Making shortbread.

Tired of reading about my schools?  Don’t worry, this will be the last one in awhile.  So get ready for a long post and lots of photos!

The pinnacle of last semester was teaching all of my junior high kids how to make shortbread.  I mentioned this briefly awhile ago.   Originally, I was supposed to come up with my own recipe but it was changed last minute to shortbread.  I’m glad this happened because I was already swamped with work.  The nutrionist, Ms. Ono, had already baked shortbread to test out how easy it was to make.  The results were very good so we decided to go ahead and go through with it.  The only problem was that baking the shortbread took around 40 minutes.  Class time lasts around 50 minutes so needless to say, we had to have class run twice as long if we were going to get anything done.  Since I teach 3 classes (well, technically 4 since we split up the 3rd years), I was asked if I could spend the entire day teaching the kids.  This is usually unheard of; the max amount of periods I teach is five.  Needless to say, it was going to be a busy day.  At least I wasn’t going to be bored.

For 1st and 2nd period, I was teaching the 2nd years.  Ideally, they were the best group to start with because they’re the smartest and most energetic.  However, everyone is usually still pretty sleepy during 1st period and it showed with everyone.  However, people like Maido were still as energetic as ever.  We had one specific rule for our English cooking class: speak in English only.  Some of the students tried their best but weren’t able to keep it up the entire time.  I honestly didn’t care.

I brought my American cell phone to take pictures of everyone.  The reason I used it instead of my Japanese one is that in Japan, you can’t disable the sound when you take a picture, mainly to try to prevent perverts taking upskirt pictures stealthily.  Needless to say, I wanted to be stealthy when I took my pictures because otherwise, half of my kids would probably try to hide themselves or would be too distracted.  Overall, I think I did a good job in taking pictures.  Plus, you’ll be able to put some faces on the people I mention a lot 😀

First thing we did was mix up all the dough together in a bowl.  FYI, you’re required to always wear an apron and a bandana when it comes to cooking stuff here, even if it won’t be messy:

Next up was putting the dough in the pan and flattening it with a spoon to even it out.    Maido looked kinda clueless on what to do at first:

After telling her what to do, she happily yelled out “Okay! No problem! You’re a very nice looking guy!”  Ah, typical Maido characteristics.  She’s too funny.  She happily posed for the camera:

This is Tsu, aka the witty girl of the group doing her thing.  She noticed I was taking a picture and posed.  I was actually surprised she did:

Right after we took the picture, she asked me, “How did it turn out?  Do I look cute?”

“Of course you do.”

Then Ichiro, one of her group members commented with “I don’t know, she kind of looks like a fish…”

I don’t know why, but I lost it with that comment.  Tsu got really worked and yelled out “Diego, why are you laughing at that?!?!!!!”  in her heavily accented, whiny voice.  She’s really known for whining heavily so that only made me laugh even more.

Once we baked the shortbread, we had to cut it into 8 pieces and sprinkle the top with sugar.  Here’s Manami, our English ace, in action:

Meanwhile, other students were washing the kitchen supplies.  Here’s Reno, the girl who likes anything sweet.  To her right is Ichiro.  She really wanted to drink peach tea with the shortbread but unfortunately we didn’t have any.  Her, Maido and Tsu are really good friends and you usually can see them together:

Manami making some tea for tea time!:

After that, we all sat down and eat shortbread with tea.  As expected, Reno dumped a shitload of sugar in her tea and even took a little spoonful of sugar and ate it. Why did I only take pictures of the girls?  Mainly because the boys managed to see that I was taking pictures of them and hid.  They’re crafty, even without a shutter sound.  You can kinda see some of them in this picture:


I think Reno realized I was taking a picture in this one 😛 :

For 2nd and 3rd period, I taught the 1st years.  The 1st years really tried their best to follow the “English only” rule, even if half the time they weren’t making any sense.  I would be hearing “Let’s cleaning!” “You, me, together, throw garbage bin!” and other random lines.  The most popular ones were probably “Don’t touch me!” and “You are crazy!”  Of course, the HELP ME guy was yelling out “Help meee!” to me quite often.  For some reason, one of my kids kept calling the crotch troll “brown face” or “egg muffin”.  Don’t ask me.

This is Katsu.  He tries his best to speak only English to me, which is why I like him a lot.  Apparently he likes sweets a lot too and I noticed him dumping even more sugar on the top of his shortbread, which was kind of gross.  He was also eating a spoonful of sugar, like Reno.  I can’t believe I used to do the same when I was a kid:

Here’s Ryo, a quiet but cool kid.  I loved that he basically wrapped a hand towel around his head and used that as a bandana:

Here’s one group finishing up the shortbread:

This is Ami and Shingo.  Shingo was the kid who randomly said “I like Diego!” to me during lunch.  He’s a friendly guy and tries to include me in his conversation and even goes to the point of saying I can speak a lot of Japanese.  A complete lie but thanks anyways, Shingo!  Ami was initially shy so I had to end up being assertive and talk to her.  She’s pretty funny, once you get her chatting:

Finally, 5th and 6th period was with the 3rd years.  The 3rd years didn’t bother trying to use English at all, which was to be expected.  Despite that, I think I had the most fun with them because we’re getting more and more comfortable with each other.  The boys were already chatty with me but nowadays, even the girls have started to talk to me more.

