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Amparo Bertram

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09:33 pm: Where has all my weekend gone?
This week has kept me pretty busy. I have seven different preps, if you count the class with the exchange student, and for several of those I'm responsible for putting together all the handouts because there's no textbook. The stack of handouts (which I collect from the students after each class, because experience has shown that otherwise half of them will forget to bring them to the next class) now takes up most of my desk.

Wednesday I had my second class with my solo workshop on fairytales. I had hoped that the ones who signed up would be the ones actually interested in the topic, but I suspect all but two signed up because the remaining alternatives were "college prep" workshops and they didn't want to study that hard. I noticed they seemed kind of zoned out during the first class, so this time I tried to make it more interactive by playing off them as I acted out various roles in the story. For example, I would pretend to be Cinderella, and go up to one of the girls and invite my "step-sister" to play, and she had to react as the step-sister in the story would have. They seemed to appreciate the exaggerated acting out approach. ...At least, they were following along and participating rather than sleeping, which seemed like a good sign.

Starting Friday, I was recruited to translate for the delegation of Michigan middle school students who will be here for several days. I had to be at City Hall by 12:30 to get on the bus to meet them at the airport. This meant I could only stay up until the end of 3rd period and then scarf down a quick lunch and head out. At 10:40, just 15 minutes before 3rd period was about to begin, my team teacher came up to my desk and told me he couldn't make it to class and I would have to handle it on my own. ...Gee, sure, thanks for the advance notice. So, I took care of that class and spent a few extra minutes locking up the classroom. Luckily, I didn't lose too much time and made it to City Hall without incident.

We met the delegation at the airport okay. On the ride back, however, I was told that some some of the students wouldn't be picked up until late because the children of their host families were on a school trip. Thus I was asked to stay at City Hall with them to keep them company. I didn't mind doing so, but I wished I had been informed earlier so that I could have eaten something. I wound up not getting back home until nearly 9pm, by which time I was starving.

I had been given a schedule of what I was being asked to do, and it listed "translate at the Biwako Museum 9:30am to 2pm." I looked up the museum on the internet, and it opens at 9:30, so it seemed logical that we would meet at the front door at opening time. I had never been there before and didn't know how long it would take to get there, so I set out from my apartment at 8:15. The only bus to the museum leaves from Kusatsu Station, so I went to Kusatsu...only to find that the earliest bus wasn't until 9:22. I KNEW that wouldn't arrive by 9:30, and I didn't want to be late, so I took a taxi instead.

I arrived at the museum with plenty of time to spare...and waited...and waited... By 9:45, I asked the museum staff if the group had arrived and I just hadn't noticed, but it turned out that they were wondering where the Lenawee group was themselves. By 10:00 the group finally showed up. It seems they had all met at City Hall and had waited for me there, calling my apartment to find out where I was (but of course I had left early and they didn't have my cell phone number). The instructions to meet at City Hall were on a separate schedule, which I hadn't been given. Gee. But I was reimbursed for the taxi fare, so I didn't really have anything to complain about.

The day at the museum went well. After we got back, there was a couple hour break before the evening welcome dinner, at which I was also asked to translate. I wound up not doing very much actual translation at the dinner, since the speeches were read by other people and there wasn't much time for small talk between all the speeches and presentations. I was sorry that the poor delegation member at my table didn't enjoy the food very much, but then mochi is not for everyone.

I'm scheduled to go to the airport next Saturday for the seeing-off. I'm told that I'll get comp time for all of this, which is nice. In the meantime, though, it seems like the weekend ought to last a little longer...

Comments

[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:May 14th, 2006 02:00 pm (UTC)
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They are so lucky to have you. If nothing else, you can really list flexibility on your resume.

At our last Lenawee International Club meeting a Lady from Japan who has been living here for 18 years (she married the son in her host family) gave us a short presentation on some of the similarities and differences between the Japanese and US culture. She works for Mitsubishi in Ann Arbor and tries to be helpful sharing what she's learned about the two cultures with those who work with Mitsubishi. You can imagine how many times there are misunderstandings among the people from each culture working there.

One of the things she said was that the indirectness and vagueness that is part of the Japanese culture puts the responsibility on the listener to read between the lines. If they don't get it, it's because they are not thinking hard enough, for example. But, she did say that it's okay to ask questions to check out assumptions and what we might be reading into a situation and to ask for further information or directions. By the way, though, she said she still can't do it...read the boss's mind, for example. She actually prefers the more direct way of the US culture.
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