For some reason, junior high is the school where stuff seems to happen more often than my other schools. Maybe it’s because my kids are weird or I’m just more involved somehow. Either way, it’s amusing.
The most eventful grades of the three are definitely the 1st years. That class is full of weirdoes but I love it. The person who sticks out the most (besides loud Shinji-kun) is Tsu. Every time I run into her, she’ll grin and say “Hisashiburi!(Long time no see!)” even though I see her once a week. Recently she’s been switching up her greetings with me. The newest one is “Maido!” Maido is a very old school greeting in Osaka, one that you don’t really hear too often anymore. I guess it’s the equivalent of howdy. Anyways, her Maidos don’t just stop after we see each other:
“Okay Tsu, let’s correct this sentence here..”
“Yes, you just have to add an “and” in between these…”
“Maido! Okay, let’s correct this now!” Essentially she will keep repeating it until I return the greeting (even if I had already said it a few minutes earlier). Whenever I see her, she’ll always belt out “Maido!” I’m tempted to change her nickname to Maido. Maybe I will if she keeps it up.
Another thing Tsu likes to do is make faces at me while I teach. It’s super distracting because I am easily amused and will laugh almost right away. If she doesn’t make a face, she’ll probably be smiling and waving at me as if she’s in a sea of people and trying to catch my attention, usually followed by a “Maido!” However, I have started to do the same thing back at her while my JTEs are teaching. I’ll make a face or slightly wave which usually gets her to laugh and get scolded at. It’s fair game! I guess it’s just like the game I play with the kids that make the announcements during lunch at my Tuesday school. She doesn’t seem to mind the teacher’s scolding.
The other day, we had all the 1st years write a paragraph about a memorable event they had in the past. We all gave them Japanese-English dictionaries. Within a minute of giving the dictionaries to the students, I hear a loud female voice from my right:
“AH! Chikan in English!” Tsu immediately started her search for perverted words. Chikan basically means molester/groper. It’s a big problem in packed trains, so you will see the word a lot when you’re riding one here. I run over to her side and she‘s happily pointing me the word. The synonyms they had for it were hilarious, I can’t even remember them. I was cracking up and then a few students made the obvious comment “Ah, Diego is laughing! I made Diego laugh!” Across the room I hear another student laughing so I run up to him and ask what’s so funny. “Oh, nothing, nothing,” he giggled as he hid the dictionary away from me. Soon giggles were heard from every part of the classroom. I’m glad junior high hasn’t changed since my days—gotta love puberty!
The School Library
Despite Momo’s departure, I still find myself visiting the school library a couple of times during the day. It’s quiet, peaceful, and I don’t have to worry about having coworkers look at me slack off. I occasionally run into my students, especially after school. From what the librarian has told me, Nao, Manami, and her close friend Ayu (all 1st year girls) are the people that come to the library the most. The librarian will always tell them (much to my dismay sometimes) “Diego is here! Go talk to him in English! This is your big chance!”. Most girls like Ayu and Nao are usually too shy to talk and just stay quiet. Manami, on the other hand, is usually happy to try to talk to me in English. Once in awhile, they’ll try to talk to me in Japanese. With the librarian there, she can usually try to help translate but sometimes, she’ll be busy doing something. Half the time, the exchange is like this:
“Huh? Could you repeat that a bit slower?”
“…muri. (That’s impossible/No way).”
“What?? Repeat it!”
“…no no no no.”
I don’t get why students do this sometimes but it annoys the hell out of me. I can usually understand what people say if I hear it twice. However, with some of my students, if I don’t hear it the first time, it’s gone forever. Manami is one of the few that doesn’t mind repeating. Ina, on the other hand, will whine out loud and say “Ugh! Diego can’t understand anything!” (in which I usually smack her upside the head). I’ve had this happen a few times with Nao and it’s annoying.
The other day, Ayu and Manami were reading books together. I was minding my own business until Ayu looks and me and asks “Can you read Japanese?”
“Umm, a little.”
“Read this then! “ She handed me a kid’s book that was all in hiragana. I started to read it (albeit slowly) and not too long afterward, Ayu started to laugh. I kept continuing and she kept laughing nonstop. I stopped and smacked her with the book saying “How do you expect me to read aloud when you’re over there laughing like crazy??”
“It’s just, it’s just..”
“Nope! I’d like to see you try. Try reading your English textbook.”
“Okay. “Hello, my nam-“
“..is Robert-o. I like to pl-“
“..ay soccer and my favorite hob-“
“See, not so easy, Is it?!” Manami was cracking up the whole time, it was pretty funny. I soon learned that Nao and Ayu don’t like English a lot because of the classes. However, they don’t mind me at all and are always friendly. It must be a class thing; the textbook is really boring and students don’t really learn in a fun way. Manami on the other hand, likes English a lot and hates studying Japanese. Well, there’s one fan, at least. But judging how she reacted to my praise to her last time, this was pretty obvious.
Its students like these that make my Thursdays a lot of fun. I hope they’re still spunky and friendly when they’re 2nd year students.