I finally started going into classrooms this week and introducing myself to students.
So apparently I have been a celebrity all my life and didn't know it. Working with these kids is going to be so much fun--they are so excited to meet a foreigner, and nothing boosts your confidence quite like hearing "Kawaii!" squealed behind your back every time you walk past a group of students.
This job is going to be kind of like being in elementary and middle school all over again in that I get to make PowerPoint presentations, posters, and do cultural reports. The funniest part of my introduction so far was when I showed one class my hip-hop slide. Atlanta is home to a ton of hip-hop artists, so I featured pictures of Ludacris, Usher, Andre 3000, and TLC. Here's what happened:
Me: Who's this? [pointing to Usher]
Student 1: Michael Jackson!
Me: [laughing] What? Michael Jackson janai!
Student 2: Michael Jordan!
Me: Um...no...any other guesses?
Apparently those are the only two black people that Japanese kids can identify, based on my very scientific observations.
I'm so excited for this opportunity. I never saw myself as a teacher, but I think I'm really going to love this job. It's so enlightening to examine yourself from the perspective of an outsider, and as cliche as it sounds, I really like knowing that I've made a positive impact on a young person's life.
In extracurricular activities, sakura season is in full bloom and everything is magical. We went to Takato, one of the top 3 places in Japan to view sakura, last Friday. It was like walking in a dream, like that scene in Pleasantville when they were driving down Lover's Lane and all the flowers turned from black and white to color. I can't wait to see more cherry blossoms! The trees look so foreboding the entire year, and then for just a couple of weeks, they look ethereal. I'll post some pictures soon!
And the best news of all--I GOT A WORK VISA! I went to Nagano City by myself on Tuesday with a hand-drawn map and actually found the immigration office without getting lost. If you know me at all, you know that this is a miracle. I was a little nervous--as I always am with immigration matters--but I went up to the third floor, turned in my paperwork, and got the visa no problem. Now all I have to do is register as an alien in Chino and I'm totally, 100% legal, and ineligible to star in an episode of Locked Up Abroad.
I'll try to blog more often; I finally understand how tiring a full-time job is. But it's a good kind of tiring. The kind that means you're doing something worth doing.