July 18, 2008.
Today was my second to last day working as an ALT, and my last day teaching. The day started with a speech at the elementary school, and ended with one last lunch with the office staff at Kamioka Elementary. In between were three classes, the last of which involved nine year olds arguing and crying about a game of bingo. And then more crying about having to apologize for crying about arguing about bingo. You might imagine I've become immune to such impassioned displays... and you'd be right. Its kind of endearing, in a "Why the hell are you arguing about bingo?" kind of way.
The same class also featured the teacher getting angry and yelling at one of the kids for shouting out that the class was boring. Well, fuck, I hope she wasn't getting angry for my sake. We were playing bingo with freaking vegetables, the kid was right.
It was definitely of a day of mixed emotions. I don't really appreciate the classes I participate and teach in, but the young kids are really fun to work with (when not crying about bingo, lets just excuse all of that as their being upset about me leaving. Or maybe it was just too hot, I don't know, they don't usually get that worked up). The elementary kids are great because their attitude towards you is completely paradoxical, and they are too young to care. They treat you like a giant stuffed animal to climb on, but also treat you like an old friend.
I'll miss the kids. In fleeting moments, and undoubtedly in occasional nights spent reminiscing and wondering what life might have been like if I had stayed in Japan for a second year instead of chasing Will-o-Wisps back to an America whose economy appears to be tanking faster than you can shout "the Titantic is unsinkable." That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to chase those ill-defined or undefined dreams while we're young and free of dependents.
I have received a non-trivial quantity of origami and other random gifts. Some of the drawings (of, for example, rabbits) are really impressive, and the origami reveals an attention to sharply pressed folds that I suspect I'll never fully master. Its impossible not to miss these kids, although I realize I'll be soon forgotten except for a few particular kids. And I realize those kids will eventually forget too, as is the way with these things. Even I can't promise their faces won't fade into one another and gently drift down one of time's many rivers.
But, they were good kids, and I'll miss them.