After yet another two days of ceremonies, the new school year in Japan has officially started!
The 14 new teaching staff at my school started work on April 1, but the 2nensei and 3nensei students (last year’s 1nensei and 2nensei) didn’t officially meet them until Monday at the welcome ceremony. In all the Japanese formality, the students sat in their perfect rows and columns in the gym, sang the school song, and bowed as each teacher gave a short self-introduction. Despite its formality, it was nice to see the students again after hardly seeing them for two weeks!
On Tuesday, we had the entrance ceremony for the new 1nensei. From what I could tell, the entrance ceremony is almost as big of a deal as the graduation ceremony. The gym was decorated and all of the teachers wore their best suits. The women teachers even wore large (fake) flowers on their lapels, just like at graduation. There were several practices and rehearsals, including the singing of four songs, and on the morning of the entrance ceremony, the teachers spent 30 minutes making sure that all of the 2nensei and 3nensei’s chairs were perfectly placed – and I mean down to the millimeter!
(One of the songs sung at both the graduation and entrance ceremonies, “Daichi Sanshou.”)
The entrance ceremony didn’t start until after lunch. The parents of the 1nensei showed up in their expensive suits and… house slippers?! (In Japan, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of fashion rules when it comes to indoor shoes.) Members of the PTA were there, too. Again, the ceremony was very formal – a lot of standing and singing and sitting and bowing. At one point, the 1nensei homeroom teachers “took attendance”, calling out the name of each new student who would then yell “Hai!” (essentially, “here!”) and quickly stand up. Then we listened to speeches, stood up, sang some more, sat down, stood up, and then clapped as the 1nensei students left the gymnasium. They officially entered junior high school!
To be honest, I have no idea what’s going on for the rest of this week – all of the students are in school, but classes don’t actually start until next Monday. Then, the students will write tests on Tuesday (tests already?! Welcome to JHS, 1nensei!), and classes will continue from Wednesday. I’ve been spending most of the spring break and this week studying Japanese, reading the JET forums, and trying to look busy when, really, all I’m doing is sitting at my desk and drinking copious amounts of tea all day. ;)
From browsing the forums, I noticed that the acceptance e-mails and letters for the 2014 JET Programme are going out. Reading how excited people are at finding out that they’ve been shortlisted reminded me of how excited I felt when I received my e-mail. I can’t believe that it’s been a whole year since I found out I would be moving to Japan! I still remember it (and all of the emotions that came with it!) like it was yesterday.
To everyone who’s been shortlisted, congratulations! To the alternates, don’t give up hope! And to those who were rejected, if JET is something you really want to do, then make the effort and reapply! Seriously, it’s worth it. :)