July 18, 2008

Killing Me with Kindness

I'm not one for long goodbyes (I like a good goodbye hug though), so this week has been a bit torturous for me. On Tuesday, I gave my first goodbye speech at an assembly in my honor. The students gave me a huge bouquet, as I mentioned, then had me sit while they all sang one of their 1000-times-practiced songs to me. Then they parted, and I walked down the middle of them while they continued to hum. It was downright cinematic. Good ceremony, as one would expect of this society, but totally made me feel like I was going off to fight in a war or something.

Besides the assemblies, there is the goodbye meeting, where everyone in the office stands and you have to make remarks. I had one at each school. I'm not sure how appropriate it is, but I tried to put in a little critique into each one (to the elementarys: for the love of all that is holy, help the students study when I'm not here. Actually teach something. To the JHs: Do something, to keep your English skills from degrading now that I, your free practice dummy, am gone, not to be replaced. Man this is a sucky thing to have happen to a town). There was also the goodbye to the education director, the mayor ("Lets sit and have awkward chit-chat for five minutes about nothing.") and the vice-mayor ("I'm in a meeting. Hello, goodbye.").
I planned to give my super speech to the remaining elementary today too, but it was hot so I was just like, this has been fun! I'll remember you! Then a boy stood before everyone, handed me a flower, and expressed how fun it was that I had the class draw monsters with "multiple heads and only one body" (no really, it was an English lesson, and he did summarize it that way). And I got a paper medal.

Then off to the JH. The principal was in rare form; I'm pretty sure he was a Baptist preacher in a past life. He gave the end of period speech, shouting his 全くs and such the whole time. Then it was time to introduce me. He gave another speech, this time about Americans in Iraq and world peace and the importance of English and "that liar, Clinton" (ha ha I love him--during the office goodbye he accidentally said 嘘つきクレイトン (that liar, Clayton) We all about fell down). I gave my speech, same as on Tuesday.
Let me just conclude that if you use idioms and proverbs, you will impress people in Japan. 一心不乱 came in handy, as well as 虎穴に入らずんば、虎子を得ず (you have to go into the tiger's den to get the tiger cub).
I'm glad I am done with speeches, at least until the next part of my Japanese life. Not because I am afraid of public speaking, but because I abhor the banal predictability of ceremony. Guess I chose the wrong country. On the other hand, thanks to all the studying I've done in the last week or so, my ceremonial Japanese is at an all-time high.
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The cats are okay; I bought some cat food and checked on them. The lady had tried to feed cucumber to Poe. Cat food, lady. How many times do I have to tell you.
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I should be cleaning.