Here we have Kouki and JoKo mixing the butter very well. These two are always together.  I even saw them at the bus stop across from my Wednesday school , which was very random:

Here’s Tama-chan and Aki.  Tama-chan is what everyone calls her, and she either always looks clueless or surprised.  I’m sure you know what face this is.  Aki is a huge slacker but still says hi to me whenever I see him:

Yuka, (who I mentioned awhile back) , sifting the flour:

Ash and Kaho:

Sucessful photobomb by Yuta (at least, his fingers):

Kouki (left) and JoKo (right), who demanded another picture of them:

Yuta in the flesh:

Yuta and I have a love-hate relationship.  If we’re not insulting each other, we’re being bros and having silly conversations.  He was wearing a U.S.A. bandana for some reason. While I was explaining the recipe, Yuta would be in the way back, waving his bandana, chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”  It was impossible not to laugh.  Whenever I walked by him, he would say terrible English to me, like “You are really crazy!” and then I would insult him right back.  Then, he would flip-flop and start complimenting me, saying “You are a very cool guy!” or “You have a small face!”  Over here, having a small face is considered a compliment. For some reason, he said to me “You are Diego!”

Me: “No, I’m not Diego!  I’m….(looks at Tatsuki)…I’m Tatsuki!”

Yuta: “Oh, I’m sorry Tatsuki!  I made a mistake!”

Me: “No problem!”

Tatsuki: “Huh?  No, you’re not Tatsuki!”

Me: “Yes I am!

Everyone else: “Yes he is.”

Me (to Yuta): “Then who are you?”

Yuta: “I am Michael Jackson!”

He started doing the moonwalk and the Thriller dance.  It was fucking hilarious.   Ever since then, he and a bunch of other guys have been calling me Tatsuki, to the real Tatsuki’s dismay.  In exchange, I call him MJ, which is what he’ll be known as from now on.

Kaho, successfully dodging my camera:

Shortbread ready to be put In the oven!:

While we waited for the shortbread to bake, we filled out a couple of worksheets.  Here’s Meeky on the right and one of the Hart sisters on the left.  When the Hart sisters are together, I cannot tell them apart for the life of me.  They’re “halfs”, aka, half Japanese, half American.  Their English is excellent but they’re either too shy or don’t want to bother speaking the language:

Here’s Miku quietly filling out her worksheet:

Miku is probably one of the more interesting girls that I’ve recently started talking to.  Initially, she was dead quiet but one day I saw her test results while I was standing around, doing nothing in class.  She scored a 85/100, which was really impressive for a classroom full of slackers.  I told her that and she seemed happy at the comment.  Later, she started to say really short English phrases to me whenever I passed by her seat, like “I’m very tired,” or “I’m still hungry.”  Whenever I look at her, she gives me a nice smile, which I can’t help but chuckle at, only to have her chuckle back.  It’s weird but I’m glad we’re finally getting to know each other.  Nowadays she practices a little English on me and I’ll practice a little Japanese with her, usually ending up with both of us screwing up the language horribly.

JoKo, being weird like usual.  The kids demanded I take a picture of him while he didn’t notice:

Tama-chan with her famous clueless look:

Miku and one of the Hart sisters posing for the vice principal and I:

Meeky, wondering how to pour the sugar on the shortbread.  It was pretty funny to watch:

Ash and Kaho, doing some teamwork:

After eating shortbread and drinking tea for the third time, I was stuffed.  However, like the day I walked with my kids last year, this day was a very memorable one at my junior high.  I got to know a lot of my 1st and 3rd years a lot more and I had a lot of fun  with the 2nd years.

The day was not over yet though!  After school, I had to give more pointers to Meeky and Kazu for the speech contest.  Meeky seems to be doing better but Kazu seems to be the same.  Kaho was chilling with us in the library. During a short break, I was trying to read the kanji in her book.  My JTE accidently read it out loud before I could figure it out, leaving me discouraged.  When she asked why, I explained it to her in English and Japanese, but she still didn’t get it.

Kaho finally said “He’s mad because you read it before he could!”  It was funny that she managed to understand me and the JTE couldn’t.  “That’s too cute!” Kaho said to me.  I feel like that isn’t really a compliment for me, haha.  After we finished the preparation, we had a small chat by the office.  Kaho then pointed out at a box and said “Hey Diego, can you read this?”

“Hmm, I can read each kanji separately, but not all together.”

“It’s a;jfafja!”


“;fjal;fja!!  It’s a suggestion box.  You can write whatever you want and drop it in there.”

“Oh, I see.”

“You should write a suggestion in there too!”

“Huh, you think?”

“Yeah, in Japanese!”

“Hmm, I wonder if I can even do it…”

“You can!  You totally can!”  Kaho’s belief in my Japanese skills really cheered me up for some reason.  I still have a long ways to go to fully have conversation with my students, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.  Out of all the students this semester, I think I have gotten closer to my 3rd years the most.  When they were 2nd years, only a couple would talk to me and I had no idea who they were.  Now, most of them are happy to chat with me and I know the majority of them.  I wouldn’t imagine coming in a classroom where I have Kaho yelling out “Yaho, Diego!” and the boys just messing with me with stupid English jokes.  While I do need a break from school, I definitely missed teaching them over summer break.

I’ll see them soon enough though.  Only one more week until school starts!


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