Mid-Year Conference and the Three Day Hang Over

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wednesday marked the beginning of the Mid-Year Conference. This is a time when all the JETs (CIRs and ALTs) get together in Kochi city to discuss...issues for three days. JTE/JTLs (Japanese Language teachers/Japanese Teachers of Language...wtf?) were also invited but only about 20 showed up and let's put it this way, there are about 100 total ALTs and CIRs and I alone have a total of 8 JTEs. One of them showed up to the conference which I was very pleased about but let's begin at the beginning, shall we?

As you all know, I am now finished teaching my third year students. To tell you the truth, this is really their last week of classes but I only taught on Monday and Tuesday of this week, so I missed out of the last three days that I had with them because of this conference. I'm not complaining, it's just a fact.

Wednesday morning I hopped an 8:13 train to Kochi city. I told Adam that the train would be leaving at 8:15 but them emailed him back and told him it was really 8:13. Why would I do such a ridiculous thing, you ask? Because at exactly 8:13 I saw Adam running through the gates just as the train was about to leave the station and I knew this was normal.

We got into Kochi at 8:42 but had about 45 minutes to get to where we needed to be so we took our time getting there. It was surprisingly warm for a January morning so it really wasn't that bad wandering around the city that was still waking up. We watched the famous Kochi clock which chimes every hour and lasts for about 10 minutes of song and dance. We walked into a convenience store and saw a whole muji section! Muji is a hipster store that sells just about everything from furniture to snacks, to clothes and it's all in a grey and black shade. The convenience store had socks, underwear, undershirts, ties, and chocolate covered banana chips. I got the latter ;)

We got to the conference just in time (because I was following Adam) and enjoyed a day of daydreaming and lesson planning. Actually, in the second half of the day, we were split into groups of school types (3 groups of Junior High School and 1 group of Senior High School) and then split into smaller groups. Every group had 2 JTEs and 4 ALTs. We had more JTEs than the JHS because all our JTEs were SHS anyway!

So we were given a scenario of a classroom and lesson idea (20 boys, medium level, well behaved, lesson idea: directions) and told we had one hour to make a lesson plan and create materials for it. A person in our group decided to use a lesson idea that she had just used and had worked well which was basically a Dance Dance Revolution way of teaching the different directions (turn left/right, stop, go straight, etc). The dance was so much fun that we ended up winning the award for best lesson among SHS and got to perform our whole thing in front of the entire conference. And you know we made them dance too!

The end of the day rolled around and everyone was released to party. It was a huge gaijin fest and I wanted to be a part of it but unfortunately I had to go home to teach my English Conversation class. I could have killed someone at that moment but Matt (the PA) decided to save the official party for Thursday since it seemed that so many ALTs couldn't make it for Wednesday (Yesssssssss) and everyone went off and did their own thing.

Keep in mind that these are all the ALTs and CIRs from all over Kochi. Half these people I never see because they are too far away to come into the city more than a few times in the year. I really wanted to hang out!

So I went home instead. By the time I got there, I had about 30 minutes to prepare my lesson and get going. That meant no time for food. I got to the class and didn't even use my lesson. At 9pm, I hopped into a taxi and rode $10 up the road to an Izakaya (drinking restaurant) to meet up with Ikuo, Sayuri, Fumiko and whomever else they decided they wanted to invite.

They had already eaten by the time I had gotten there and I assumed since it was so late that they were probably going to be leaving soon, so I didn't order any food. I was given a ChuHi and sat in for a very nice evening where I tried not to fall asleep (I was exhausted by this time and it was a very bad idea not to have eaten)

12:30 rolled around and we finally went home with me starving, tired, and drunk on one drink (hind sight it always 20/20)

Day 1 of Mid-Year Conference and the Three Day hang over: End

I woke up the next morning again and hopped the 8:13 train. As it was pulling out of the station, I waved to Adam who was just 20 seconds too late.

Once at the conference, we sat around and listened to lectures and did more lesson planning. At the end of it all, I went out and got dinner with a couple of people and waited around until 7:30 went the Nomihodai began.

