I've been absent from this blog for a little while. In fact, I've been a bit physically run down since the mid-semester break has started, which according to my partner is a pretty natural reaction to the 8 week lecturing without much break in between, while at the same time writing a book...this 2 week break will hopefully give me enough time to rejuvenate! In the meantime, this book 'WASHOKU' by Elizabeth Andoh that I bought the other day at a local Japanese gallery/shop helps me to put my mind somewhere beautiful.
The professional communication skills course that I had been taking for the last 12 weeks finished last Tuesday. I enjoyed it very much and got a lot out of it.
The course was valuable in many levels; it has provided great opportunities for me to learn and practice fundamental communication skills, which help me to not only survive, but also thrive in day-to-day personal and professional life.
The course trainer and team mentors' sincere support throughout the course was also very encouraging. It allowed me to develop my potential talents into new strengths, as well as identify and work with my weaknesses. In the professional yet relaxing environment, everyone seemed to willingly try something that they have never done before, and the results are incredible.
Working in a team also enabled me to feel to be an integral part of the course. Weekly reports were great ways to share each other's stories about how we implemented what we learned in the course outside, and reflect upon this from other people's points of view. In fact, it worked as a good warming up exercise, since it let me to comfortably challenge to change before actually standing up and talking in front of other people.
Finally, my greatest debt of gratitude must go to my husband who took this course 20 years ago and supported me to appreciate the value of its outcomes...thank you!
Today I had a fantastic day teaching my Contemporary Japan students. The discussion went particularly well this week; it was energetic, interactive and fairly critical.
The key point of the session was to question the definition of the term 'freeter' to see how a particular social classification in general can change from one context to another (e.g. Japan vs Australia).
While navigating through the key themes, I threw in few questions to let them to consider the term's fluidity and arbitrariness; Could 'freeters' exist in Australia? How would social stigma attached to the term/classification be re-configured in a different cultural/historical/national context?
With their willingness to participate in the discussion, I was able to give every single student a chance to talk about their thoughts and stories about the topic during the class. The open-discussion that I facilitated enabled them to share different points of view about issues, such as working conditions, life styles and definitions of happiness, while also letting them to evaluate other people's opinions about those issues.
The greatest moment was when the time was up but then there were still some students who were raising their hands to say something that has yet to be said. The conversation continued and different points of view were added. That was indeed a rewarding moment that I embraced and want to remember as an educator.
It's always nice to come home and just chill out with my son and partner.
I've had quite a productive week this week - finished off the first draft of my forthcoming English learning book, managed to get this semester to take off smoothly, and started getting a grant proposal for my new research project ready.
From this week, I've started teaching a new course at uni, which I'm very excited about, and so far my students seem very positive and to enjoy discussing and sharing their thoughts on the subject: 'contemporary Japan'.
During the course, I try to incorporate some of the techniques that I've learned in the professional communication course that I'm taking every Tuesday night into my teaching as much as I can to see how it helps students' learning process. I've already witnessed how apparently small things like remembering names, listening to students actively and responding to them with positive comments, can change the whole vibe.
Running the course is a big thing and can be nerve-wracking, but so many things to be learned and so many good things to be brought about.
I've been feeling under the weather for the past few days. Quite a horrible chest cold and sore throat. I still feel weak and cough occasionally, but with the help of family's love and good winter food, I'm starting to feel like myself again!
Since my partner has been at home for his semester holidays, we've spent a really nice time just hanging out at home and watching old movies (some of them are very old - 1904! Some of them are the first films ever by Georges Méliès) snuggled up in a blanket together with hot lemon tea (great for your sore throat).
My partner was driving past a local flower shop and saw a red balloon there, which reminded him of a film he used to watch on rainy afternoons at school - 'Le Ballon Rouge' ('The Red Balloon'), directed by Albert Lamorisse in 1956. So he brought home the movie for us, which was nice of him! Our four year old son and I absolutely loved it.
The film is about a young school boy who one day finds a shockingly beautiful red big balloon hanging on a street light. The balloon begins to follow him anywhere he goes and eventually he makes friends with the balloon. An interesting relationship ensues...
It is such a beautiful, refreshing yet elegiac film that has an incredible power to imprint the story in people's minds.