Today was my last day at Kurosaki Elementary School. I had a feeling that it would be good. The staff at this school has always been amazing. But I had no idea HOW incredible they were going to make my last day.
I arrive and all the teachers are in a meeting. So I sit down quietly. Then some guy knocks on the door and peeks in, and the principal and vice-principal immediately freak out and run to the door frantically closing it behind them. It's hilarious.
Next, Harima-sensei, who helps with English, gives me my schedule. EVERY PERIOD IS FULL. First-grade class, Tanabata party, 2 periods with 5th grade, lunch, 2 periods with 6th grade. So next thing I know, I'm running off to a class full of first graders, which is always adorable. Next, we have the Tanabata Party.
Tanabata is a Japanese festival, though I think it might be celebrated in China in some form as well. It occurs on the seventh day of the seventh month and is supposed to correspond with the yearly meeting of two particular stars in the sky. The story goes that there was once a princess who wove beautiful cloth, but then she fell in love with a cow-herder, they married, and after that neither of them worked any longer. The girl's father was very angry, so he separated them. She was so unhappy, she begged that they could meet again, so her father allowed them to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month. However, if it's cloudy they can't meet. People in Japan celebrate it by writing wishes on paper and hanging the paper from bamboo trees.
In our case, the trees were drawn on paper in the school gym :) It's my first time celebrating because I was clueless and missed it last year. After we hang our wishes, we play a card-exchange game with cut-out stars. Super fun. Then we sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with a fancy new verse that possibly only exists in Japan :P
So the party's winding down, and then they give me this enormous bouquet of flowers, and then my 5th graders make a bilingual speech! And then all the students line up in two rows and sing "Goodbye to you" to the tune of "Happy Birthday" as I walk along between them. *sigh* The tears come. But the truth is, I'm too happy to actually cry. It's too wonderful and perfect to cry.
Alright, I'm sick of using present tense to explain this. So, back to normal narrative... ;)
My incredible Interac JTE coordinated with Harima-sensei to do a cooking lesson on my last day. So I already knew I would be spending two periods with 5th grade making lemonade and 2 periods with 6th grade in the afternoon doing the same thing. We had worked out the recipe ahead of time and my JTE got all the ingredients together. And they told the students that today was English-only, so between hand motions and English, I explained to them what to do. You may ask, how is lemonade difficult? Super easy, right? Well, it is super easy, but we put the extra work into it to do it right. I had them boil some water and dissolve the sugar ahead of time, and then each one of them got to tackle the lemon juicing process.
Then I showed them how to cut the lemons into slices and stick them on the side of the cup. Such a great lesson! And so delicious! They loved it.
The most hilarious part of the day though? Watching my 6th grade students peer-pressure each other into giving me really, really awkward hugs and then cheering each other afterwards. It was incredible. I was laughing/smiling so hard that my skull started hurting! Japan! You're so crazy!!!!!
Ah. It was lovely and wonderful. Such a good day. They even had Hagen Dazs ice cream in the staff freezer. :) And last of all, I took a pretty funny photo with the staff. They insisted that I sit in a chair in front and hold my flowers. lol.
Lovely, lovely, lovely.