Friday, March 23, 2012

Graduation isn’t the end.

お久しぶりですね! It's been a while, huh? I've been wrapped up in graduation ceremonies and final lessons for the school year. I might have brushed on this topic before, but the school calendar is quite different here. It's on a trimester system, starting in April and ending in March, with various breaks and public holidays sprinkled throughout (mmm, sounds tasty!). The third term has come to an end as of today, and I have to admit my heart is aching a bit.

Last week was 卒業式 (Sotugyousiki - Graduation Ceremony) at both of my junior high schools. I chose to attend the ceremony of my base school since I'm more familiar with the students and staff. Over the last several months, they have become my family here, especially the 3年生, who were graduating. It's difficult to put into words, but they were just such a friendly group of kids.

When I first came to this place last summer, I was so anxious about teaching English to 15-year-olds. They ended up being my favorite age group, even over the tiny 1st graders in elementary school. I always ate lunch with the 3年生, and taught more lessons with them than any other grade. They were also the most open about speaking English with me. At lunch we conversed in a mix of Japanese and English, give and take with both languages. We still had classes this week after their graduation, and the lunch room has been so empty without them :(

As for the ceremony, it was definitely remarkable... just so different from a graduation in America! It was so quiet and very formal. The graduating class marched in, diplomas were given to each student, speeches were made by Kocho-sensei and the PTA Chairman. The most heart-wrenching part of the ceremony was when the underclassmen sang a farewell song in perfect harmony to the graduating class. Their senpai sang a song to them afterwards. Everyone was crying. You can bet I was. It was also still quite cold in the insulation/heat-free gymnasium. My hands turned purple.

They decorated the front doors. Yay!

Shoe cubbies were also decorated. So cute!

Genki Girls!

Boys I sat with at lunch every day :)

Getting one last look of their classroom before the ceremony.


At the end of the day, I had so many feelings about all of this. I never thought I would teach Junior High School in my lifetime, or even enjoy it – and these students have proved me wrong. That isn’t to say that I want to do it in the states, but I am very happy that I tried something different and it has made me a better teacher because of the experience. I have also learned something new, as a teacher. It doesn't matter how old they are or what language they speak -- no matter what, I always cry when they graduate and leave me. Yep, I'm just that kind of person. ♥

Oh, and I also went to the the Graduation Ceremony of one of my favorite elementary schools this week! My JTE and I attended as guests. It was basically the same thing, only on a smaller scale. It was neat seeing my little 6年生 wearing their brand new junior high school uniforms! I didn't cry this time, since those students will be coming to me.

Now it's 春休み -- Spring Break! Except not, because I'm not taking vacation days and still have to be at the office. Oh well. Matt and I have a few trips planned for April and May, which I'm really looking forward to.

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