Sunday, July 30, 2006

2006 Leaver's Party in Sada

2006 Leaver's Party in Sada - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The end of July/beginning of August is the time when we say goodbye to JETs who are leaving the programme and heading home and say hello to the fresh recruits who arrive in Shimane from Tokyo Orientation stunned at how hot it is in Japan in August.

We had a nice party for the JETs who are leaving at Sada Forrest Park. BBQ food and a cool slideshow by AJET President Ben and the AJET Awards.

I was given the award for "SuperJET" - mostly due to my presentation in Kobe I would guess. It was nice to get an award from my peers, so thanks to those who voted for me. :)

We had this discussion on the Shimane JETs webboard a few months ago - while I think I would feel OK classifying myself as a Super ALT, I don't think I quite make the grade as a "Super JET." I do my best to attend JET functions and I try to get to know as many JETs as possible, but I'm not as active in weekend activities as many other JETs.
But I think I'm pretty kick-ass as an ALT - the job part of being a JET. I need to work on the "Fun" part of being a JET a bit more and socialize a bit more since it's my last year now and I've got the teaching part wired.

Click on the pic for more pics from the night.


roku nen sei and Mayuko & Mihoko

roku nen sei and Mayuko & Mihoko
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here are some of the 6th graders at one of my Elementary schools - Taisha Sho. Also in the pic are the two women who now teach "Super English" classes with the 6th graders every week - Mayuko & Mihoko.

These girls will graduate next March and then join me at Taisha Chu next April - my last class of new ichi nen sei before I leave Taisha next July.

Super English is the name for the program now in every elementary school in the Izumo area, where local people come in and teach supplementary English lessons 3 times a week with only the 6th graders in an attempt to get them more prepared for 7th grade English. It's been happening in some Izumo schools for a few years now, but this is the first year they're trying it at my schools in the Taisha area. I've only participated in Super English lessons at Taisha Sho, but I think I'll be asked to join in at Araki and Yokan Sho as well.

I've heard mixed reports from other ALTs about the merits of this program, and I'll refrain from any comment yet since it's just started in my area. But more English can only be a good thing in my opinion. And the kids at Taisha Sho are lucky because Mihoko and Mayuko are young and fun and speak pretty good English.

This day we studied the alphabet letters - and played my made-up game called "Romaji Bingo." It's usually a big hit with my classes and the Spongebob stickers as prizes certainly don't hurt. :)


Friday, July 21, 2006

Fun @ Yokan Sho

Fun @ Yokan Sho - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

On Wednesday, July 12th, I spent the entire day at one of my elementary schools - Yokan Sho.

They had scheduled me to teach 5 periods in a row and then have English club 6th period, but I told them that is just too much genki - these kids wear me out, so I had them reschedule slightly to give me one rest period.

Still, I taught 3 classes, had a rest period, ate lunch with the kids, taught one more class and then had English club. It was a full day, and it was HOT that day - I think I changed clothes 3 times.

And to top it all off, when I was done, I jumped in my car (God, how I love having a car now) and sped off to a local High School to judge a speech contest as a favor for another ALT.

You find the energy cuz you feed off the kids - they are so happy to see you and have such fun in the lessons it does make the time go by quickly.

Funny thing at lunch - the 5th graders who I ate with that day group their desks into little circles at lunch time, so one kids from each group did JANKEN to see which group I would sit with. The group that won didn't talk to me AT ALL the entire time - they just ate and grunted when I tried to ask a few questions... haha. Oh well - you get unconditional love on the one hand and you're shunned by 10 year olds on the other. All is a day's work for Super JET.

Oh yeah - I am now officially a Super JET. I got an award to prove it and everything. More details about that soon. You gotta leave your readers wanting more... :P


Yasugi Trivia Night

Yasugi Trivia Night - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Linda - the CIR out in Yasugi, hosted a Trivia Night, so I dragged Irish Mark, and Ang and Ang brought two of her Japanese friends along and we went for a night of questions to stump our collective brains. Had much fun! And we crushed the competition... LOL

Yokan Eigo Club 2006-2007

Yokan Eigo Club 2006-2007
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is my whole English Club at Yokan Shogakko this year.
All girls this time - two 4th graders, three 5th graders and one 6th grader.
from left: Ayane, Shiori, Kanoko, Shiori, Yuka and Wakako.
They've been a fun bunch so far - we meet about once a month for one hour of English fun.

Hirata HS - Gemma's ESS club - group

Hirata HS - Gemma's ESS club - 4
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The whole genki club. I'm sure their speeches were wonderful!


Hirata HS - Gemma's ESS club

Hirata HS - Gemma's ESS club - 11
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I try to help out other JETs as much as I can, and I sometimes ask them to return the favor by helping me with events here in Taisha. We all like seeing each other and lending a hand, but sometimes the Japanese educational bureaucracy gets in the way.

Anyway, my fellow ALT Gemma was having a small speech contest for just the high school students in her ESS club. I said I'd come along to help judge.

Well, that day was a heckuva day and I ended up getting a bit lost on the way, so I arrived a wee bit late - ok it was over an hour late, and I missed all the speeches. :(

But Gemma had me up on stage with Cat and Heidi to help give out the awards and prizes and we had fun afterwards mingling and eating and Gemma even made us line dance.

It was a fun afternoon.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

CHESS 2006

CHESS 2006 - Day TWO - 50
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Once again this year I participated in a 3-day camp for High School students here in Shimane. The camp is called CHESS (Camp for High School English Students of Shimane) and it's been taking place in my prefecture for about 15 years now.

