind you of the memories from the olden days during Pendidikan Seni classes?
Showing them how the paper is folded correctly.
They seemed to be interested with this anyaman thingy, which pleased me.
"Cut the paper this way, alright?"
"And after a while, tada! You will get these!"
Just like the kids back home, I can generally divide the kids into two groups - the ones who were interested and put their best effort into this craft thing, and another one who were basically in their own world, doing something else. There is this group, who was seated at one corner behind the library, who used the colour paper to make paper planes instead haha wtf!
Not surprising to mention here that they were the boys' group haha!
They seemed to be enjoying the time.
But not this girl haha!
To save time, I made them to come to the front and showed them how anyaman is done.
And the teacher showed them the samples, which I made earlier.

When everything was over and I was about to leave the library, one group of girl came to me. Guess what they want from me? They asked for my autographs. Suddenly, I felt like an overnight celebrity haha! I happily fulfilled their request and gave them my autograph. All this while, I thought my signature is only valuable when I'm filling forms haha!
Remember that I took genuine ringgit notes to show to the kids earlier? Then, something bad and unexpected happened at the end of the session with the second group of kids. I noticed that one of my notes went missing. It was the second largest denomination - the fifty ringgit note. The teachers and I tried looking all over the library, underneath the desks and in between the papers in the files, but we couldn't locate that note.
Mr Sasaki told me not to worry because he would try his best to get it back, and to be honest, I wasn't really worried because this is Japan, not Malaysia. If this happens in Malaysia, you can just forget about getting the note back.
In Japan, this is a common sight - cleaning the floor using a piece of cloth, instead of a mop.
Took a picture with the vice-principal and a few of the kids.
We returned to the principal's office after that and had some final few exchanges with the vice-principal, who was very pleased with our visit to the school. He took out the English and Maths textbooks because he wanted to compare the level of both subjects with what we are learning in Malaysia and China. The verdict, the level taught in Japan is lacking behind both countries, especially in English. It was during that time that Mr Sasaki came into the room with my fifty-ringgit note. Apparently, it was misplaced in between one of the files. So, the case was solved.
By the way, just before I walked out of the library, one of them walked to me and wanted to compared his height with mine.
Ooguchi-khun who wanted to have a picture with me.
I think we look alike, but totally different when it comes to our height haha!


CLF said...

the kid's name is "big mouth" 大口? lol.
pendidikan seni, aiks....

Kae Vin said...

wah good teacher.

and four languages only? I thought you can speak Malay, English, Mandarin, Japanese and Hokkien?

mg said...

so cute, u can b a school teacher. lol

calvin said...

@ clf:
haha, you're really observant, eh?
i never thought of that lol! maybe you noticed that when you pronounce it in chinese ;)

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
perhaps i should switch my field, from engineering to education. after all, both of them are related to each other, since they start with the letter 'E' haha!

actually, i know more than (which is debatable haha) four languages, but i could make them super duper surprised if i tell them that i know so many languages lol!

and by the way, hokkien is a dialect, so i don't think it's considered ;)

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
let me make some corrections; a kindergarten teacher would be more appropriate lol!

Robinn T said...

haha i would have said 5 if i were you...not to forget cantonese~ that would make it six.. imagine all the sugoi going on when you said that and its like, :" yea worship me kids.. its not everyday you can see a person who can speak 6 languages~" haha.. ooguchi-kun? haha he do resembles you a lot! give him sometime to grow man~ 大口君でしょうか?

calvin said...

@ tempus:
my cantonese isn't that strong enough that i don't think i can make it six. but if you accept that being able to talk just a few words of a language is already considered being able to speak a particular language, then i would say i can speak more than ten languages, including thai, indonesian, cantonese, hakka, german, singalese, french, spanish, and many more haha!

yeah, ooguchi-khun looks so similar to me. who knows he might grow to a huge guy like me too xD

Robinn T said...

owh i realised ooguchi-kun look like harry potter!!!!

calvin said...

@ tempus:
spot on! no wonder he has such a familiar look.
he should change his specs and people might mistaken him for harry potter xD