Monday, April 10, 2006

Little Crumbsnatchers

Here are some pictures of my preschool kids at good old PROS Language Center. I have a few more students, but only brought the camera (or remembered to get it out, more accurately) on a day when I only teach two. This is Chiaki and Miyu enjoying some free play on a rainy afternoon. It also shows the classroom I use (I have since switched the alphabet posters in the background. They always seemed a little confusing to me: Aa, Bb, Ee?) Here is Chiaki, cracking a crooked smile for the camera. She is an excellent little artist and can already write her name (albeit in simple Japanese). She does tend to block out English speakers after a long day, and when I first started teaching her I asked if maybe she was hard of hearing (Chiaki? Chiaki?? Chi-a-ki?!) She is a very sweet girl though, and very bright. And next is Miyu. She comes to PROS five days a week, so her English is pretty advanced for a 2-year old. She can read 3 letter words and she remembers a lot of the phrases I use in class. Once, during snacktime, she starting singing a little song that went "Sit down properly, sit down properly!" That was pretty funny. She's a lot of fun to have in class, and it's been amazing to see her progress. I hope to have some pictures of the other kids soon!

Hanami = Look at the Flowers!

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry for my long absence from this site. However, I will make it up to all of you out there with not one, but two fantastic posts! So get ready!

It's cherry blossom time here in Osaka, and that means all the work weary inhabitants, Japanese or otherwise, are enjoying the flowers in the traditional way: barbequing under the trees, drinking sake and singing. The park outside our apartment, has transformed into a wonderland of delicate pink blossoms and happy groups picnicking on the grass. The festivites began when the first blooms started to show, and both the fun and the flowers were in full force this weekend. Jeff and I spent last Sunday morning watching the crowd from our balcony, trying to decide what to do with the day. After a mention of hiking in Nara and haircuts in American Mura, I said, "Well, let's make one lap around the park and then see how we feel." Stepping out into the street, the smell of yaki-niku and grill smoke in the air, I think we knew we weren't going anywhere. We watched some kids catching goldfish at a small stand, next to a vendor selling shaved ice and grilled noodles. Hanami goers everywhere, who were obviously pros, had large tarps spread out with inummerable tasty delights and small pillows holding family members of all ages. Walking on the crowded path, passing old ladies (meaning 80-90 years old) strolling arm-in-arm enjoying the view, we began to hear some wonderful, strange guitar music. We stopped to listen to a young man play the sanshin, a traditional Okinawan guitar with only three strings. Soon, we found ourselves sitting with the family, enjoying canned beer and fish stew. Our host was a talkative native of Okinawa, whose little knowledge of English didn't stop him from chatting us up. He was a great dancer too, demonstrating some traditional Okinawan moves. However, the grandfather of the group really showed us how it was done; breaking out a fan and shouting "Sore, sore!" It was wonderful to see everyone letting loose for a change! Jeff and I spent about 3 hours drinking and chatting, and we didn't make it around the lake until the sun had set. What an unexpected afternoon! I'll be sorry to see the cherry blossoms go. Soon, we are moving to a new apartment, up in the mountains between Kobe and Osaka. It will be a big change, and I'll miss the lake, but having a new area to explore will be really fun. Hope you are all well! Lots of love, Erin