Thus far, I have used “So Far West, It’s East” to document only the sun-shines and rainbows of my new life in Japan. I have recounted beautiful Japanese beaches here and fascinating Japanese traditions there. Although it may appear that my new life falls somewhere under the category of dream vacation, I am, in fact, not on an extended vacation. I have a real job that includes real working hours and real accountability.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly have enjoyed adapting to a new workplace. The teachers and students have all been extraordinarily kind and welcoming. However, because I arrived just as the school year resumed, I was literally thrown into a whirlwind of responsibilities including planning lessons, supervising English club, correcting essays and coaching speech contest participants. There was zero time to learn the ropes. My only option was to grab the reigns and go.
Essay and speech contests are held in autumn of each year. The final speech contest was held last weekend. Until then, I stayed late after school every day to coach students. Even though I enjoyed working with the students and feeling like a (relatively) important member of the staff, the late nights were downright draining. However, today I received a letter that instantaneously gave me the spunk I would need to do it all again.
Until a few months ago, I had never planned a lesson or taught English as a second language. Often, I thought that I was in far, far too deep. But, today, I received a handmade thank you card from one of my students. I couldn’t have been happier. I realized that although teaching may sometimes require long hours and added effort, forming relationships with individual students and watching their successes truly is rewarding.