Tales From A Broad

My year of teaching English in Japan is up. Next mission: backpack Asia before going home to the U.S.A. Currently HOME!





Frusteration at its finest

Being far away from the States during Hurricane Katrina has shifted my perception. I have an opportunity to spread the word about what it’s like to be American to an area that would otherwise be clueless. To show them that there’s a lot more to our culture then McDonald’s and Hollywood movies. For the past month, my co-workers have been asking me all kinds of questions about the hurricane. Of course, the J-news has covered it, but not as extensively or with as many graphic images then American news has.

I decided to give a presentation about the hurricane. I showed the students pictures. Told them about how people evacuate before the storm, or at least try to evacuate. Explained how families are dispersed throughout the south, if they survived at all. There was absolute dead silence. They were hooked. It was then that I decided to collect donations to send to the Red Cross in the States. The vice principal told me that he’d get back to me after he got the OK from the principal, but there was never an OK.

The VP sat me down and explained to me how they can’t collect donations from the students. “It is our school policy, to not except money from students for charity. We’ve never done that. Most students don’t have jobs, so we can’t ask them for money.” No, but it doesn’t stop them from asking their parents to buy them Louis Vuitton purses (and they usually oblige. J-parents are notorious for spoiling their children). Typical. I should have known that just like everything else in Japan, people can’t think out side the box. The second someone threatens the daily routine with a new idea, the superiors shoot it down. More enraging then it is shocking, I knew it was something my students would’ve loved. I already had 3 girls approach me about helping the cause last week.

The VP then suggested that I could collect donations from the teachers but not the students. While it would definitely be an option, it defeats the whole purpose of informing the students on current events around the world. Otherwise, they are clueless like most teenagers are in high school. Their world is small. It revolves around dating, sports, drinking, dating, and dating. They need exchanging of new ideas, ideas that aren’t uniquely Japanese. Believe me, that it is ridiculously hard here because they seem to have an insular school of thought. Unlike America, schools aren’t necessarily about making the students smarter and teaching the subjects very well. No matter how little a student works or incapable they are, they will pass, as long as they go through the motions. Instead, schools are a training camp where students learn to be Japanese. Learn to bow at the beginning and end of class. Addressing their superiors with the appropriate titles. Grrrrrr…….!
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At 14:37, Blogger boredatwork said...

Don't give up! Why don't you have the students themselves collect money from others (neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends from other schools, etc) to donate on behalf of your particular classroom? Is that prohibited? Are events like car/bicycle washes and/or bake sales unheard of over there? Don't let "the man" get you down.    



At 18:37, Blogger goongirl said...

Ah see this is where you made a massive blunder. Never ever ask permission, just do it and apologise for it later. Everything is this country is always too hard unless it has been decided by the gods (in our case the BOE). Do as you are told is the social discourse to follow. But being a gaijin you can act now and apologise later.

Look I had a frustrating night last night even with the aid of a science teacher to try and explain the fact the earth rotates on an angle and thats how we get seasons. The locals cannot get over the fact its summer in Aus when its winter here. I got asked repeatedly if Australian summers are cold. Duh.    



At 13:36, Blogger tito said...

whoa this post is intense... if you want i can send you a video of my dance moves to get the principal to reconsider his answer    



At 05:58, Blogger J-girl said...

Wow! You sound pretty bitter for only being here 2 months. But hang in there--you will find something where you feel you are making a difference. Don't get down because you can't change the entire system. Thousands and thousands of JETs have tried this already. Maybe you can just give the students the information about how they can donate to the Red Cross, without actually accepting the donations directly.    



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