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under the chair
I've had way more than my typical share of interactions with Japanese kids lately (SHS students don't count despite their relentless efforts to display all things cute and juvenile in their personal space* - they are just too old!) Anyway last Wednesday through Saturday it feels like all I did was play Fruit Basket, Hot or Cold, Simon Says and talk about the Easter Bunny and my friend Hamish, the 40 year old bagpiper. I was at Surisawa Elementary school Wed - Fri where I taught every single grade including giving the new 1st grade my self introduction (the Scottish Flag went down well- they tried to wear it, hide under it, cuddle it, stroke it and eat it).

Being back at the elementary school made me realise just how different my experience in Japan might have been had I been teaching rooms full of cuteness (that doesn't emanate from pencil cases and keyrings but from the students themselves) every day. Still at least I had the opportunity to visit the elementary a few times. At the risk of sounding like a line out of Judging Amy...I am going to say that teaching in the elementary has given me some of my best experiences in Japan.

On Saturday I was out of bed by 6.30am and off to Sarisawa Community Centre for two more elementary classes. This time I was teaching with Yuko and things were very relaxed. I had a great time showing the kids photos of my cats and my family. After three hours I was ready to collapse though! Lunch followed in a tatami room that had a stuffed bear in the corner.

On Monday I had eikaiwa and Yuko turned up with her two daughters. She had baked me a birthday cake and her daughters had made me birthday cards. I played a game devised by Manae (Yuko's oldest daughter who is 7) which revolved around me finding a pink ball of fluff that she one point I gave up and said "Where is it?" and Manae, without hesitation, replied "Under the chair." This was utterly amazing...I have taught 2nd grade senior high school students prepositions with the aid of pictures and they still struggle to remember it the next week. Manae is my new favourite person. Her little sister (nearly 4 years old) had even picked up the words for mouth, pocket and door within fifteen minutes of the game.

So I left my eikaiwa feeling happy for once - between munching cake and playing games I hadn't managed to teach any of the adults a thing though!

*school bags, pencil cases, desk, cubby holes, bikes and mopeds are all typically adorned with stickers of Marie from Aristocats, keyrings of Stitch and other such Disney junk.

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