I had my most fulfilling and satisfying days of the past month this week. On Monday and Tuesday, all of the Kobe Jets (there's 65 of us) gathered together in Kenchomae (another one of the endless suburbs of Kobe) at Amanda's Jr High. We split into our native home countries and then were grouped into rooms: America in one room, the UK in a second, Oceanic countries in a third (NZ, Australia, South Africa) and finally Canada, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobego in the fourth. Sixty students (they were different on monday and tuesday) were divided into three groups and were sent to explore the countries of the world. When they arrived at our room they were greeted with bilingual signs at the door, "Bienvenue au Canada," "Welcome to Canada!" (Canadians made up the majority of the population in our room) We introduced ourselves to the children and stated our game plan for the session:
"HI! MY name is JENN. I come from ONTARIO, a province of CANADA. In ONTARIO I live beside a BIG LAKE, and my city is HAMILTON. (No point in talking about belleville, it didn't mean anything to any of the other canadians even) It's nice to meet you!"
"Today, you are going to learn about CANADA. You are going to LISTEN to MUSIC from CANADA, JAMAICA, and TRINIDAD & TOBEGO. After, you are going to learn how to PLAY HOCKEY! YAY!"
Once we divided the group into two, we sent one half out to learn hockey and the others were left in the room to be bombarded with Canadian music. We had clips of songs in sets of three, and asked them to find the Canadian artist. It was decently hard for some of the Canadians, so any that the kids got right was either pure luck or they've got very good observation skills-- whichever artists were canadians, we tended to dance a little more to-- Avril, BNL, GBS, etc. With exception of Bob Marley, I had no idea which singers were Jamaican or Trinidadian.
Outside in the "hockey rink" we handed out broomsticks to the kids-- Hockey sticks aren't readily available! We explained that in Canada it's cold (brrr!) so we play on ice-- but in Kobe it's very hot (atsui, desu ne) so we have to use the regular floor. The rules explained, we brought the kids to the centre for the puck drop, pushed play on the cd player (We thought it only appropriate to expose them to the theme of Hockey Night in Canada, The Good Old Hockey Game, the TML goal song, and many other such ditties) and watched them go at it. Some groups were more.... forceful than others-- in one group of eight we had only one boy, and the poor guy almost got a bloody nose less than a minute into the first period. At the end of the day in our mass recap/closing ceremony session when asked which country they enjoyed the most, you'll be proud to know that every child said "Canada!". We even had Americans skipping out on their own presentations to come watch the hockey games and cheer for the kids.
At the end of the day, we were divided up into groups once more, this time in much smaller portions. Each child had been assigned to bring something for Show and Tell, which ranged from sharing their Club activities and hobbies to showing us how to make paper cranes or tie an Obi on a yukata. On Monday I was lucky enough to be placed in a group with a young lady who translated my name into Kanji for me and wrote it in calligraphy.
It was so fantastic to finally be DOing something instead of sitting in training and orientation. The kids that were there were of course the ones who were more genki about english to begin with, most of them belonged to the English club at their school, so it was fantastic to play games and have fun with these kids who were so curious about interacting with gaijin. I'm excited to start my classes in a week and a half, though I know that it won't be as exciting as these two days of summer school. I really do wish that we could just travel around from school to school and do it year round. That would be an incredible amount of fun. At any rate, it'll be good to get to know the kids at my school this term (I change schools in January and again in April). I wish that I could say that the rest of my week was *this* satisfying and exciting!