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Amparo Bertram

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07:31 pm: RSVP
The exchange student did a little better yesterday. She still stared at her lap a lot, but when she spoke her voice was louder.

(Perhaps the improvement was due in part to the fact that I had told her where to find the nearest bookstore. She showed up in the morning with a copy of the latest Death Note.)

One of my team teachers had to take two days off for a family emergency, which left me with a solo class each day. I'm prepping the first-year students on how to give a speech for the summer English workshop's mandatory speech contest. We've scheduled three class periods for it, and in this first lesson I performed an example of a bad speech and a good speech and had them point out what they noticed about each one. I then listed and demonstrated each of the points, emphasizing emotions, since that is the single most common weak spot. (If I can at least get them to smile when they give their speeches, that will be a considerable improvement.)

Yesterday I found a letter on my desk from the sister city friendship committee. It was inviting me to a dinner the evening of the 19th in honor of a delegation coming from Adrian, and it asked me to inform them whether I would be attending by popping the included postcard in the mail. I figured, hey, no problem...until I saw that the date they wanted me to mail it was that day. Hello? A little advance warning would be nice... <sigh> So after work I went out into the rain and sought out the nearest mailbox to send the postcard.

Then, today, on my lunch break, I got a call from the lady running the dinner. She was calling to find out if I could come. (I guess she couldn't wait one day for the postcard? Sheesh. If you want to know my answer sooner, get me the information earlier.) Of course, the reason she was anxious to know was that she wanted me to give a speech. (What a shock.) In both English and Japanese. (Surprise, surprise.) I asked what it should be about, but she just said "life in Japan...well, anything you want."

Oooookay.

<mentally makes list of things that I would actually want to make a speech about...and crosses them all off as definitely not what she has in mind>

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[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:July 6th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC)
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She showed up in the morning with a copy of the latest Death Note.

Now there's a girl after my own heart. I wonder if that's the only thing she bought?

<mentally makes list of things that I would actually want to make a speech about...and crosses them all off as definitely not what she has in mind>

I think you should research and give a speech about marimo breeding.
[User Picture]
From:melf42
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:51 am (UTC)
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...well, anything you want."

That's my least favorite phrase to hear in Japan. It's one reason why I've never properly done cleaning time at my school. "Clean anything you want" has not helped me locate extra brooms or cleaning products or care.

marimo breeding.

Would a marimo by any chance be a... POTATO?

things that I would actually want to make a speech about

I always find your vegetarian experiences fascinating. I sugest either doing that for your speech or discussing your experiences learning how to make a kimono (with sample finished products, even).

(I'm so glad I don't have to do long speeches in Japanese.)

[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:July 6th, 2005 07:12 am (UTC)
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I second the yukata suggestion! (Supposing, of course, that BL manga wouldn't be appropriate ;-) hehehe)

[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC)
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Would a marimo by any chance be a... POTATO?

Not exactly. It's a "miraculously spherical algae" that's a popular symbol of Hokkaido. (Coincidentally, I took a class on the biology of algae in college. Anything to avoid anatomy.)

I always find your vegetarian experiences fascinating. I sugest either doing that for your speech or discussing your experiences learning how to make a kimono

You have much better ideas than I do. ("Why Michigan should become the manga distribution center of the US...")
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:July 6th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC)
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Coincidentally, I took a class on the biology of algae in college.

See? Perfect!





(Actually, I agree about the vegetarian speech. You can talk about how jelly fish and bacon are vegetables in Japan.)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if that's the only thing she bought?

I imagine she bought more, since reading is her hobby and she said she already finished the two books she brought with her. She was also happy to hear that manga are much cheaper here than in the States. On the other hand, she can't actually read Japanese yet (she'll be studying katakana while she's here), so she can only look at the pictures.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
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Give a speech on how to properly ask for guest speakers.

<g> Now THAT would be useful...
[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:July 6th, 2005 07:29 am (UTC)
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Thank goodness there are signs of life from the exchange student! I'm sure I'd be somewhat shy in a drastic situation like that, but still! she had to ask to come to Japan, right? So one would think she'd be interested and open to the experience to at least some degree...hope she continues to relax more!

