Happy Birthday Dad!
September 1st is the first day of school for all children in Himeji. A couple of days ago, I found out about my new schools for my final year in this program. My boss, Iizuka-sensei is allowing me to return to my former Jr. High, Masui, in January. In exchange for letting me go back to Masui, which is only a 15 minute bike ride from my house, I'm going to a school this fall that's about a 1 hour bus commute into the country-side.
It's really beautiful in Yumesaki. There are a lot of mountains, rivers, rice fields and farms. Sugano Jr. High has about 340 kids (half the size of Masui). I will get to see all of their classes once per/week. The contrast between the urban and rural schools will be interesting for me. I've already been invited to the pumpkin festival in October. There's also an agriculture club with their own plot of land to farm.
Everyone is really kind. My mentor/contact teacher is really genki (energetic) and fun. She's young, talkative and funny. Her English is excellent and she's very straight-forward.
This past spring several smaller outlying towns voted to merge with Himeji, so Yumesaki is now apart of Himeji, hence the long commute. The bus ride doesn't bother me, I can read, knit, meditate or sleep on the bus. It's just that I have to be up early and buses don't run frequently.
In other news, there are many new American ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers). Because of the city merger, we have increased in size. It's awesome to have a building full of so many positive and cool people. We organized a welcome and start of the new school year party at the Egret International Center roof-top beer garden, where we could watch the sunset and look at Himeji castle. It was also Avi's birthday.
There are three beer gardens in downtown Himeji. Beer gardens are only open in the summer and are located on the rooftops of tall buildings. It's usually one set price for all you can drink and eat.
Pictures below: Jane, Chelsea, Karen & Amanda; Julian & John; Hanako; Avi.