Just taught my first class in a month--introducing myself to the entering high school class. The contrast between sitting around for weeks with literally no work to do and teaching really makes it clear to me how much I enjoy teaching. Or maybe it's just that I enjoy working and contributing in any way. Sure, work is tough, but not working might be tougher, at least from a psychological point of view. At least for me, having some meaningful task is crucial for my happiness.
Sitting around having nothing to do only to get paid is not as enviable as it may seem. Yes, I know, I'm very lucky to have an income when many people don't. I'm just saying it's demoralizing to get up every morning, commute, and sit at a desk for no other purpose than to satisfy an arbitrary time requirement--not to mention that it's a complete waste of taxpayers' money. And no, it's not because I'm ignoring some potential work that I could be doing. I used to try to come up with other projects, but those were met, if not with complete resistance from teachers, then at least with crippling indifference that ensured the projects' ultimate failure. After almost two years here, I've learned that if the teachers don't need me in class, I'm of no use and my very existence at the school is a burden to them. That's not a happy place to be. Anyway, the lesson is that people need some sense of purpose as well as some sense of belonging--something that's hard to come by here in Japan if you're not Japanese.
Overall, the past few months have been hard, maybe that's why I haven't written anything here. It was very cool to see India in February, but the subsequent week of severe diarrhea and two months of nausea and weakness have unavoidably and unfortunately tainted that experience. I'm finally able to smell Indian food and think back on the trip without triggering severe nausea. I lost almost 15 lbs (which I wouldn't think would even be possible given how thin I already was) and was extremely weakened which is probably why I ended up getting bronchitis for a month. Now, my appetite is back, and I'm eating a lot. My strength is returning as well, and I've started doing Aikido, running, and swimming again. Feels good.
Looking forward, I've been given an awesome opportunity to grow professionally and take on more responsibility as one of the ALT advisors for my area. My counterpart is a very accomplished and friendly guy, so I'm very excited. It also means switching schools, and as much as I will miss the students here, the change will be good. I'll be working at a technical school which is mostly boys. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to the all girls school I taught part-time at last year. The fact that it is a technical school should also be advantageous because in Japan there is this tragic misconception that ALTs detract from academic students' primary focus of passing the university entrance exams, and thus, they have fewer opportunities to teach in those schools than in non-academic ones.
So, that's life, right? Some good, some bad. Always in flux.