Okay, so it's official: I'll be headed back to America come late summer. After a lot of agonizing internal debate, I've elected not to renew my contract with the JET Program for another year. This was a difficult decision, because I have no real complaints about my position here; I have a great school, great coworkers, (mostly) great students, great friends, and a pretty sweet apartment. Moreover, I know that at least two out of my three closest friends are staying, and possibly all three of them. (If Neil will make up his mind, already!)
So really, my decision is not because I want to leave Japan, or any of the people here. I'd love to stay. (And/or airlift all my favorite people back to the States with me.) However, there are other things I want to do, too, and one of those things is to go back to grad school and get my teacher certification. As my plan stands now, I'm going to apply to a school in the Atlanta area, and if all goes well, start classes next spring.
I feel some guilt about leaving, because many people at my school have often and vocally expressed their wishes for me to stay, but I am at least relieved to say that Paul has decided to recontract. As long as he's here, I don't feel quite so bad, because he can train the new hire and generally hold down the fort. (Had we both left, which very nearly happened, it would have been a little bit crippling for our department -- they've come to rely on we AETs for a lot of lesson planning and various support. I'd hate to throw two totally green teachers at them when they're so busy already!)
For now I feel pretty good about this decision, though come July I'll probably be crying everyday. Already I'm making plans to try and keep in touch with my school in a meaningful way. And as for the students, well, thank goodness that my unofficially favorite class has recently discovered facebook!
So, that's that. On a slightly more frivolous note, here's some more cute student stories! Brought to you by class 2-5's country project presentations.
First, from Vatican City (which couldn't fail to be hilarious, as explained by clueless Japanese teenagers). Their presentation was fine, actually, until the Q&A. That class just so happened to have a German exchange student named Anja, who raised her hand and asked, "Do you know the pope's name, and what country he's from?"
Immediately, the girls starting sending each other panicked looks. Clearly, they don't know, so Paul starts mouthing "Germany!" at them. Saki, their de facto spokesperson, squints at him for a minute before proudly declaring, "His name is Pope Tommy!"
I'm still not sure the rest of the class fully understands why suddenly all four teachers (and Anja) burst into delighted laughter.
And Italy had a moment which was comical, and yet, sort of true. Upon listing their country's exports, the Italy group listed such gems as, "Wine, machines, and the mafia."