Wednesday, 22 September 2010

From the far east...

Friends, family, acquaintances, and random denizens of the world wide web - welcome to my blog. Having left Amherst's bucolic hills for my next adventure in village of Arida on the Pacific coast of Japan, I find myself struggling to communicate the many strange and wonderful happenings here to those dear to me back in the States (and elsewhere). Hopefully, this blog will go a long way towards fixing that.

Without further ado: 

Prologue -  Arida 

In a certain shallow valley of the foothills of Wakayama, Japan runs the Aridagawa river, broad and shallow. Where the Aridawagawa meets the sea lies Arida city, nestled comfortably between hillside orange groves and the great Pacific. A sign downtown proclaims "みかんの里," "The Mandarin Orange Hamlet," and it is true that the diminutive fruit, along with a the fruits of the sea and an unexpected oil refinery, is a cornerstone of the local economy. My boss tells me that the hills will bloom bright orange in the coming weeks as the harvest ripens (expect photos when it happens!).

Along with two other strapping young men from the USA, I teach English at the eleven elementary and junior high schools of this little city. Contrary to my expectations (fears) of a drone-like corporate existence, teaching at these country schools is surprisingly stress-less. For example, I spend much of today in the teacher's room of an elementary school chatting with the jovial office lady (a distinctively Japanese  position that combines the duties of secretary and attentive housewife), who insisted on feeding my excessive amounts of Japanese sweets. The classes themselves vary greatly, but suffice it to say for now that there is nothing quite like teaching very young children, so utterly curious and un-self-conscious. Their favorite Carter-related activity is seeing how many of their classmates I can lift with my two arms (four at last count, though I had to stop when my back started making strange cracking noises...) Their second favorite Carter-related activity as making loud, random comments about my appearance. (In Japanese:) "Big!" "Tall!" "You have wide nostrils!" , for example.

I planned a much more ambitious beginning, but my bed beckons after a long day of teaching, snack-chomping, biking, swimming, and watching far too much japanese food-themed television. Goodnight friends, and expect more soon.



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