[User Picture]
From:wrenwyn
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
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So one would think she'd be interested and open to the experience to at least some degree...hope she continues to relax more!

Not if she has Franken-mother, and was forced to go.

Or maybe, just maybe, she's fleeing the law in the US and running away to Japan and she's trying to keep a low profile.

spacealien_vamp ?? Do they extrodite from Japan?

(=^.^=)

[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC)
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Or maybe, just maybe, she's fleeing the law in the US and running away to Japan and she's trying to keep a low profile.

<snicker> That reminds me of all the New Zealand JETS who came to Japan to avoid paying their college loans. (They apparently have--or had--a law that they didn't have to repay loans if living out of the country.)
[User Picture]
From:wrenwyn
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:04 pm (UTC)
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(If I can at least get them to smile when they give their speeches, that will be a considerable improvement.)

It would be all I could do not to throw up, let alone smile. I hated given speeches; still do.

My major in college was Amercian Studies because I didn't have to take language or speech. I admire your ability to give speeches, Amparo! I really do.

I'm glad your exchange student did better today. She must be so nervous or scared or both! How are the other students reacting to her? If she bonds with someone that will be a huge help.

Here's hoping that each day gets better and better for her!

(=^.^=)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I admire your ability to give speeches, Amparo! I really do.

Speeches are easy. I decide what to say, I say it, and then I'm DONE.

Conversation is much harder. For one thing, I have a very limited ability to think up small talk because...well, honestly, I have absolutely no interest in knowing random trivia about the other person's family/pets/vacation to Tahiti/whatever. Thus I never initiate anything. (Why ask if I don't care about the answer?)

The main problem, though, is that I can't think fast enough to respond at conversation speed. My mind takes a long time to process A) what the other person said, B) what the other person meant, C) what the other person wants me to say, and D) how I should phrase my answer. By the time I've gotten that far, there has been an uncomfortable pause, and the moment is gone. So I prefer the simplicity of speeches.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC)
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She must be so nervous or scared or both!

Probably. It's definitely a vastly different environment than she must be used to from her own school, plus she's meeting tons of new people all at once and they're all speaking a language she doesn't understand.

How are the other students reacting to her?

I think the girl being her host sister is doing a good job seeing that she always gets where she needs to go. I don't know about the other students, but I don't think they talk to her much, because 1) they're embarrassed to speak English, and 2) she seems uncomfortable answering even in English anyway. There may be two or three brave students willing to ask her things, but Japanese students mostly care about movies and singers, and the exchange student is much more into books, so they have a clash of values.

If she bonds with someone that will be a huge help.

It probably would be, though it's hard to overcome shyness in only 10 days.
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:July 6th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
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it's hard to overcome shyness in only 10 days

The 10-day exchange seems odd to me. It's more like a vacation...with school.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:July 6th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
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The 10-day exchange seems odd to me. It's more like a vacation...with school.

That's what I think, too. The problem is, although lots of Japanese kids want to live in America, it's hard to get American kids to want to spend an entire school year in Japan. (Unless they're diehard manga fans like the Hawaiian exchange student we just had...she didn't want to go home. And even manga fans can now get their fix in English a lot more easily, so there's less motivation to do all the work of living in a foreign country following MUCH stricter school rules.) Making it a shorter exchange is a compromise.

Plus I imagine it's a lot cheaper.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:July 6th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
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The 10-day exchange seems odd to me. It's more like a vacation...with school.

They're quite common, though, because you can get a lot of the benefits of an exchange, but without the commitment of leaving your life behind for a year. For a lot of people, exchanges are better than a vacation, because you get to do a lot of things that even many Japanese people don't get to do, because your host organization will arrange fun things for you. Also, you get to meet a lot of new people; there are those that keep in touch with former host families for years. And you get lots of presents, although I'm sure no one would join an exchange program for that.
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