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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cool Gadget

I wanted to share this cool gadget that I received as a gift. It’s a staple-less stapler. It works very well. The attached point is stronger than a staple. I think the inventor is proud of his/ her work because there is a window to view the mechanism in action. Pretty cool, huh?   George

Sunday, March 17, 2013


The ALT’s who work for the BOE in Yufu City are on a yearly contract. The contracts expire at the end of this March. What’s so unusual about this little bit of news is that none of the ALT’s are sure if they will be rehired. Each year our contracts are reviewed and we have to go through the interview process. This is emotionally stressful especially when a student asks if I’m going to teach their English class next year. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and tell them that I don’t know. This has led to many unnecessary tearful goodbyes.

ALT’s aren’t the only ones that have to endure this guessing game. Teachers, nurses, and administrators are rotated every so many years. Principals and Vice Principals are shuffled around also. No one is exempt from this merry-go-round. This makes it really hard to form lasting friendships. I’m not sure what the logic is behind this. I do know that it’s heartbreaking to tell a sobbing first grader that you may not see them again. What’s even worse, one of my schools had an official going away ceremony for me. A couple of weeks later, I was back at their doorstep with my renewed contract. I hope I won’t have any going away ceremonies this year.   George

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Angels to Monsters

The sixth grade students in Shonai graduate next week. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I’ll miss them terribly, but I’m happy that they’ll be moving on to bigger and brighter things. Not having any kids of my own, I’m not accustomed to watching children grow up. I’m astounded at the changes I witnessed in the brief fifteen months that I taught. What I found most interesting was the stark contrast in attitudes the students had towards school (in general) after progressing from fifth to sixth. I think I could best describe the change as going from angels to monsters. In the smaller classes, ten students or less, the change was less profound. I think the HRT had a lot to do with it. When I asked the HRT what made the class different from the others, the reply was, “The students care about each other. They are happy to be with one another.” The HRT was also quick to point out that the students made the difference, not the teacher. I disagreed and I praised the HRT’s ability to cultivate, motivate, and stimulate the student’s interests. I’m sure the parents helped to transform the kids also. I don’t know if the size of the class had anything to do with how a child turned out. From my brief experience, it seemed to make a difference. My classes ranged in size from three to thirty. I know that’s considered small, but even in this range, the difference was noticeable. The kids in the smaller classes received one-on-one. I don’t know about the other subjects, but that made a big difference for the students trying to learn English.     George

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sagitta 900

Here’s a couple of pictures of my Sagitta that I built over 25 years ago. It’s ready to fly as soon as the weather cooperates. I originally built the plane for flying on the slope. The plane is designed for a hi start and that’s how I’ll be flying it. It’s nice to have a flying partner (Erika). She can look for the parachute and retrieve the line. Shhh…don’t tell her. She doesn’t know that she’ll be doing all of the hard work. More pictures, later.   George