Monday, November 30, 2009

Foreigner At Home

Today while at work, I had a very unexpected flashback. I honestly never thought I could ever feel this way again while standing within the borders of our fine country.
I was completely reminded of my first English class after arriving in Japan. I was to teach 5th graders their days of the week, months of the year, four seasons and holidays. All in one class period. (After introducing myself and providing 'cultural exchange.' Yes, it said 'cultural exchange' right there on the leson plan.)
I remember looking up at these uniformed wide-eyed students, muttering a few Japanese phrases I had tried to memorize the night before, ("Ganbatte kudasai! Do your best!") and then diving into my English lesson. The look on their faces--- that of utter bewilderment and blank incomprehension-- is the flashback I am referring to today.

Today, I was standing in front of 21 third graders on their first day back from Thanksgiving Vacation. For some reason, I thought it would be no problem at all to slip back into our routine of fact families and multiplication facts.... it had been only 6 days, after all.
What I saw staring back at me was enough to make me actually laugh out loud. My lips were moving. Words were coming out. There was body language and enthusiasm and even several octaves going on.... but there was not a TRACE of awareness on any of my 21 darlings' faces. In my mind's eye, I was back in the rice paddy, flapping my arms and singing and dancing my days of the week... in a foreign language. I was the white girl who kept on talking... in a WingDings equivalent.

I am offering up a prayer tonight. God, please give me the patience to hang in there. Fabio and friends are sure putting up a fight in this whole 'education' thing.
(On a related note, Fabio peed his pants today on purpose. Please make this an isolated incident.)
Thanks, God. Amen.

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