Guest's slippers lined up outside the dining room in a Japanese hotel (Ryokan).
The school year in Japan begins in April and ends in March. From April this year I will be a full time member of staff at a private high school in Nagoya. Responsibilities and the exciting chance to do lots of unpaid overtime abound! I have been asked to develop some form of international communication/exchange (more on that in another post) and on top of many other things I must take part in the various committees and meetings that exist outside the classroom. One of these is the 青年部 (sei-nen-bu = young teachers group).
I was 36 this march, but the sei-nen-bu does not concern itself simply with age. Most new teachers to the school have automatic membership and the purpose of the group is to support these new members using the perhaps over relied upon 'Senpai-Cohai' (senior-junior) method. Last Friday, the group went on it's end of year 'Gasshuku', a drinking session cleverly disguised as a training meeting, where teachers old and new discussed their successes and failures throughout the past year in front of the new staff (four nervous looking university graduates).
It's an exciting time for me. I always wanted to know just how far I could get on my own ability, not just selling my foreignness. The photography studio work was one experience that proved to me that some people just think about the way you work, not just about your nationality. Now I have a job with roughly the same contract as the Japanese teachers again given to me on the basis of hard work not just nationality. In the current economic climate I thought that this was a very brave move by the school. I am a little sad that I had to drop the studio work, but having a child changes things dramatically and there are always opportunities in new situations.
I arrived late for the meetings. My lift was held up at school with re-tests, whereas my one re-test student finished by 10am. The dinner and the after dinner party were fairly routine but good fun. I look to the new year with some trepidation but mostly with the feeling that here is a chance to learn and produce something worthwhile.