Nation marks second year since calamity | The Japan Times

Nation marks second year since calamity | The Japan Times.

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My Japanese Speech

On February 17th, I participated in the Kashima Friendship Association Japanese Speech Contest. Before the competition I practiced everyday for two hours for two straight weeks with the help of my friends Yoko-san and Osaki-san. It was tough, but I did it! Since some people couldn’t come and wanted to read it, I decided to post the speech for all to see.

The Japanese version:

いちねんの へんか

わたしが きょねん にほんに きたとき、にほんは 3月 11日の

じしんから ふっこうしている さいちゅうでした。

わたしのまち いたこは まだ すいどうやどうろが ふっきゅう していませんでした。

わたしが すんでいる ちいきの ひので では、すうかしょで じめんが かんぼつしていました。

まいにち ふっきゅうさぎょうをする こうじのおとが きこえていました。

 

そのような ひがいにも かかわらず、わたしは じしんが こわいとおもう いじょうに、 わたしは じぶんが ALT として よいせんせいに なれないのではないかということを おそれていました。

 

にせんじゅういちねん の くがつに わたしは はじめて じゅぎょうを しました。

いっしょに じゅうぎょうを たんとうする せんせいがたは まえに おあいしたことがありました。 でも れっすんぷらんの つくりかたも にほんじんのせんせいとのじゅぎょうのしかたも にほんごじたいも あまりわかりませんでした。

こんなしっぱいを するんじゃないか、あんなしっぱいを するんじゃないかと

いろいろなしっぱいを そうぞう してしまいました。

 

つきひは ながれ、 わたしの あぱーとの まわりの どうろも ゆっくりでは

ありますが たいらに そして まっすぐに なりました。 そのようすを しゃしんに おさめていきました。 つぎつぎと わたしの あぱーとのまわりの たてものは ふっきゅうされて いきました。 そんかいした いえは とても はやく しんちく されていきました。 わたしは このめで じぶんのすむ にほんのまちが さいがいを のりこえて いぜんより より ちからづよいまちに なっているのを みてきました。

いつも つねに よりよい しゃかいのために へんかを おこしている にほんじんを わたしは、そんけいしています。

 

わたしじしんも ゆっくりですが へんかしてきました。 どのようにすれば よいれっすんになるのか わかってきました。 にほんじんのせんせいと いっしょにおしえることは たいへんなことですが、 せいとに まなんでほしい というきもちは いっしょです。いっしょに はたらくことで おたがいにどうしてほしいかを はなしあって

いくなかで、よい じゅぎょうが できるように なりました。

わたしは かしましで にほんごを まなんでいます。たくさんのことを まなびました。

でも まだ たくさん まなぶことがあります。 たくさん まちがえました。 ときどき、とてもおおきな まちがいをすることもあります。

でも そのなかで わたしは せいこうするためには しっぱいをすることを まなびました。 そのけいけんから せいとにいつも いっています。

「まちがっても いいんだよ。」と。

 

てれびで みやぎの ひとたちが せいかつのたてなおしを しているところを みました。

ゆくえふめいしゃを ひっしでそうさく していました。

にゅーすを みるたびに ししょうしゃすうが ふえていきました。

そのたびに なみだが あふれてきました。

ししゃが はっけんされることもありましたし、せいかんしたひとも いました。

しかし、どんなときでも みんなきぼうを すてませんでした。

けっして あきらめない すがたが とても かんどうてきでした。

 

そして わたしじしんも よいせんせいになることを あきらめてはいけないと おもいました。

わたしは せいとたちの さくぶんの てんさくをしていました。 せいとは2011

年に おきた できごとに ついて かくことに なっていました。 もちろん ひがしにほん だいしんさいも とぴっくに なっていました。

せいとは おなじようなことを なんかいも くりかえして かいていました。

 

せいとのさくぶんには

 

ひがしにほんだいしんさいは 3月 11日でした。 そのひのことをよくおぼえています。 じしんがあったとき わたしはがっこうにいました。

とても こわかったです。おおぜいのひとが なくなりました。あのじしんの ことは

けして わすれません。

 

