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Amparo Bertram

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04:12 pm: The more things change
A lot has been going on this month, and I've been bad about keeping updated. (I blame Brewfest...too much ram racing...)

On October 1st, the Japanese postal system officially became privatized. I haven't gone to the post office since the change, so I don't know how much it will affect me. I haven't checked into whether postal rates will be changing or anything. I imagine I'll find out eventually.

On the same day, my local bookstore started a 1% cash back program for all of their books and comics. It's not much, but hey, it's certainly better than nothing--especially considering how much money I spend there.

The supermarket next to the bookstore gained a new bakery, a branch of a large bakery on the other side of town that I rarely visit because it's out of my way for pretty much everything. The new branch didn't have a huge selection when I peeked in the window, but that may be because it just opened.

The school festival went well this year, though it was slightly different from previous years in that only the upperclassmen were allowed to do stage presentations. I've given detailed reports on the school festival in previous years, so here I'll just do a general overview.

The first two days of the festival were the "cultural" part. The first-year students mostly had prepared short films that they aired in their classrooms, though one class made an elaborate 3D representation of the four seasons that visitors could walk through. As an example, here is the model of spring, showing a hanami (cherry blossom viewing party).

The second- and third-year students gave various stage presentations. Some put on skits, either original or adapted from other sources, such as this performance of Grease [video file]. Others did more traditional performances, such as this class, which played taiko drums [video file] and danced the souran-bushi [video file].

Student clubs put up displays or demonstrations of their club activities, such as this display by the calligraphy (shodou) club or this demonstration by the tea ceremony (sadou) club.

Sports teams and the PTA had booths where they sold various snacks, such as yakisoba (fried noodles) or onigiri (rice balls). The students then ate their purchases while sitting on the grass in front of a platform where various students gave volunteer performances of singing and music.

The third day was the sports day portion of the event. Students were divided up into five teams, each assigned a different color. (My English major students were part of the Red Team.) They held a number of different sports events. One example was a kind of relay race in which the students had to run while doing various tasks, such as bouncing a ping-pong ball or linking elbows with a friend. Another event was the ball toss in which each team tried to toss as many of its color beanbags into a basket as possible during a certain time interval.

The central feature of the sports competition was the "cheer." Each team was given about ten minutes to give a performance showing their spirit. The teams had been practicing their performances for days. Each "cheer" began with the students bowing to the spectators (teachers, parents, and other students). They then usually did several dances, though some teams found ways to make their performances unique. The green team, for example, had the students all carry colored squares that they flipped in a synchronized fashion to spell out messages. The cheers were too long for me to record all the performances, but here is an excerpt of the red team cheer [video file].

In unrelated news, the sun has been setting earlier and earlier. At the moment, it's setting at around the same time I go home every day, so I get to see sights like this.

In even more unrelated news, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, for the past two weeks I've been spending most of my evenings participating in the Brewfest (based on Oktoberfest) event in World of Warcraft. You had to do certain tasks (like ram racing) every day to win tickets, and the tickets could then be used to purchase prizes. I managed to get the grand prize (a ram mount) for four of my characters (counting megory's paladin Guapoton), plus other random prizes for several other characters.

This week the Hallow's End event begins...

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[User Picture]
Date:October 19th, 2007 11:00 am (UTC)
That's a lot of news.

I wonder how the change of guard at the post office affects its banking services.

1% cash back is always good news. It all adds up.

Your festival sounds awesome. What a practicum in team decision making and team work! It is so amazing that this is all student-led and student-planned and student-practiced and student-performed. I just can't imagine our students pulling something like that together with full participation. All the school events I witness here have a nucleus of supporters who lead and follow, some lookers on, and a lot of deserters. It's just not the same kind of team spirit.

Could you list all the clubs that your school has? Those are also student-initiated, right?

The sunsets are beautiful. But I guess that means you will soon be biking home in the dark, huh? Be sure your lights and reflectors are on. (Sorry, that's mom talk.)

Congratulations on getting all those rams! I am hoping someone will help me get the brooms in the new event. I'm not too ready to take on a level 75 elite.

[User Picture]
Date:October 19th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
Could you list all the clubs that your school has?

Let's see...

Flower arranging
Tea ceremony
Design (sewing)
Shougi ("Japanese chess")
Social research (investigates societal problems)

American football
Table tennis
Track and field

...I think there are baseball and softball and soccer teams, but I can't remember for certain. There used to be archery and karate teams, but I think those went away when Ritsumeikan took over, possibly due to lack of members.

Those are also student-initiated, right?

Every club has a faculty advisor (or two), but judging from the amount I did as advisor for the ESS club (plus what I saw when visiting other club meetings), they don't do much.
[User Picture]
Date:October 20th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
Oops, I forgot the performance clubs. There's a drama club, a music club, and a baton twirling club.
[User Picture]
Date:October 20th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks. That's an amazing list. How do they fund all the things people do during their club activities? Are advisers ever paid?
[User Picture]
Date:October 20th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
How do they fund all the things people do during their club activities?

Each club is alotted a certain amount of money every year. The English club has used their money to go to Kyoto to interview foreigners and to buy American movies on DVD for the students to watch.

Are advisers ever paid?

Not that I'm aware. At least, I've never been paid.
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Then, in order to start a club, do you have to write a proposal and submit it to the principal and/or the board of education to be eligible to receive the funding?

Do all requests for a club start with the students' request, or does a faculty member think of an idea and recruit students?
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
Then, in order to start a club, do you have to write a proposal and submit it to the principal and/or the board of education to be eligible to receive the funding?

I honestly don't know. I think (and this is from seeing various handouts with expense reports--including back in Niigata--though I didn't read them closely) the school puts the student council in charge of distributing funds. The student council decides how much money goes where...not just for clubs, but for school events as well. The student council then writes up the expense reports, which are copied and handed out to all the teachers. (I have to emphasize that I didn't investigate this matter, it's only my impression from circumstantial evidence.)

I don't know how clubs are started, really. There is a technical difference between a "club" (部) and a "group of students who like the same thing" (同好会). The latter is for groups that don't have enough members (like fewer than 5) to be an official club. I believe (though I'm not positive about this) that only clubs receive funding, while "groups" don't. (I think the only "group" at our school is the anime "group.")

Other than the food booths at the school festival (where the various items are sold for $1-2), I've never seen clubs doing fund raisers of any kind. (Well, to benefit themselves, that is. Some clubs collect donations and such for disaster relief and other causes.)

Do all requests for a club start with the students' request, or does a faculty member think of an idea and recruit students?

I've never seen students start a club on their own, though that's probably because most clubs were either already started when I came or were started intentionally by Ritsumeikan (like the football club, which they started to gain recruits for their university football team).

There was one club (the social research club) that died out because its members (seniors) all graduated, so the faculty advisor was the only one left to recruit incoming freshmen. I don't think that counts as starting a new club, though.
[User Picture]
Date:October 24th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
That's very interesting. Here I'm only aware of our clubs and organizations controling money they raise themselves. Our middle school student council does raise a lot of money for charity. They get to decide where it is spent. They sometimes buy a gift for the school.

Well, their system seems to work very well for them. I am impressed.
[User Picture]
Date:October 19th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
That is some sunset. (Do you go around with a camera, or is that from a phone?)

The festival pictures bring back memories. The best part of school festivals is when you get to just waltz in & visit, without having to go through all the prep stress. :P
[User Picture]
Date:October 19th, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
Do you go around with a camera, or is that from a phone?

I had my camera in my purse from having taken pictures at the festival.
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