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Amparo Bertram

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07:49 pm: Wedding bells and cancer cells
The big news of the day is the wedding of the emperor's daughter to a commoner. This means she gets kicked out of the royal family and now has to live like a normal person, paying taxes and all the rest. The emperor and his wife both attended the wedding, which is apparently unprecedented.

In honor of this, I talked about American-style weddings (in a broad sense) to a couple of my classes. All Japanese girls know the word "bride." In the three classes I talked to, however, only one student knew the word "groom." The thing that caught the most attention was the tradition of the guests giving wedding presents to the couple. In a Japanese wedding, the couple gives gifts to the guests, and the guests just hand over envelopes of cash.

After school, one of the other English teachers approached my desk with, "Can I ask a question?" Now, this is not an unusual occurrence. Generally I'm asked whether a particular sentence is correct, or some such grammatical tidbit.

This time, the teacher showed me a two-page typed description of using genetic therapy in the form of "suicide genes" carried by viral vectors to combat glioblastoma (brain cancer) cells...and asked me to explain it for a student.

Whoo, boy. It's lucky for her I'm a genetics major.

It seems that this student is planning to take a test for some kind of award...or something. This paper was practice for the test. The student is supposed to read the paper (in English) and answer six true/false questions about it at the end. I'd say the paper was AP Biology level. The average ALT probably wouldn't have had a clue what it was talking about. The reading comprehension questions on the test I had to take in order to be certified as a biology teacher were easier. It was quite a task to explain it in simple enough terms that the other teacher could understand sufficiently to translate it into appropriate Japanese. I had to draw several (color-coded) diagrams to get the major points across.

Whew. I don't know what award the student is trying to get, but they certainly have high standards.

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Date:November 15th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC)

Oh, my goodness!

I hope the award included a full-ride scholarship with summers in Hawai'i! That is amazing. For that particular student, this may be the whole reason that you are the ALT there now! Can you imagine being that good in foreign languages to be able to pick up on such technical stuff!

For weddings, we were duly impressed when the exchange teacher from Japan brought her wedding pictures and showed how she dressed in different outfits--kimono, what we are used to, and something else-- on her wedding day.

It's all so fascinating.
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