So about 4 weeks ago, I went to a town far north of Akita called Happocho.  I was sent with several other people to meet the townspeople and teach them English.  It was a great experience! I got to meet with a few middle school students, play with kids at a day care center, and sing to the older generation at an elderly home.  I even got to stay at a Japanese family's house. 
On my first day, we went to the Hachimori Middle School.  The school was very nice.  It seemed almost like a private school, as the architecture of the front gate into the school seemed very European.  The school was a three-story building and it was connected to a huge basketball gym.  On the third floor, you could see their spacious baseball field and the nearby sea.

The school's student population was very very small.  They didn't have 700 kids.  They didn't have 300 kids.  They had less than 100 kids attending their school.  In other words, each grade had less than 30 kids. Coming from a middle school that had over 1000 kids, Hachimori Middle School seemed too small.  It seemed a little lonely too.  There were a few classes that we passed by that seemed to not be in use.  As I walked around the school, I could not help but imagine what it would be like if the school was at full capacity.  I imagined a more busy atmosphere where you would hear more chatter around every corner. 
I have to say though, there was a big positive to the small population.  Everyone in the school is more closer.  As we were eating lunch together, I noticed how casual the kids were talking with the teachers.  It was as if two friends were talking with each other.  It was great to see that kind of bond.  It reminded me of a time in middle school where my classmates and I used to stay at school to play with teacher's foosball table.  We all got real close with the teacher, to the point where we could joke about ridiculous things.
Something that I found super interesting about their school was what they did after they finished eating and after school finished.  After they finished eating, they neatly put away their trays and trash into different bins.  It was very orderly and organized.  After school finished, all the students stayed after school to clean the floors, wipe the chalkboards, and clean the erasers. It was a first time I've ever seen kids so orderly and organized.
After attending the school for a few hours, our homestay families picked us up.  My homestay family was the Kikuchi family.  I hit it off well as soon as I met with the Kikuchi family.  I sang them a few songs with my ukulele, learned a few new Japanese songs to sing, and learned of how the grandmother and grandfather got married.  They were very interesting!  I hope I get to see them again the next time I go to Happocho.
After a nice long sleep at the Kikuchi's household, I was taken to a children's day care center where I met with other international students and played with the many little kids they had there.  These kids were very different from the well-behaved middle school students at Hachimori Middle School.  These kids were rowdy, and out of their mouth came dirty words.  The "rowdy-ness" made it fun, but the kids violence and language ruined it.  If a kid hits you, what can you do?? You can't give them lickens, because they're not your children.  If you tell them that their action was bad and tell them not to do it again, they won't listen.  They'll do it again.  I tried several different things.  The first was to grab their hand and say that hitting was bad.  I did it with a serious face too.  The second time they did it, I ignored them.  And I continued to ignore them until they stopped.  I honestly wanted to show them that hitting was bad by "spanking" them.  However, I was told by our coordinator to take them to the teacher and have the teacher deal with it.  But that didn't go so well.  The teachers only watched as the kids tried punching us.  As much fun as it was not, I want to go there again.  I want to lead these kids along the right path and give them somebody to look up to!
After playing with the little children, we were sent to an Elderly day care center where we performed several different songs.  There were tons of old people!  So much so that they would outnumber the kids at the middle school.  I talked as much as I could, but it was hard, as the old people only spoke in Akita's dialect.  Not only that but when they talked, it felt as if they smooshed all the words together.
At the elderly day care center, they performed a few dances, sang a few songs, and even did some traditional Japanese performances.  It was cool to see what type of songs they were interested in.  All of the songs they liked were Enka. And because of that, I was inspired to learn Enka.  One of the songs I learned from them was "Mugi Batake" or Wheat Field. 
After the elderly day care center, we went to the beach!  The beach was beautiful!  The sand was black, the wind was strong, and the waves were rough.  To me, it was a beautiful day to go swimming!  Of course, I took plenty of pictures!
This experience was really nice!  Even though we only stayed for a couple days, I got to practice my Japanese, learn about small towns in Japan, and discover new Japanese songs! To top it off with a cherry, we got paid 60 bucks for all of it!

The following are the new sections created in the scrapbook:
11/10/2012 02:49:30 pm

Beautiful experience..I felt if I was there to experience what you experienced.. These will be life time memories..Now you can see what i experienced when I was in Japan and why I love Japan so much..Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories...


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