Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Surprises Continued...

On Valentine's Day morning, I opened my closet to grab a pair of socks and found a present from my cute hubby instead. The present turned out to be, ironically, some new warm socks, chocolate, and gift certificates to go skiing, to an onsen (Japanese hot springs), and out for dinner. He also surprised me with these beautiful flowers. Can you say spoiled?

We were both lucky enough to have shortened work schedules on Tuesday, so we were able to spend most of Valentine's Day together. I used my gift certificate for a romantic dinner and we ate sauce katsudon, one of our favorite Japanese dishes. James was obviously very thrilled about his dinner (see face below).

During work that day, I made my first visit to a special education school in our city. I only taught four students, but it was definitely one of the best days of teaching yet. The students were so eager to learn and to practice their English.

I stayed and ate lunch with the whole class (below). The lunch period in Japan (especially at this school) is different from most schools in America. Before lunch, every student washed their hands and put on an apron, a bandana, and a face mask. Then a few students grabbed the food and utensils from the cafeteria and brought them back to the classroom where other students prepared the trays and arranged the desks into a big table. Everyone sat down to eat, but no one touched their food until everyone had been served, seated, and said, "Itadakimasu!" (a phrase they use before eating; literally, "I will partake."). To me, the lunch period was a microcosm of Japanese society as a whole - harmonious unity and hard work without complaint.

Last night, Kana, one of my students, and her mom came to our house for dinner. Kana has been the most diligent member of our high school English club and she and I have gotten to know each other well over the last six months. We introduced them to tacos with homemade tortillas. Even though eating the tacos was a bit tricky for them, they seemed to enjoy the food. Kana's mom is a dental hygienist, so we had some funny conversations after dinner as she quizzed us about our brushing and flossing habits and inspected our teeth. She then presented us with a gift - two new toothbrushes!

We hope you all had a fun Valentine's Day. Love to all of our family and friends!!!

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