そのことについて かかれた さくぶんを よむたびに こころが はりさけそうに

なりました。 ふくしまのちかくに かぞくがいる せいとも いて、ほうしゃのう

れべるが たかくなっている ということをしんぱい しているせいとが ふくすう いました。

 

3月11日 のすうじをみるたびに 9月11日のことが あたまをよぎって しまいます。

Twin Towersが こうげきされたとき じぶんが いたところも はっきり おぼえています。 がっこうの ろうかが ぱにっくに なったひとたちで いっぱいだったことを おぼえています。せんせいたちは はやくちで はなしていました。 りかしつにむかうと てれびがついていました。 こうそうびるから なにか けむりのようなものがみえましたが なにがおこっているか わかりませんでした。 それは さいしょの たわーが ひこうきで ついげきされたときでした。

9月11日のできごとのあと、せんせいたちは がっこうが もとどおりに なるように いっしょうけんめい ちからをそそいでいたことを おぼえています。

ときどき、そのじけんのことを はなしていましたが、ふだんは さきにすすもうとしていました。

にほんでも せんせいや せいとが じしんをのりこえて ぜんしんしようと しているところを みてきました。

大きな じしんがおこると いまだに せいとは こわがっています。

あるせいとは、2011年の11月に じしんがおきたときに こわがって、わたしのてを ぎゅっとにぎっていました。わたしは 「だいじょうぶですよ。だいじょうぶ。」とてをにぎったまま いいました。 いぜんのじょうたいに もどれるように びりょくながら てつだいたいのです。

せいとたちは、ほんとうに つよく ぜんしんしようと しています。 まいにち わたしはえいごをおしえていますが、すこしずつ じぶんじしんも つよくなっているのをかんじます。

じぶんがしていることがわかりますし、どうすればじょうずにおしえることができるかもわかります。どうしたらいいか わからなくなることも ありません。

こどもたちは、じしんが おきるまえのように むじゃきに

まださきの はるやすみのことについて はなしています。そして すぐやってくる バレンタインズ ディのこともきになるようで、 わたしに、だれかに ちょこれーとを あげるかどうかもきかれました。

まちもいぜんのすがたに もどりつつあります。

たてものや どうろが しゅうふくされ、あたらしいとし とともに あたらしいへんかが あるといいなあと おもいます。 にほんにとっても、わたしにとっても よりよいへんかがあると うれしいです。 3月11日の きおくを ぬぐいさることは できませんが ここにいて にほんの おてつだいをすることはできます。

すべてを もとどおりにすることは できませんし、ふかのうです。でも いっしょにいて、せいとをあんしんさせることはできます。

じしんは また おきるかもしれませんが、わたしはどこにもいきません。 ここにいて にほんの これから いちねんの おおきな へんかに きたいしているのです。

 

The English Version

One Year of Change

When I came to Japan last year, I found Japan recovering from the March 11th earthquake. My city, Itako, still had places without running water and many roads were still really damaged. The ground in my subdivision, Hinode, dropped by a few meters in some places. Every day I heard construction workers trying to rebuild the city.

Despite all the damage I saw, I wasn’t scared of earthquakes. I was afraid that I would be a bad teacher. In September of 2011, I taught a class for the first time. I had seen other teachers teach before, but this was my first experience being in front of the classroom. I didn’t know how to make lesson plans, how to work with a Japanese English Teacher, and I didn’t know that much Japanese. I kept thinking about all the ways I could make a mistake. I kept imagining that I would fail in this way or that way.

As time went by, the roads slowly became smooth and straight again around my apartment. I took pictures of the damage being repaired. Constantly, the buildings around me changed. Houses would go down, and the quickly replaced in a few weeks with a new house. I watched my city build up from the disaster to become stronger than before. I admired the Japanese people. Always there were changes.

