Friday, February 15, 2008

Kids Ask the Darndest Things!

I'm always a little apprehensive before an elementary school visit, but once I'm at the school, I usually have a great time.

Sanbongi Elementary School is probably my favourite school. The kids are always genki (energetic, cheerful) and excited to be with me; it's the one school where I get the "rock star" treatment, i.e. kids ask me to sign their notebooks and things.

So today I was teaching the fifth graders at Sanbongi ES and it was my first time meeting them, so I did my self-introduction followed by a time for questions. One of the classes came up with a lot of amusing questions. Well, I guess the individual questions weren't really that funny, but together they totally made me smile:

- Are you married? (This is all in Japanese, of course.)
- What type of person do you like?
- Do you have a boyfriend?
- Do you plan to get married?
- Do you want to get married?
(The last two were asked by the same student. =P)

One student asked me about famous Canadians (I NEVER know how to answer this one, especially since it's always elementary kids who ask it!) and the only person I could think of that they might know was "Avril Lavigne." They misheard me, though, and thought I said "afro." I corrected them, of course, and we all had a good laugh.

Then a couple of minutes (maybe 10 questions) later, as the final question of the class, a student asked: "Since you have long hair, have you ever had an afro?" =P

That was probably the best question I've ever been asked during a self-introduction. ^_^

On a somewhat related note, I had a bit of a chuckle over the answers some of my second grade students at Kirita gave to the question: "What's your type?"

In Japanese, "ogenki desu ka" is roughly equivalent to "How are you?" and "genki desu" is "I'm fine." So in this context, genki in English is "fine," but in general the translation of genki would be more along the lines of "energetic" or "cheerful." Well, my students didn't really know this, so when they were answering the question "What's your type?" a couple of them said things like: "Kind and fine."

My JTE thought it was a bit funny because it was as if they were saying they like healthy/sound-bodied people, but I was thought it was amusing because they were trying not to be superficial but they didn't realize that "fine" is slang for "good looking" or "sexy."

That whole discussion on "types" was interesting too because the last boy (out of three in the grade) to answer the question came straight out and said he liked "cute" girls. Of course there was some ribbing about that to which he responded that the other guys' answers--"kind," "cheerful" &etc.--were "strange" (henna) and not really truthful.

A Happy Valentine's Day

As a happily single person, I could usually care less about Valentine's Day, but it was actually a lot of fun this year. Knowing that V-Day is a pretty big holiday in Japan, I spent the past two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) baking chocolate chip cookies (using strawberry-flavoured and milk chocolate--yummy!) for all of the students and teachers at Kirita, plus the people in my section at the Towada Board of Education (60 people in total).

I somehow managed to wake up early enough to go to the office and back (~1hr roundtrip) before I had to leave to go to school. It was kind of fun (even though it was snowing and I was tired) because I was the first and only person in the office so I felt a little like Santa Claus (the Valentine Fairy?).

Then at Kirita, all of the students and teachers were appreciative of my V-Day presents, plus I got to do V-Day activities with all of my classes.

And the chocolate!!

I thought the (female) students would only give presents to the male teachers, but a lot of them made enough for all of the teachers (plus their classmates). One thing I learned, though, is that it’s a good idea to keep some sticky notes handy to identify the giver of each present as they’re given; it’s important to know who gave you presents so that you don’t miss giving anyone White Day presents. (March 14th is White Day, a day when girls who gave Valentine’s chocolate receive presents in return.)

Anyway, I came home with quite a haul!

For more (close-up) pictures of the presents, please see my Facebook photo page at

After school we had a rehearsal for a play some of us (ALTs) will be performing in Japanese at an "international" event in Towada. Following that the six of us went for dinner at a great Italian place in Towada called "Papa de Mucho."

Since I was in such a good mood, I decided to splurge and ordered the "Papa de" course: salad; pasta; dessert; and a soft drink. They were out of tiramisu, but the chocolate mousse was delicious, so it was fine.