Like I said, there are only around 10 kids at the school that will regularly speak to me. Those ten as well could more aptly be divided into pairs and groups of three students, since students here seem unable to even visit the office or go to the bathroom alone. Not to say that students in the US - especially girls - don't travel in groups for protection, but I'd like to believe I was capable of completing basic tasks in my day without the support of an entourage. Students come up to me or other teachers almost always in groups, even if only one is going to speak to me. The office is filled with about 20 kids during the breaks between class, though maybe as few as 5 actually have reason to be in there. As the representative says his or her piece, his or her friends will mill around to the side, or simply stare at me, beaming.
I felt like writing about some of these kids because one might be left with the impression from previous posts that the students exist mostly to irritate me. On the contrary, usually the 10 kids with one comment easily outweigh any frustration I experience during the day dealing with their classmates. They are geniune, sweet, and often hilarious, even if unintentionally. Talking to kids here is usually the best part of my day, because I don't feel like they are putting up any sort of cynical or apathetic front. (As for example, many American students, like me, did in high school) So here are some student profiles, today just of some of the boys:
One of the strangest is this student who seems to make a point of asking how I am everyday. Just "How are you?". He has a keen sense as to when I am leaving for the day, and often abruptly materializes in front of me around 5 to say, "Hey, How are you!?" Sometimes he comes up from behind me, racing down the hallway after me until he reaches the proper position from which to yelp "How are you?!" The best is when I have my headphones on and I can't see him until he leaps in front of me, halfway bent over out of breath, and I realize he has just come from sprinting across the entire school just to get my attention so he can ask his one question. I've tried to engage him in some extended conversation but he just smiled and nodded his head continuously until I finally just edged around him and went home. I guess he just believes it is his solemn duty simply to find out every day if I'm doing alright. That done, he's fulfilled some self-assigned bond.
Another awesome student is this spry kid with that goofy hair that only Japanese boys have, the kind that inexplicably can stand up in all directions. This kid somehow reminds me of a duck. He has two buddies that are always shadowing him from his homeroom class. He often catches me passing him on the stairway between class and stops me to chat very briefly. Briefly as he usually has only some prepared statement for me that he reveals without warning. He reveals a certain enthusiasm in his conversations with me that I'm not sure he is even aware of, perhaps because he doesn't always seem to understand the denotation or the connotation of the words he uses.
Duck Boy: Hi Adams Sensei, how are you?
Luke: I'm a little tired.
Duck Boy: Oh! (very concerned) I am very sad! [He means "that is very sad"]
Luke: (Solemnly) Yes, yes you are. Anyways, what's up?
Duck Boy: Yes, well...(Nodding his head and looking at me appraisingly)...You are very handsome, I believe.
Luke: (Laughing) Well, thank you.
Duck Boy: I am very surprising! [He means, "I am surprised"]
Luke: Yes, you certainly are.
Duck Boy: Okay... (Nods one last time and continues on to class)
And I have learned to just laugh and shake my head after this sort of interchange, because it's just too hard to figure out what exactly he is getting out of our dialogue, but he at least seems to be happy with it.
Last week I began to get visits from a new group of three third year boys. They were the ones that accosted me in the library some time back, during the summer. Last week, they suddenly approached me at lunch and asked if I was free to talk. I was, and they sat down. I was rather bemused as they took seats at the desks of the surrounding teachers and began to pepper me with a series of entirely random albeit pre-prepared questions:
"What sports do you play?"
"What do you think of Bush?"
"How much do you weigh?"
"Do you listen to Eminem?"
I answer these and a few more, they seem satisfied, and finished with their inquiry, rise from their seats. I turn back to my work at my desk. One of them says, "See you tomorrow then Mr. Adams"
And it turns out he really meant it, because they came the next day. And the next. And the next. On Friday they waited almost a half an hour at my desk for me to return from the store where I was buying my lunch, just to ask:
"Do you have any brothers?"
"Do Americans think all Japanese are samurai?"
"Do you know that Washizu Sensei is a famous soccer player?"
"How tall are you?"
Then, "See you tomorrow Mr. Adams." And it seems that I will.