Last year we had about 80 students and we gathered at a facility in Gotsu, but this year we had less students, about 60, and we gathered at a different facility near Mt. Sanbe.

The other change for me from last year was my assignment - last year I was an assitant group leader, sheperding a group of 7 students around for the 3 days, helping them prepare a skit to perform on the final day. That was cool, cuz I got to bond with that small group of kids.

This year, I was put in charge of a workshop - The Tricky Mysteries (Trivia) workshop, so I got to see all ten groups over the course of 5 workshops. This was also fun, as I love trivia and it was fun to see all the groups competing. Also, it gave me a little more free time to simply interact with all the kids, as I had none of the pressure of trying to get the skit ready for Sunday.

Oh yeah, the camp was on a Friday thru Sunday this year, which was a change from the midweek schedule last year.
And the final day of the camp was also the day of my Mom's birthday, the Wimbledon tennis final and the World Cup soccer final. It was a busy weekend! :)

So click on this picture and you'll be taken to my online site which has about 70 or 80 pics from CHESS this year.

The coolest thing for me at CHESS is getting to actually have conversations in ENglish with students. Most of the kids who come to the camp really like English, and since they're older than the students I teach at Jr High or Elementary school, they can actually talk to you in English - which is so Cool!

And I got to see some of my former Jr High students who are now in High School.

Anyway - it was three days of heat, mosquitos, "viking-style" meals, one cold shower, late nights and I loved it all - one of the best work-related activities I do ALL year. Can't wait to go again next year for my final time.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The 2006 Chugokku Cup

The 2006 Chugokku Cup - 3
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

The Shimane JETs have their own soccer team - The Shimane Samurai Superstars. They have a mens' team and a womens' team and they play other adult teams for fun.

This was a tournament largely put together by Shimane ALT Cleve and held this year on Saturday, June 17th, at the amazing Hamayama Park sports facility in my town, Taisha.

Cleve asked me to help out in the announcer's booth for the day and I happy to oblige.

I got to watch some fun soccer and cheer on my friends, who are decked out in red in this pic.

Chugokku is the region of Japan than Shimane prefecture is in, so teams came from adjacent prefectures such as Yamaguchi, Hiroshima and Okayama. There were also a few teams of Japanese players from the area. The Shimane team made it to the final match only to be beaten by one of the Japanese teams in a tight match with the score of 3-2.

click on this pic for more photos from the day.

-Jason Cosell

Monday, July 10, 2006

T&F club - macho pose

T&F club - macho pose
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is me with the Track and Field club members who are 9th graders.

This was taken on Tuesday, June 20th, at the conclusion of the tournament. My kids did allright, but didn't take home any of the big team prizes.

I went back out to support them after school that day, and luckily didn't get any of the sunburn I got when i was with them all day the previous Sunday.

special Track & Field socks!

06:06 Track & Field at Hamayama Park - 14
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I spent most of Sunday, June 18th, out at Hamayama park watching my JH's track and field team compete against other area teams.

I had a great time talking to the kids and cheering on the runners and jumpers.

This pic is of the silly and funny socks all the girls on the team seem to wear. Click on any pic to see many more that day.


Trivia for week of July 10th

Jamie Lee Curtis was praised for her performance in the 2003 remake of the film Freaky Friday. Who starred in the 1976 original?

Answer for week of June 26th (highlight line below):
"The Scientist"

Monday, July 03, 2006

Letters from Kaori & Yukako - 1

Letters from Kaori & Yukako - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I get cool hand-written letters from some of my kids - one of the benefits of low-tech Taisha living - most can't email me unless I owned a Japanese cell phone and I've refused to get one so far.

So they write me and include cool drawings and little stickers and sometimes they write in both Japanese and English, which is good practice for me, but a few of the really smart girls just write me in English. More than any omiyage I could buy in a shop, these letters and drawings are what I'll treasure when I leave Japan.


Brass Band @ Misen no Sato - cool chicks

Brass Band @ Misen no Sato - cool chicks
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My band chicks are the greatest girls. More than any other group of kids at my Jr High, they try to talk to me in English and chat about regular stuff - so much of my conversations with kids are still limited to "Boy, Jason, you sure are big" or "Do you have a girlfriend" or "Do they have rain in America?"

So I try my best to support them and go see them perform whenever I can. This day was a Sunday, but I went anyway, and I was the only staff member there other than the main band teacher - Sakamoto sensei.

Turns out the place was a retirement community, but that didn't stop my band from playing and dancing and singing to the "Matsui Ken Samba."


Yuki & Hiromi - "hen na kao"

Yuki & Hiromi - "hen na kao"
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Every month I now make three 4-page English newsletters at my Jr High. One for each grade level - 7th to 9th.
I include English word puzzles, interviews with teachers, contests and pictures.

Yuki and Hiromi have asked me to NOT use this picture in the 9th grade English newsletter. hmmm......


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Spider-Man 3 trailer!!

OK - I know it's a year away and maybe even longer before I get to see it here in Japan, but Sony has released the first trailer for the new Spider-Man film, due for May 2007.

You can watch it Here.

It's cool that director Sam Raimi is tackling the Venom storyline, a long-time favorite of fans of the comic book.

And it looks like we'll get an appearance by the Hobgoblin and The Sandman - two cool villians.

Can't wait!

Now if they'd just hurry up and release Superman Returns and X-Men 3 here!