Santa Barbara Summer

This summer has been a whirlwind. After closing my life out in Japan – a long process which involved deep-cleaning my apartment, closing out my bank account and transferring money home, cancelling my local phone number, selling my car, bike and electric piano, saying goodbye to all my friends, students, and co-workers – I finally…

A Gratifying Ending: My last week of teaching, and feeling proud

My Last Week of Teaching July 17-32 Two years went by in the blink of an eye! This week I taught the final classes to my Japanese junior high school students. I’d been thinking and thinking, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the question: What should I do for my last lessons with my lovely students…

Kyoto for a day

A few weeks ago, I was surprised by a message on my phone from a mysterious sender. It read, “Do you want to go to Kyoto with me?” It took me a few minutes to figure out who it was from, but once I did, I immediately replied, “Yes!” Kaoru is a young Japanese teacher at my school…

Christmas in Japan

If you start humming ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ most Japanese junior high school student’s eyes will light up, because they know the Japanese version: “Makka na ohana no tonakaisan wa itsu mo minna no waraimono. ” (The English translation of their first line: “The reindeer with the bright red nose, always a laughing-stock to everyone.”)…