Where have we been?

[Taylor]

We haven’t posted in a while and with good reason.  Two weekends ago we were busy planning for an English barbecue at our apartment.  Our friend in town who teaches English privately to elementary and junior high school students invited approximately fifty people over for hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and soda.  Yes, that’s right, we celebrated the 4th of July…in August.

A few days before the big barbecue, our friend Britni arrived from the States.  As you can imagine, we’ve spent a lot of our free time showing her all the good things Aomori has to offer.  Since it’s August, this included participating in the famous Aomori Nebuta festival, watching the brilliant Tachinebuta festival in Goshogawara, attending a tea ceremony, exploring Hirosaki Castle, meeting Julie’s coworkers, meeting our ALT friends, watching wacky television shows, and of course, eating delicious seafood and ramen.

On top of all that, I helped out at an English camp for junior high and high school students in Aomori City over the weekend.  When I wasn’t running English activities I was running around in the gym playing basketball, American football, and wall ball (a game I taught them how to play).  It was exhausting, but a ton of fun.

Highlights of English Camp

Eight other ALTs attended English Camp this summer.  In addition to running activities, we were each put in charge of a group of ten students who competed against other teams in various English activities.  This included writing and performing a skit with props.  My team, team Ultraman, had to write a play incorporating the phrase “Does he have influenza?”  In the skit, Winnie the Pooh invites his friends over for a Halloween party where they decide they should go skiing later.  Two months later, they go skiing, Pooh gets lost, rescued, and it is feared he has influenza.

The main activities I was in charge of included an English logic puzzle and a shopping simulation.  Of the two, the shopping simulation was my favorite.  A Japanese teacher and I sold Alaskan products to students including totem poles (badminton poles) and bear meat (sold by the kilogram).  Towards the end of the simulation, my coworker would steal an item.  I’d wait for my students to yell “Help!  Help me!” and then I’d chase after the teacher and arrest him with some toy handcuffs.

But my favorite part of the weekend was just hanging out and talking with students.  As far as camp counseling goes, I’m not the kind that exudes enthusiasm and effervesces Fun! and Excitement! everywhere I go.  I take a much quieter approach and try to get to know the students.  It’s a balance.  Those rowdy leaders are certainly necessary for a successful camp but I think having a few people take a more subdued approach helps make it more inclusive.

Look for more updates on the blog soon.  I’ll be typing up posts for Nebuta festivals in Aomori and Goshogawara soon.  Tomorrow I’m attending a Go tournament for the teachers of Aomori Prefecture so I’ll be sure to post a few pictures and comments on that as well.

As I alluded earlier, Julie will be sightseeing with Britni in Kyoto and Tokyo this week.  When she gets back, I reckon we’ll have even more blog entries for you to read.


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