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Friday, February 8, 2008

Travelogue Japan (4) The Workplace

Written on April 30, 2007

I hope you're all doing well. This entry will be a relatively short one with no pictures. However, the next one should be laden with them as I am going to Kyoto/Nara with a friend later in the week. I'll write it up as soon as I can. Until then, I'll just make some more observations.

Remember how I said that the work environment here is very regimented? Well, I found out that it is even more so than I thought. The new female teachers are leaving for basic training next week! Yep, all new employees must go through military training before they begin their teaching. It's designed to familiarize them with the military life of the students they'll be teaching. They will be gone for one month and my students told me that it is slightly less difficult than what they had to endure. Goodness!! When I expressed my surprise in the office, another teacher showed me pictures of her previous incarceration there.

Speaking of the students, every student fills out an evaluation form at the end of his/her course. One of my students wrote that he was concerned I was working too hard! He said this because I've been inviting students into my office during my lunch period and other free time. I'm not doing this to be a martyr; I just really enjoy being around THESE students. Believe me, if every student at DLI were like these, there wouldn't be a need for SLT. Teachers would be locking their classroom doors at 1435 to prevent the students from leaving.

I have to admit that at least a part of my work ethic here derives from a desire to keep up with my Japanese colleagues. They are unbelievable! Just the other day, I wanted to ask one of them a question, but she was staring incessantly at her computer screen and so, I didn't want to disturb her. When I went back a few hours later, she was still staring! Yet, I noticed that the screen had not changed at all from the time I was there before. Hmmmmm . . . have I discovered a flaw in the Matrix? This will require further investigation.

I am really getting tired of the Japanese habit of improving on everything that we do in America. You know the 'Big Mac?' Well, in the local McDonalds here, they have something called a'MegaMac.' Instead of two beef patties, there are four! I don't know how you would eat it exactly since it would take a crocodile to digest the thing. I just know that it's bigger and better than what we have in the US. I guess this is my only complaint about the Japan. They are just too good!

I finally figured it out. I'm not actually in Japan. I went to sleep one night in Texas and am still dreaming. No place in reality could be this perfect. I feel like I'm wading through the Elyseian Fields.

More later, Russ

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