Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Very Mixed Bag

I have been in this country for the best part of three years now. It's had it's ups and down, and I generally have a healthy love-hate relationship with the place. More often than not, it's hate, but I think that's more for my job than actual society and culture.

Yesterday I had one of the saddest moments I've ever experienced here. I have started teaching regularly at nearby Hiruma elementary school. This is the largest school in the town, yet they never got regular ALT classes until this April. As such, a lot of the kids don't know me. I was sitting in the staff room yesterday waiting for my class to begin, and girl came in. She would be in the third or fourth grade, so she wasn't a total baby. She saw me and stopped dead. I said 'hello' as I usually do to all kids who stare at me. She jumped a MILE into the air, said, in Japanese, that I was really scary, and ran out of the room. Well. That went well. Most kids in town, whether I teach them or not, have seen me. Most would say hello, or konnichiwa back to me. This girl didn't know where to look. That's the first time that's ever happened to me. It would have been fun if this girl had smiled, or given some hint that she had seen me before, or had some sort of twinkle in her eye. But she didn't. Ugh.

Things like yesterday make me want to take the collective Japanese population and shake some sense into them. The level of their insularity in this day and age is staggering and frustrating. I think I have given up on trying to internationalise them. The task has become tedious and repetitive. I remember my friends who were going home last summer felt this way as well. I am worn out in this job, bored to tears. I don't regret for a second staying three years. But it's time. And it's time that is causing me problems.

I am stuck between a rock and a hard place these days... I have so many things planned that I am looking forward to (frisbee, camping, visiting Kochi, rafting etc...), and yet they are all in the future. The faster they come, the faster going home comes as well. I am so ready to be finished this damn job, and be out of this damn country for a while. I am not ready to say goodbye to all these people. I guess that's why I'm coming back. I am such an odd mix of feelings these days. I am happy to be finishing, but so unhappy to be leaving. I keep meeting all these wonderful people, and I know that I would love to spend a significant amount of time with all of them. But time is pretty much up. I don't know how to balance myself out. I feel like I'm bobbing along with little control over my life. Which is nonsense, I have total control. I am dying for something to change, but afraid because I know what form that change will take. I need some sleep.

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