There was a school assembly at Ohzeki Elementary this morning.
The guest of honor? Yours truly. But you would have thought I was someone, well, important the way the kids screamed and clapped when I walked in. It was my elementary ego boost, and I relished every minute.
They asked me for my autograph.
They wanted to touch my hair.
They fought over who got to hold my hand.
Yes, I get paid to do this. As part of my role as "internationalizer" here in Fukui, I visit eight elementary schools in addition to my day-to-day role as a junior high English teacher. It's sort of a Clark Kent-meets-Superman existence. The kids at the junior high like me in their own 'tween kind of way. But I'm Superman at the elementary schools. The students oooh-ed and aaah-ed over my pictures of Chicago, cheered when I told them I liked sushi, and flat out screamed when I gave them American flag stickers. Awesome.
But what these students don't realize is that I'm more like them than they think. When I wasn't busy signing autographs, I made a few observations: I speak almost the same level of Japanese as the first graders. We write hiragana and katakana with the same messy, shaky strokes. We hold our chopsticks in the same clumsy way. We agree that kanji are hard to learn.
I fit in perfectly. I think I've found my niche.