Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22 - Day 6

This is Marcus Katich, class of 2019.  Jack and I are staying together in what can only be described as the nicest house in Japan. Today we woke up and had breakfast with our host family, the Morisawa's. They made us these tiny sausages in buns that looked suspiciously like hotdogs, but were definitely not hotdogs. Regardless of what they were, they were delicious. 

We took a combination of train and bus to Ritsumeikan High School, and I went to math class with Brandon. There we took a test on logarithmic properties, and I think I failed miserably (sorry Mr Orsini). We were surprised that that students didn't seem to be taking the class too seriously since this is an elite school. I guess even Japanese students have classes they like to mess around in. From there we went to a computer class and an ethics class. Nothing really special happened there, but it is interesting to try and push my Japanese language listening ability. I really think we are all improving. 

At the end of third period, we had to leave in a rush as there were taxis waiting to take us to our next destination. We went to Kuse Elementary School, a public school in the city of Joyo where Balsomico-Sensei once worked. This was a fascinating experience. At first, we had school lunch with the students. In Japan, all students have the same thing, and everyone must eat it (you can't leave anything behind). Sensei has told us of some strange lunches he has had there,  it today we were lucky. It was a kind of teriyaki chicken with rice and a vegetable based miso soup. Lunch is served by the students and all of the students have to clean up.

The students were very curious about us. Almost none of them could speak English outside of "hello" but the whole time they kept trying to communicate with us. For some reason they kept asking us to sign things: scraps of paper, notebooks, hats... I really didn't understand that and have to ask Sensei. They did think Jack wa Justin Bieber, so maybe they thought we were all famous.

After lunch was recess and we all went outside to play with the children. Apparently, sixth graders all play a very confusing version of volleyball. I didn't understand what was going on and failed to dodge the ball. Following recess, it was cleaning time. In Japan, there is aren't really any custodians, as students have to clean the school. They have to sweep and wash the floors, dust the rooms, and even clean the bathrooms. Sensei says it teaches respect for where you are learning, and has the bonus of students not wanting to dirty something they'll have to clean up later.

We broke into groups and went back to the classroom. Jenna, Brandon, and I taught them duck duck goose and red light green light, and in return the students taught us a few Japanese games. It was so fun having the chance to interact with the kids, but explaining in Japanese sometimes pushed my ability to the limit. There were people from two newspapers and a radio station there and I was interviewed by the radio reporter (I think) but the int review was cut short because we had to give a presentation.

Playing with Japanese students was fun, trying to explain games in Japanese was challenging but interesting, but giving a presentation in Japanese about Pittsburgh to a gymnasium full of Japanese students was... difficult. The presentation was mostly successful and Eddie and I talked about food, which is fitting because we have been eating so much. After our presentation, the kids performed a short musical number about friendship for us. It was really cute.

With school over, we went to the Japanese equivalent of a dollar store. The quality and variety of things was much better though, and everyone bought so much to take back. Jack and I went back to our host family, and we went to a Chinese restaurant. It was definitely nothing like a Chinese restaurant back home. We ordered about 9 dishes and we all shared them.

After dinner we played a game using Shogi pieces, and while it would be too hard to describe, somehow I won.

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