Signe is working hard four days a week now at two jobs. She really likes the work, but it is keeping her busy. Every week she has to stay overnight one night in another town, since the commute is over two hours. She seems to really be enjoying it though. We have been busy almost every weekend either going to events or visiting with friends. I think we are going to have a pretty good holiday season here.
We have been going to all sorts of get-togethers recently. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Signe and I attended a large Thanksgiving feast held in the capital of Shimane, Matsue. There were over two hundred people there, foreigners and Japanese alike. The event was held by Mike and Nina and the proceeds went to buy food and supplies for small minority villages in Vietnam. We watched a video of a group of Shimane JET participants going to Vietnam to help. It made me feel as if I should be doing more in the world, but perhaps one day I will.
Since I am a local TV star with my own monthly English conversation show, I thought I would try out for a part in a film project being done by some of the high school ALTs. The theme is six high school friends in an international school. The goal is to use simple English to show Japanese high school kids what a foreign school is like. I am trying out for the part of a high school student, but I am not really an actor, so I don't think I will get the position. Only time will tell.
Trev's Art Group
The JET Art Group Shimane, or JAGS, has started to prepare once again for the annual show in June. I will once again assume the role of treasurer for the group as we try to raise enough money to hold the event again this year. I really had a good time last year, especially during the event. I was there to set up and tear down the event at the Shimane Art Museum, and it was a great experience. With any luck this tradition will continue on long after I have left Shimane.
Winter is the season for get-togethers with friends, hanging out under blankets, watching movies, and playing games. Signe and I are both going to be in Japan for the holidays and we are looking forward to hanging out with everybody here this winter season. There are a few parties we are going to for sure, a Hanukkah party, a Christmas party, etc. We haven't decided on what to do for New Years' though. We are thinking about going to Kobe or the sand museum in Nima. It is still up in the air.
Work has been busy this month. November is the month for culture festivals and school open houses, so I have been to the open house presentations for both local elementary schools and the junior high school culture festival. I have also been teaching English at the local elementary schools once a month, as well. I love teaching at elementary schools because the kids are very energetic and unafraid of talking with me. My junior high school days are also nice, but they are missing the interaction with the students I get at elementary schools.
Trev's Human Rights
Yesterday, like I did last year and the year before, I was transformed into a human rights worker for a day. I drove all around town visiting businesses, schools, and post offices handing out pamphlets about human rights and free apples to people. I do this every year because from December 4th to December 10th is Human Rights Week in Japan. It is a time when schools and businesses take some time out of their week to teach and learn about human rights, like being nice to others and sexual harassment. One thing that is emphasized in Japan about human rights is being respectful of foreigners. Japan is a very homogenous society, and many people, especially in the country, don't ever see foreign people. It is important to educate Japanese to be polite to foreigners. For example, I was handing out pamphlets in town and some people got off a bus and just started taking pictures of me without asking first. I consider that rude, and I think anyone would think the same if a total stranger came up to you and took your picture but said nothing to you. I'm not a monkey! Japanese people tend to not grasp this concept.
Things are going AOK on the computer front. I have a news ticker program on my work computer, so I can see the latest news when I am sitting at my desk. I played the Civilization IV Demo and it was really fun, I might get it one day. I have been in a game playing mood lately. I try to jump on Achaea, which is a MUD or text-based multiplayer role playing game, whenever I can, but I make sure not to commit myself to anything that will take too much time away from real life.
I continue to study for the Foreign Service Written Exam. I am currently reading up on U.S. history, but my essay writing skills are seriously lacking. I recently wrote an article on free speech for the Shimane JET news letter, The Black Taxi, but I think it was sub-par. I really have to practice my writing skills a lot more, but that is only one thing I have to do. There is so much I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I am also working some on my Japanese, learning kanji from flashcards and the such, but it is not taking a front seat these days.
Trev's One-Point Japanese Lesson
So you want to learn some Japanese? That's great! Let's review how to conjugate verbs.
In polite speech, Japanese verb conjugation is relatively easy. In the polite form all verbs end in -masu (-masu is sometimes pronounced -mas, the last u can fall silent), thus this is sometimes revered to as the -masu form. Let's look at the four tenses using the verb tabe-masu (to eat):
Present positive tense: tabe-masu
Present negative tense: tabe-masen
Past positive tense: tabe-mashita
Past negative tense: tabe-masen deshita
There is no future tense in Japanese, so when talking about future events we use the present form, usually with some indication of time:
konban, ramen o tabe-masu.
I will eat rse and English. You can also listen to my blog by clicking on the "audio recording" links at the site. And, finally, if you have some free time, drop me a line. I always like hearing from you.
Until next time,