I changed slowly, too. I learned how to teach. I figured out how to make good lessons. I discovered that working with Japanese English Teacher can be challenging, but we all want the students to learn English. By working together and communicating what we want from each other, my co-workers and I have done some very good work at our schools. I studied Japanese and went to Japanese classes in a nearby city called Kashima. I learned so much, but I know I have much to learn still. I will admit that I made mistakes. Sometimes, I even felt like a big failure, but I learned from my mistakes. I learned that sometimes you have to fail to succeed. I tell my students all the time, “It’s OK to make a mistake.”

I watched on the news as the people around Miyagi rebuilt their lives. They fought so hard to find missing people. The death toll from the tragedy rose with each news story. I watched the numbers rise with tears in my eyes. Still, there was hope. Sometimes, people were found. Sometimes, families didn’t get swept away into the sea. Sometimes it was just a simple misunderstanding. Always, people kept hoping. They never gave up. It was inspiring to me.

I couldn’t give up, either.  One day, right after the New Year of 2012, I was grading essays, and the students were given different things to discuss over the year 2011. Of course, the Great East Japan Earthquake was a topic. Some students wrote about it. They said pretty much the same thing over and over again.

“The East Japan earthquake was on March 11th. I remember that day. I was in school when the earthquake happened. I was very fearful. Many people passed away and died. I will not forget that earthquake.”

My heart broke each time a student wrote about it. Some of them had family up near Fukushima and worried about them being so close to the radioactivity. More than one student mentioned the radiation levels getting high, and also about the earthquake damage in Itako.

Every time I saw the numbers 3/11, I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to 9/11. I remember that day very well. I could point out exactly where I was when the Twin Towers were attacked. I can remember how the hallways in middle school were full of people panicking. Teachers were talking to each other in hurried voices, trying to decide what to do I guess. I remember turning to the science room and the TV was on. I saw something smoking and a tall building. At the time I had no idea, but it was the first tower struck by the airplane.

I remembered how after 9/11 my teachers did their best to keep things normal. We talked about what happened from time to time, but usually we just tried to move on. I can see my students and teachers are trying to move on in Japan, too. I can still see the fear students have when a bigger earthquake happens. One student held my hand tightly when an earthquake hit in November of 2011. I squeezed her hand and said, “Daijoubu desu. It’s alright.” I want to keep doing that. I want to help make everything alright again.

My students are definitely strong and moving forward. Every day I teach them, I feel a little stronger, too. I know what I’m doing, and I know how to do it well. I don’t feel lost anymore. I’ve built strength inside thanks to Japan. I am confident in my teaching abilities now. My students already talk about spring vacation even though that’s quite a ways away. Valentine’s Day is also just around the corner. A few of my students have asked me if I’m giving away chocolates to a boy.

As the buildings come back, as the roads get fixed, I hope this next year brings new changes. I want change for the better, both for Japan and myself. I know I can’t take the memory of 3/11 away, but I can be here to support Japan. I can’t get it back to the way it was. That’s impossible. Still, I can try to make them feel secure again. The ground can shake all it wants. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here for yet one more year of change.

 

A New Year Reflection: 3/11 and 9/11

It’s a test week, so I’ve been grading papers more than going to class.My students make the normal mistakes for kids their age, and I’ve got to admit I made the same kind of mistakes every so often back in the day.  When one of my Japanese English Teachers came over and gave me a stack of winter break assignments, I just assumed they’d be like all the rest. He told me, “Look for mistakes and correct. If they are right, circle. You know, yes?”

I smiled and nodded my head, “Hai. I know.” I took the papers from his hands. When I plopped them on the desk, they made a nice thunk! I got out my red pen and got comfortable on my rolling chair. As we would say back home, “This is gonna take awhile.”

I opened the stack and started reading. I paused when I realized these weren’t the normal variety of papers. They were essays, and the students were given different things to discuss over the year 2011. Of course, the Great East Japan Earthquake was a topic. Some students wrote about it. They said pretty much the same thing over and over again.

