Thursday, July 31, 2014

Manual Labor In Lieu of English Teaching in Japan

This summer I don't have a heap of things to do at school.  Most of my lessons are planned for, most things are printed out and ready to go, I have already decorated the English room and gotten my newsletter written for the remainder of the school year.  I'm not saying I don't have anything to do but lets just say in an 8-hour time span boredom can set in quickly like concrete shoes the mob use to sink someone to the bottom of a river, ocean or quarry.

So last year I was asked to help paint the 2nd and 3rd stories of my school.  Japanese schools typically have 1 or maybe 2 custodians who take care of the grounds and structure, whereas kids and teachers help keep the schools kind of, sort of, well, barely clean.  So any kind of big project like painting an entire floor of a school takes a lot of labor.  So the school that I work at has a volunteer program for anyone who wants to come and help to make the school look nice. 
So I volunteered last year and enjoyed myself a great deal.  I wound up ruining my pants, shirt and shoes last year from the painting experience. ( I didn't know we'd be painting so I wore work clothes which turned out to be a disaster and wound up destroying a brand new shirt and slacks.)   Learning from that epic failure I was again asked to paint but this time I came strapped with working clothes and again I had a great time.  We painted about a 400 feet of corridor from one end of the building to the other.  We started with the top section, using brushes and rollers and painted the top portion a chalky white. 

The next day we removed the masking tape that created a border with the bottom section, and masked again the top line.  Then we continued with the painting of the bottom portion of the wall in a cream colored paint.  By we, I mean the two custodians, 3 junior high kids and myself.  We worked for two days and really got the majority of the hallway finished so when the third grade junior high kids return from summer holidays it will look like a new school.

It was a lot of hard work but it was fun.  I enjoy painting though it takes a toll on the lower back and hamstrings.  I can say without a doubt that I prefer doing that as to sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs with not much to do.  And now every time I walk down that corridor I know that I helped contribute to making it look better. 

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