Monday, June 16, 2008

Future Goals?

On the bus ride back from Tohoku Machi (where the aforementioned Chuutairen was held) I was talking with Tomabechi-sensei about my plans for when I (eventually) return to Canada.

I think it's fairly safe to say that, unless something terrible happens this year (here or at home) I'll stay for at least 3 years (i.e. until August 2010). After that, though, it's really a big question mark.

In terms of the job, I think I'd be happy staying for the maximum five years, but there are lots of other considerations.

For one thing, I'd be 29 when I finally returned home, and 29 seems a little old to still be deciding what the heck I want to do with my life.

Then too, I really do miss everyone, especially from MCBC. I also miss having a church where I feel at home and part of the community.

Perhaps most importantly, I don't know if I'd still be growing and improving as a teacher at Kirita if I stayed for a fourth or fifth year. I definitely wouldn't stay if I felt like I was just going to be recycling lesson plans and sticking with the status quo. Plus I wonder if it might be better for the school to get a new ALT with fresh ideas after three years with the same person...

A new consideration (just came up today!) is that I've started thinking I might like to take a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification course when I go back and go into immigration/settlement related work, or possibly head off to Korea or Hong Kong to teach English (probably at the secondary level)...

Of course, that wouldn't help with the "missing everyone" consideration, but at least it gives me some possibilities for future employment.

Mental Fortitude

I attended the Chuutairen (sports meet for junior high schools around this area--Towada, Misawa, Rokunohe, Tohoku Machi, etc.) for the past three days, and the amount of mental (not to mention emotional and physical) fortitude necessary for such competitions was really impressed on my mind.

Today was the finals. Out of about fifteen (a little more, I think) students who competed in table tennis, only four made it to today: three sannensei girls and one ninensei boy.

All three of the girls lost their first matches, but our ninensei won his first match. He started his second match off impressively, winning the first two sets. He started to have a little difficulty in the third, but it was still very close when things started to go downhill. He started missing some serves and shots and then, I suspect, he realized that his father was up in the stands cheering for him (at least, that's when I noticed his father!).

I'm not overly familiar with table tennis, so suffice to say that he lost the third set 11-8. After that it seemed like he lost his confidence/composure. (It probably didn't help that his father went down after he lost that third set to talk to him during the break between sets.) He then proceeded to lose the fourth and fifth set (and, consequently, the match) by successively larger margins.

Shortly after the loss, he had to play another match to determine whether he would be ranked among the top eight, but his opponent was very strong, and (again, this is my suspicion) he was probably still bummed out from the earlier loss and he lost in three straight sets. It was really heartbreaking (especially since he's one of my favourite students). When he came back, he covered his face with his towel and was (manfully) crying.

I read a lot of sports manga and have watched various sports matches (hockey, softball, etc.) but this is the first time I really felt like I "understood" (in the empathetic sense) just how much athletes put into sports and how much it takes to win and how tough it is to lose.

Anyway, on a more cheerful note, even though I'm pretty exhausted (Sat. got up before 5am, was with the students from 7am-3pm; Sun. got up around 5:15am, was with the students from 7am-4:30pm; Mon. got up around 5:30am, was with the students from 8:30am-1pm, then drove to the office and was there from 2pm-4:15pm), I wouldn't give up the experience for anything. It was great to see everyone earnestly cheering their fellow students on ("Nice shot!" "Don't mind!" "Ganbare!" "Fight!") and I felt that my coming to cheer was also appreciated.

Thankfully my office is very nice, and even though I couldn't get daikyu (substitute holiday for when people work on weekends--all the Kirita teachers and students have Tues. and Wed. off from school, but I'm still working!) for my participation, I got a call from my supervisor tonight saying that I could sleep in and just come in the afternoon. ^_^