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Amparo Bertram

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08:16 pm: I've been cultured
I had a pretty slow morning, the highlight of which was changing the vacuum cleaner bag. In the afternoon, however, I went to the Minna no Salon meeting.

This month's presentation was about Brazil. The woman presenting taught some simple greetings in Portuguese, demonstrating with another Brazilian woman in attendance. The Japanese attendees (and possibly the Chinese ones as well) were shocked at the sudden kissy kissy motions that went along with the greeting. Next we all played a round of Fruit Basket using Portuguese numbers as an ice breaker.

She gave a talk about what school and family life is like in Brazil. I wanted to translate for the three exchange students who had come, but she literally talked nonstop, so I didn't have a chance. The aspect of the Brazilian school system that aroused the most interest (and horror) from the Japanese people was that students can flunk.

In Japan, it is practically impossible to flunk...that is, to be held back a grade. No matter how poorly a student does in school, the student is passed on to the next grade with everyone else. (At least, that's how it goes for mandatory education, which is through 9th grade. I've never seen a student actually flunk a grade in high school, either, though some students wind up ineligible to graduate.) When the Japanese people heard that Brazilian students have to take a test at the end of every school year starting in first grade and have to achieve at minimum a certain number of points in the 60-80 range (depending on the school) or else repeat the grade, they were aghast. ...Considering how many Japanese students squeak by with scores considerably less than 50%, sometimes as low as 25%, I can see why this could be a chilling concept.

At the end of the meeting, I was invited to attend a kyougen performance at a shrine in town. Kyougen is a traditional style of comedic play that was used between serious Nou (Noh) performances to lighten the mood.

Before the kyougen started, there were some other entertainers, such as traditional dancers and stand-up comedians. The three exchange students also came to watch, and the four of us sat together (in the front row) so that I could translate. The comedians couldn't help but notice the group of foreigners right in front of them, so they talked to us a little as part of their act. At one point, they asked, "Have you ever done karaoke?" I translated, and the students shook their heads. The comedians then continued, "Oh, that's right, only Japanese people do karaoke." ... @_@ The funniest part of the act was when one of the pair pretended to know sign language. He started with reasonable gestures, but then partway through would switch to something ridiculous, such as sticking his fingers up his nose. (The Kansai style of comedy, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is for one partner to do and say outrageous things while the other "straight man" partner stands there and calls him an idiot, sometimes bopping him for his antics.)

Anyway, it eventually got to the kyougen part of the entertainment. I did my best to translate, but the archaic language is equivalent to Shakespearean English and is thus quite hard to follow. I managed to get the general idea, at least. The picture is from the first of the two plays. The boy actor, we were told later, is a second grader. We were all quite impressed by his performance.

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From:megory
Date:October 16th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)

Wow!!!

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What a marvelous day. That would have been so exciting. I'm glad you were able to help the other gaijen have the experience with some help of translation.

Can you explain The Fruit Basket game?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 16th, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow!!!

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Can you explain The Fruit Basket game?

It's where you have one chair fewer than there are people, so everyone sits in a circle with one person in the middle. Everyone is assigned some label (originally a fruit, I suppose, though it can be done with colors, numbers, whatever), and the person in the middle calls out one of the labels. Whoever has that label has to jump up and dash for another empty chair. The person left in the middle then has to call another label. If the person says "fruit basket," then everyone has to find a new chair.

If you are in a group of people who can do longer sentences, then the person in the middle can say things like, "anyone who owns a pet" or "anyone who drank milk for breakfast" or "anyone wearing red" or whatever. When we were doing get-to-know-you exercises in MAC, they had the rule that the person in the middle had to name an activity that that person had actually done. For example, "anyone who's married," "anyone who has been to Florida," "anyone who has gone skydiving," that kind of thing.
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From:megory
Date:October 16th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow!!!

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Oh, that is a fun game. I guess I have played it in English. You learn something about each other that way. I didn't know its name
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