The word Nomihodai sounds like a Japanese Texan word. Ho-dai (hoe-dah-ee) sounds like a ho-down, aka a party. And Nomi is for drinking. So it was a drinking ho-down. HAHAHAHAHA

Basically a Nomihodai is a flat fee where you can drink all you want for 2 hours. The place was full of ALTs and CIRs only and the room could fit about 25 people comfortably. The bar was also a little understaffed so it took about 30 seconds to get a beer (of which they had Heineken and Corona, wee) and 20 minutes to get a mixed drink.

In the course of two hours and on a full stomach, I drank 3 1/2 drinks (one beer, baileys Irish cream on the rocks, coconut run on the rocks, and half of someones beer that I stole from them in a flirtatious manner). I got quite drunk. But I must say, it's the first time that I have really REALLY enjoyed myself while inebriated.

I decided to go home at 10 since the train leaves at 10:30. It doesn't take a half hour to bike there but I didn't trust myself to make it there in a decent time. Adam decided to stay the night in the city since there was still Karaoke planned and more drinking.

On the train home, I realized that I couldn't see straight and if I didn't do something drastic I was going to throw up. So I read my emails via Keitai.

In a desperate attempt to waste time, I emailed Dave and sent him a lovely drunken email that went along the lines of "I love you, I miss you, I'm drunk" blah blah, you know the drill.

Got home at 11:00pm and was asleep by 11:10.

Day 2 of Mid-Year Conference and the Three Day hang over: End

I woke up Friday morning at 5am to use the toilet and get some water and still couldn't walk straight. I went back to sleep and woke up with enough time to get to the train in a zombie like state. But instead of biking my way to the meeting, an ALT tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to share a cab so I did. (which means I was gonna have to walk back to the station (20~30 min walk...what was I thinking?)

This day of the conference was for ALTs and CIRs only. The JTE/JTLs were not invited to come. This day was known in history as the Infamous Yearly Bitchfest. It is a day when all the JETs can come together and talk about their problems with their schools, Japanese culture, and general culture shock.

Luckily this year, the PAs decided to make it a little more constructive and told us that if we had something to bitch about, we also needed to come up with a number of solutions. In the end, it was very constructive and I was quite pleased with it. They did a really good job. They also convinced me to try out for the Kochi JET annual production called Genki. More on that later as it happens.

When the conference was over, I was a little torn. I wanted to hang out with all those cool ALTs but everyone (including myself) just wanted to go home and sleep. I decided on the latter and made my way to the station.

Actually, I saw Adam earlier in the morning and he looked alright but a little glassy eyed. He said he stayed out drinking until 3am until he crashed at a friends house. After lunch I didn't see him so I called him. Turns out, he spent the whole 45 minute lunch break in the McDonald's bathroom and decided to take a cab home.

Which meant I got to ride his bike around and didn't have to walk home!!

Somewhere along the way though, I never made it home early like I had originally planned. Instead, I hung with Monique until she went on a date with some guy she wasn't even interested in. This was about 8:30 but my train didn't leave till 9:30 (cuz they suck) so I figured I was just going to have to wait at the station until then. Joy.

On my way, I ended up finding a huge group of ALT boys (about 6) and decided that I could use the male attention for once so I tagged along with them to the food court in the shopping area of Kochi city.

Unfortunately, I was not the center of attention. That was quite strange for me. I was the only girl in a group of 6 guys. I'm not hideous. They should have all been flirting with me. Instead, they got drunk and started bitching about their jobs.

I gladly left at 10 to catch my train home.

Day 3 of Mid-Year Conference and the Three Day hang over: End

2 shared their love:

Anonymous said...

Ok. Time to embarrass you: You're such a good writer that I felt like I was there with you for the whole three days! Thanks! It was a fascinating trip. --MH

Dan said...

Greetings from Rota, Espana where the beer is colder than the weather and the pizza comes with prosciutto.

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