Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's been a while...

I've been dealing with the way too many new things at work on top of preparing two presentations without having chilling & reflecting time on my own. For the first time in a while, I had a peaceful afternoon nap on my favorite sofa. I realize how tired my body and soul has been. I guess that's what happens when you suddenly start dealing with more than 100 different types of humans at work. Before this new work, I talked with only my family and some of kids at my own school. The average number of people I meet was about 5 to 6 a day. They are all familiar faces and I know what to expect. But from a few weeks ago, as my new work begun, suddenly I deal with 40 to 50 people a day and I don't know many of them. For the first time in my life, I realized why I  couldn't handle school life so well back in school days. It is just too much information to take in. At workshops and presentations, I meet new faces and share the time but I often feel like those occasions are for meeting kindred spirits and making new friends. After all, those participants who bother to join my workshop or presentations share the interests or at least have a bit of interest in what I say. So, it has been inspirational and empowering for me to do presentations. However, this job as an ALT is a whole different story. Many of participants (students) got little interests in what I say. In fact some of them including teachers show no interests in me, an ALT. For them, I am just an intruder of their fun school life. One day, she marched in from nowhere and started telling something they didn't care. To make the matter worse, she asks them what  she can do for them. What a nightmare for them! I feel sorry for their confusion but I hope they will eventually understand my intention is not bad at all. In fact, I genuinely would like to get to know them because we are there, sharing the time and space at the same time for some kind of funny and amazing coincidence. It might mean nothing if we ignore the fact that the chance to be in the same classroom at a certain time is very low almost like the level of miracle. I just can't help getting a bit too excited about that. It might be a good reason or some kind of universal mystery going right now. If so, I don't want to miss a thing. Having this crazy idea in my mind, I've been 100% open to whatever I feel at work. With all my senses I take everything going on around me and it's been exhausting. I feel so alive and appreciate the opportunities offered to me but still I haven't got used to such an intense circumstance.
On top of that, at Sunnyfield English, I have nearly 10 new students joined to our learning community last month. I'm so ecstatic but at the same time I feel a bit overwhelmed because of the flood of information I would like to take in. Unfortunately, the capacity of my heart is limitless but that of my head is quite limited. Considering the chaos in my mind, however, things have been rather smooth. In fact it has been unexpectedly good. I appreciate everyone's generosity and patience.

From next month, I will have a full schedule, 5 days a week at elementary schools, 3 days a week at  Sunnyfield English in the evening plus my own study and life. I know there are bunch of people who got much busier schedule but please imagine I am a total beginner for juggling. I can toss and catch only a ball at a time. But now I got 5 balls in my hands to juggle. I am a big believer of "Practice makes perfect" and would keep on trying to juggle well. But in a mean time, I need a group of cheer leaders.
Would you be one of them?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New journey!

How many times have I said "Really?" ever since the year of 2013 started? There were various kind of "Really?" depending on the circumstances but most of my "Really?" so far this year have been the one used for expressing joyful surprises. The first "Really?" happened when I was invited to the speakers workshop for TEDx Tokyo teachers. The second one came when I was invited by ETJ Saitama as a presenter. The third one was when my partner found my first textbooks became available online. Those  "Really?" expressed my astonishment at surreal moments.

Having lived in a peaceful yet humble place with my daughter and enjoying the slices of English world with cute little kids in our neighborhood for more than a decade, I got used to my little Cheekish la la land where we got nothing but our imagination to play with. I had such a blast time sharing all the fantastic picture books and stories kids told me about their daily findings. In such a little la la land, there is no such a thing like fear. To get up-to-date information about outside of our world, all I need was to have a chat over cuppa with wise friends from time to time. Nothing radical happened. It could be boring but surely peaceful days. I wished this make-believe style of living with kids would last forever as long as I live. My only fear was that one day my daughter would say. "Mum, don't you wanna know what is going on outside? I wanna find things out!" The day didn't come within one day but little by little she stayed outside of our land longer and longer and finally she left me in the little land on my own. Those neighborhood kids also grew out of the land and left for the much bigger world.  Looking at the empty seats, I moaned and moaned as if it was the end of the world for a while.

One night, I sat alone in the little classroom looking at those pictures of my kids on the wall. Every one of them looked happy and smily. As I started reading those picture books we shared, I got on the mental time-machine and went back to the days of laughters. All the kids were still small with chubby faces and the sticky hands, asking me what to play for the day. So, I said, "Mr. Wolf?" Kids went "YAY!" After playing in our garden for a while, we got back in our library and shared our favorite story, Goodnight, Moon. I said "Goodnight" then kids said "Good-bye" instead with big smiles on their little cute faces.

Their voice echoed repeatedly in my mind and I looked at them and finally said "good-bye."  Good-bye to our la la land and my early motherhood. It was time my own life started again. The early motherhood was filled with full of little surprises, findings and laughters. It was absolutely fantastic but I didn't want to stay there alone. All the kids left there to explore more complex and perhaps beautiful world. So, why don't I? After all, we learned together how to be courageous in the face of challenges and fear and stay curious via playing and sharing so many stories in the la la land, the place where the reality and the innocent fancy meets. After the time-travel, I promised to myself to be out of sentimental self-pity and enjoy the life fully.

"Really?" The latest one was happened at the end of last month after I had a job interview at Kunitachi city hall for an ALT position. It was the first time for me to do 5-min demo lesson without any preparation at all. More than a decade of make-believe life with kids has intensified my crazy imagination or something, somehow I was oddly excited to get all the serious looking men open up and talk to me in the foreign language. Surprisingly the magic I learned in the land worked! Learning how to say "good-bye" opens the door to a new journey. I would visit 4 different elementary schools in Kunitachi city. What kind of stories those kid will share with me? What stories I can introduce to them? What kind of magic would I learn?

There are so many things and people I appreciate but today I thank to those kids including Momo, my daughter, who shared multi-cultured and colored stories with me in the last decade. They got me ready for the new journey to find more stories.