school

Last Day

My darling students,

I want you to know that anything is possible. Until I was 9 years old, I couldn’t speak a single world of the English language. Now, I am standing before you as your English teacher, delivering my goodbye speech in English. There is no better proof than this.

I also want you to know that the world is a big big place. There is so much to see and do out there. I promise you that if you persevere, you can experience things you’ve never even imagined. Believe me, I am speaking from experience.

ありがとうございました

PS the third picture, is my face carved out of an ERASER! Can you believe that? My goodness. I am officially a super sensei. Today was hard. Though I have been ready to move on for a while now, I am not heartless. I will remember these guys and the sweet memories we shared forever. My only wish is that I positively impacted their lives in some way, just as my own teachers, for me, did.

Actually, my favorite teacher was Mr. Payne. I remember wanting so bad to be his favorite student and getting super jealous when he paid other students attention! That’s how much I loved him! I remember the day we ate McDonalds together whilst running an errand, and I remember the day he told me he knew that at High School I would become Head Girl or if not, that I’d be successful in whatever I did. Some 15 years later, and his belief in me is still one of my sources of encouragement.  image[3]
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“Those of the Elven-race that lived still in Middle-earth waned and faded, and Men usurped the sunlight. Then the Quendi wandered in the lonely places of the great lands and the isles, and took to the moonlight and the starlight, and to the woods and caves, becoming as shadows and memories, save those who ever and anon set sail into the West and vanished from Middle-earth.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

The Truth Behind The American Vs Japanese School Lunch Comparison

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This video comparing American vs Japanese school lunch, really upsets me. It is clearly bias, with it’s sole motive being to shame US food habits.

From an insider living and working in Japan, let me tell you, drinking dairy milk every single day, is not good for anyone’s health. The big white bread roll seen on the Japanese lunch tray, is full of sugar and perservatives and tastes more like a cake than a bread. In fact, brown bread or multi-grain bread here is almost non-existent and only sold at speciality bakeries – definitely not traditional Japanese ones. Moreover, the THREE schools I teach at, have a no fresh-food rule as in the past apparently one child died from eating a rotten fresh cucumber. So, in my schools everything is either fried or pickled. And the meat is almost always processed in the form of patties and sausages.

Yes, occasionally there will be a healthy soup or a healthy fish dish on the lunch tray, but that is not everyday. What’s more, whale is sometimes served as apparently it is Japanese “tradition”. Please don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Last week in our cooking class, my students learnt how to make fried donuts (fried, in buckets of oil), the week before, Japanese red bean paste sweets laden with sugar and before that, yaki soba, fried noodles with processed meat and sauce from the supermarket.

In all fairness, I have never been to America so I cannot comment on their lunch system…
All I’m saying is that every story has two sides to it.

What I Think of the Japanese School Lunch System

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Personally, I don’t agree with the Japanese school lunch system because I think it’s unhealthy and processed. For example, nothing raw ever features on it. This is, I was told by one of the teachers because someone once got sick from fresh cucumber. Which is why everything is pickled, fried and lathered in perservativey sauces. Also, last week they ate whale and that really fucked me off.

Alas, like all things, there are two sides to the system. One of the good things about school-lunch is that everyone starts eating together. Which is a really sweet sight, to see ravenous kids politely waiting to commence demolition with their pals.

The other positive about school lunch is their attempt at internationalizing the dishes. I say attempt because some of the things that show up are plain ridiculous. “hot dogs”, “hamburgers” and “gratin” which are nothing like you’d expect. Today, school lunch was “Indian” curry served with naan bread which brought so much excitement to everyone’s faces that two teachers even took photos of it (yeah yeah, I know, it’s Asia, everyone photographs their meals but no, not school lunch guys, that’s one thing that’s not worth the click. Sorry lunch chefs :/). So yeah, I think that aspect of school lunch is a positive, especially for these inaka (countryside) kids. Cos God forbid they turn out like my Kiwi high-school math teacher and try Chinese food for the first time at 55!

If you are blessed enough to have an abundance of food choices, you should totes venture out. Food is culture, guys!

Image stolen from HERE. Hope you don’t mind, Miss.

japanese noodle water slide (nagashi somen)


Technically, I’m not allowed to post anything about my students or my work on social media – even though yesterday I posted a picture of cut watermelon (red and yellow – redandyellow redandyellow redandyellow) on my work desk, on Facebook. Woops. But I swear we work hard! I mean, it’s the bloody school holidays and we’re still here slaving away – Japanese style (work hard, play hard or just work hard).

Anyways, my recent staff lunch experience of nagashi somen, literally: “flowing noodle” or as I like to call it “noodle water slide” was too good not to share! So, if I get fired/deported for this, then so be it.

During the hothotheat of summer, the Japanese take playing with your food to a whole new level. Aquatic, to be exact.  Families split bamboo reeds in half and prop them up like slides in their backyards. A hose is placed at one end of the contraption and handfuls of cold boiled somen are dropped into the water. The host yells “Ikuyo!” and the noodles shoot forth. The aim of the game then, is to catch your dinner using chopsticks before it slides/flows away! Seriously, what the hell. Why eat noodles (stationary) out of pot or a bowl when you can slide them high-speed down bamboo? Japan, I love you.

If you already struggle with chopsticks then I recommend you watch from the sidewalk or do as my young colleague did, position yourself at the end of the slide (taking the place of the bowl/bucket which catches the uncaught noodles) and use your mouth to directly catch your dinner (and your weekly recommendation of H2O) caveman style -okay, now I’m definitely getting sacked.

We served our deliciously cool and refreshing somen with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions, ginger and sliced ham all topped with tsuyu, a rich condiment made of shoyu (soy sauce) and dashi (fish stock).

SO MUCH FUN