Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Monotony of Award Ceremonies

This morning we had an award ceremony held in the 体育館 たいいくかん (gymnasium) that began at 8:35a.m. The whole school crams into the gym and the students sit on the floor with their gym shoes on. They have to carry their slippers that they wear in the school, and change back to them after they leave the gymnasium.

Today’s award ceremony was for last week’s sport tournament. Last Friday and Saturday students participated in 中体連 (ちゅうたいれん) chuutairen, a sports tournament. Only the 一年生 いちねんせい(first graders) and 二年生 にねんせい  (second graders) students were able to participate this time as the 三年生 さんねんせい(third graders) students are retired due to having to study for high school entrance examinations.

These ceremonies are utterly boring. The 校長先生 こうちょうせんせい(principal) gets up and gives a speech about some life philosophy, rule, or anecdote and then the students bow and he leaves the stage and then another teacher stands up and starts calling out names of students. When the student doesn’t respond loud enough the teacher scolds them and makes them do it again. Sometimes you’ll get one timid kid who just doesn’t have the oomph to speak up loudly. So the teacher will continue to scold them until they can get a passing “はい” or “yes”. Today was no exception as there were about a half dozen of these timid types and it dragged on the process for about an additional 5 to 10 more minutes longer than it should have been.

After the calling out of all students who were members of a specific team that did well, then the 校長先生 こうちょうせんせい(principal) comes back to the stage, and starts passing out certificates to exceptionally good students. This time I think it was the lady’s softball team that received a top prize in the tournament, ranking either second or third overall in our district, which was a first for the school.

After that the student council representative asks any teachers if they have any other information, and of course one or two teachers always pop up with an announcement or two. And finally the final “起立 (きりつ)and (れい)” are called out which means stand at attention and bow, and then students and teachers exit the gymnasium to start the day.

I generally just spaz out at this time. I have tried every conceivable way to pass this 20-30 minutes every time we have one. I have counted ceiling tiles, floor tiles, the gymnasium light fixtures, children with colored or dyed hair, the number of shoes in the 玄関 (げんかん),which means the entrance, the number of teachers sleeping during this meeting, and so many other things that I have pretty much exhausted any countable items. I have tried doing mental math exercises, physical stretching, seeing how long I can stand balanced on one leg (about 5 minutes or so) and many other strange things that I’d rather not write about on here.

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