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August 19, 2002: Giant Spiders and Mariah Carey

I continue to be in love with this place. Its beauty is so striking; the rugged hills run right into a luminous ocean. Bonsai gardens in people's front yards. Enormous spiders that resemble crabs. Not so in love with the last one—especially when it is in my way en route to the teacher's room or clinging to my shirt as I walk home at night. True stories—very gross.

I spent this last weekend tuning up my bike and exploring the island. I rode past a group of curious fisherman on my way to one of the beaches. It was an interesting journey as I thought I could ride around the end of the peninsula. Instead, the road ended in some laundry lines. I turned around and discovered the only way to the beach was over—not around—the inland mountains. So I climbed over with my bike. Reached the beach sweaty and ready to jump in. I was alone, very excited for some peace and then realized—the water was filled with jellyfish. Disappointed, I retreated, tried the other beach and found more of the same. There were people swimming at this beach so I braved the water and emerged unstung. However, as I was drying off I found myself surrounded by very curious junior high students. There was a lot of swarming behavior, giggling, and asking of interesting questions.

Work is chugging along. I'm not so busy at this point, just preparing for classes. The other teachers are teaching supplementary lessons to prepare students for their exams. So—do you think mandatory classes over summer vacation would go over big with students or teachers in the states? That's what I thought. Oh yeah—Saturdays and Sundays too.

I'm still a bit in the dark about what I'm doing now. I've prepared for my Parent Child community conversation class, written my welcome speeches (in Japanese) and started to make materials for my introductory class. Last week my supervisor was gone, so yesterday I tried to chat with him about expectations and such. It was less than successful. He's a very nice guy, but as Shobayashi-sensei (my first friend here) has said, "he is a man of few words." When I asked him for some guidance he said, "Maybe you can think about what you might like to teach the students and then.... mmm yes." ????! So I'm wrestling with that.

Once we get into the groove, I know that there will be more to work with. So, for now, I'm making posters of emotions and Jpop stars (Japanese Pop) for class. Oh yeah—and reading bad English primers. In each they are introduced to one or several songs in English. Some of you will be as shocked and appalled as I am to find that their formal introduction to songs in English include the Go-gos, Mariah Carey, and ABBA (okay, so the last one is okay!).

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2002 North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York 13617-1475