Minami Elementary School

Today was my first day at Minami Elementary School as a volunteer. I’m not quite sure what my purpose there is but from what I can gather I’m supposed to provide entertainment to all of the children by being an foreigner.

Today, as my first day, I got to sit in on a 4th year math class. When I walked in the classroom, nearly all of the children ― and I think the teacher did as well ― started saying, “Whoooooaaa, he’s taaaaaaalll.” In front of the entire class gawking at me, I introduced myself along with some hobbies and where I’m from ― the standard jikoshōkai that’s customary to be said here in Japan before you’re allowed to converse. The class wasn’t impressed that I couldn’t not speak Japanese; I think they were expecting an English-only-speaking American.

During the duration of the class, while the teacher was trying to keep her sanity in reach, I towered over the children and chatted with them. At every oppotunity I found, I joked with anyone willing: about test scores, their [lack of] height, cartoon characters, the current Japanese political system and its effect on the world economy at large; whatever really. Luckily, I didn’t step on anyone today. I didn’t really know what to do because they were trying to hold a class and teach but everyone was real nice about it.

Probably the coolest part of it all was that I’ve finally found a group of Japanese people that I can have a conversation with and understand 100% of what’s being said. The teacher along with the kids were incredibly easy to understand. Finally, people I can hang with people that’re on my level.

I’ll be going again, probably every week, so I can be constantly reminded that I’m getting old and also be reminded of how much energy I used to have. Just watching them running around like ants is tiring!