Today, I met the other half of my new students at my base school. It being their first lesson with me, the bulk of the lesson was designed around a sort of self-introduction on my part.
We did some fun warm-ups, – I must say that there is nothing quite like watching a group of girls suddenly start waving their hands in the air, shouting, “Money! Moneyyyy! Moneyyy!” over and over again – followed by a PowerPoint of ten fun questions about me. No, these kids don’t know me or much anything about me beyond what can be seen, but that’s the whole fun of having them decide answers to questions about me. I set it up, of course, in a natural flow of easy answers in the beginning and complex ones by the end. So, things like my height, my eye color, whether I can eat natto (a local specialty that foreigners typically not only hate, but cannot even manage to eat), pets and siblings, places I’ve lived and languages I speak…, those sorts of things. It does a rather good job of giving me a feel for the students’ abilities and comfort levels with English, as well as allowing them to have and understand a somewhat well-rounded background for me (even if it is a rather well-rounded background that only tells them that there is a whole lot more to me than could be expected, and that I’m totally awesome and utterly weird compared to what they’re used to having in their daily lives here).
That being said, – this is a kind of long set-up, I know, but bear with me – one might think that students would have all sorts of questions to ask me about me and my life. And they actually do, really. However, they all have a desire greater than wanting to know more information about me, something they want to do first. And that desire is the point of this set-up.
This afternoon, after school, I was walking across the outdoor walkway, heading to pick up something across the school grounds. One of the students from one of today’s classes happened to be walking in the opposite direction on the walkway. As our paths began to cross, I greeted him, as I usually do with my kids, and he responded happily. However, he had an air of hesitation about him, and so I paused with raised eyebrows to see what was up.
He stood silently at first, but soon began, “Could you…,” mumbles in Japanese, then mumbles, “… show me…,” before coming out with the full sentence, “Could you show me… your eyes?”
I kid you not – this is Japan. Being accustomed to the never-ending desire my students all seem to have to gaze into my blue eyes, I smiled brightly, granted him an, “Of course!”, and opened my eyes wide. The sun just might have given them a bit of a sparkle for this little guy to enjoy. For a good, true five seconds, he stared, amazed, at my eyes. Then, having verified the truth of my blue eyes, he thanked me and said his goodbye, heading off on his original path.
Adorable. Just plain adorable, these kiddos.