“The East Japan earthquake was on March 11th. I remember that day. I was in school when the earthquake happened. I was very fearful. Many people passed away and died. I will not forget that earthquake.”

I felt my heart break each time a student wrote about it. Some of them had family up near Fukushima and worried about them being so close to the radioactivity. More than one student mentioned the radiation levels getting high, and also about the earthquake damage in Itako. I wanted to find each and every one of them and hug them. Instead, I slash out grammar and spelling mistakes with a red pen. Beside an essay, I put a “Good job! :)” and possibly a comment.

Every time I saw the numbers 3/11, I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to 9/11. I remember that day very well. I could point out exactly where I was when the Twin Towers were attacked. I can remember how the hallways in middle school were full of people panicking. Teachers were talking to each other in hurried voices, trying to decide what to do I guess. I remember a friend running up to tell me, “Something really, really bad just happened. I don’t know what, but parents are coming to pick up their kids.” I remember turning to the science room and the TV was on. I saw something smoking and a tall building. At the time I had no idea, but it was the first tower struck by the airplane.

That memory remains like a deep scar. For the next week, kids at my school talked at the lunch table. Some were even talking about going away on vacation for a bit. We lived next to a uranium enrichment plant, and it was on the hit list of possible targets for terrorism. I remember wondering how long it would take to go up. The answer? I probably wouldn’t even had time to scream. I still have nightmares about that plant blowing up one day.

I remember where I was on 3/11, too. I woke up that night for some reason. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got on YouTube to watch some movies and relax. I saw the earthquake news an hour after it had happened. I was in denial about it, hoping against hope that the earthquake just did some damage and that was all. I found out at lunch about the tsunami. I cried when I saw the death toll numbers rising every ten minutes. I got on Facebook to message my friends and emailed my host families in Japan. When I left to go on Spring Break, I kept up with the news and watched the nuclear plant problems. When I got the news that everyone I knew was fine, I felt relieved, but the nuclear plant issues put a knot in my stomach. Thankfully, some very brave people saved Japan from yet another disaster.

The radiation remains an ongoing problem, but the recovery efforts will continue as well. Still, many people here won’t btuy foods or products if they have the Fukushima kanji on them. There’s a huge nuclear power distrust among my students. They say, “Abunai desu!” It’s dangerous. I don’t know what to tell them. I do understand how it feels to suddenly realize the danger of the world, that it can change so violently, and the paranoia that it could happen again. I wish I could find the right words to say, but I can’t.

At that moment when I sit at my desk I feel like I should do something. I don’t know what, but something. I feel like a failure, like I haven’t done enough to make thing better.

But then I remember how after 9/11 my teachers did their best to keep things normal. We talked about what happened from time to time, but usually we just tried to move on. I can see my students and teachers are trying to move on, too. I can still see the fear students have when a bigger earthquake happens. One student held my hand tightly when a earthquake hit a few months or so ago. I squeezed her hand and said, “Daijoubu desu.” It’s alright. I want to keep doing that. I want to help make everything alright again.

My students are definitely strong and moving forward. They didn’t just reflect on the earthquake. They also talked about the Tokyo Motor Show, the Japan Women’s Soccer Team winning the World Cup, and Arashi winning its various awards (MatsuJun, I love you!). Because of the Japan Women’s Soccer Team, many of my students felt inspired and so proud. They all talked about how the win brought them such joy. Thanks to them, I’ve got quite a few girls talking about being soccer stars when they grow up. I gave them smiley faces on their papers and told them to keep their dreams.

They’re already talking about spring vacation even though that’s quite a ways away. Valentines Day is also just around the corner. A few of my students have asked me if I’m giving away chocolates to a boy. Maybe someday, but not this time.

I hope this next year brings a whole lot of good things. I’m no hero and I know I can’t take the memory of 3/11 away, but I can be here to support my kids. I can’t get it back to the way it was. That’s impossible. Still, I can try to make them feel secure again. The ground can shake all it wants.

I’m not going anywhere.