Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chicago Interview on Kenya

My friend from back home found this interview of me on the internet:
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=5867943

The Chicago ABC News team interviewed me back in January of this year when all of the riots were taking place back in Kenya. They found out I had returned from Kenya a week prior, so they asked if they could come over to ask me some questions.

I thought it would just be an article in the newspaper - so we were shocked when the TV crew came a knockin!!!

The night before my brother and I threw a big party at our house - so when I got the call that next morning, we had to rush to wake everyone up so they could help us clean up the place... but maybe that explains why I seem a bit out of it in the interview! hahaha...

A week or two after the interview - Peace Corps Kenya was completely shut down due to the riots and all of the volunteers were sent back home to America... The program was shut down for a good 6 months before they slowly started bringing back volunteers. Luckily now things are more stable and Peace Corps Kenya is trying to start back up where they left off!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Do I look Michael Jacksonesque????

So yeah.... if I haven't said it before - I'll say it again... I'm a blonde.

The sidewalks here in Sapporo are coated with ICEEE... thick slick slippery sheets of ice... I knew it would only be a matter of time before I had a wipeout.... So this morning on my walk to work I had my first full on - full body WIPEOUT... but funny enough I DID NOT slip on the thick sheets of ice. no. no.... I somehow managed to walk so that my right shoe's shoelace loop conveniently got hooked into my left shoe's hook and I went FLYING.... I managed to scrape up my palm pretty deep, my forearm, elbow and knee. fun fun....

When I got to school I was covered in blood and they were freaking out and rushed me to the school nurses. (whom by the way are AMAZING!!!! its like a clean mini hospital!!!!!) They cleaned me up and gave me this really awesome fish net Michael Jackson glove. They were so excited to help me and begged for me to come back!!!! (i think they liked my mini Michael Jackson moonwalk) hahah... hopefully I won't have to....

Another idiotic thing I did was on my binge shopping spree in COSTCO. I was so happy to see English on everything that I gobbled it all up. Well...... I bought what I thought was a huge thing of awesome American laundry detergent... Luckily I showed it to another JET while he was visiting and he was like: "ummm... callie... you do know thats a shitload of fabric softener, don't you???" WHOOOOPS...... if anyone lives in sapporo and wants some fabric softener - let me know!!! i dont even know how to use it. :-/

Oh yeah.... one more..... at my dinner last Monday with Shingo..... I managed somehow to get fishballs stuck in my hair without even knowing it.... I could understand if it was soba noodles cause you have to suck em up really fast... but the fish balls were in the nabe soup we had.... ummmm..... no idea how they ended up in my hair!!!

Off to my final class of breakdancing!!! What a great way to spend Thanksgiving!!! :) I hope they love my new hand fashion statement. But looks like I won't be able to do any of my signature floor moves tonight due to my injury. :(

HAPPY TURKEY DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marking papers...

Exams are on this week - which means no classes!!! But I'm keepin busy helping teachers mark student's composition papers.... For this assignment students had to write about a teacher in the school.... I pulled out some of the highlights for you to enjoy!!!!!!!

mr. asthma is always smirking and wear a wig. He has many wife. Hobby is hair massage.

He is tall. Tall man looks handsome. And he has short hair. His short hair makes us refreshing.

He is sweaty. He is very very very very big man. His charm point is his glasses of a black flame and a pretty vest.

He look gloomy and look like beaver but I like the mysterious atmosphere.

His characteristic is making many mistake. So, He may not be good at teaching something. He looks like capybara. He is cool, but in other words he makes no effort whatsoever to be agreeable. Oh, sorry. He have a good point too. It is that he keeps time. So We like him.

He is always smiling. That smile is very cheep.

But he is very very fat. I want him to reduse his weight. He gets sad when we says him that he is fat. Contarary to his body, his class is easy to understand.

his body is fun. Because his hip is big! And his finger is short! and his hair is thin! and his arm is very soft! when we touch them, we feel comfortable.

He has metabolic syndrome.

his character is rough and touchy. he usually wears red jersey. we felt passion from him.

his outlook is plump and muscularity!

He has a hot heart

Monday, November 24, 2008

My short reign as bowling queen!!!!

Ahhh.... How I love these abundant Japanese National Holidays!!!

I've stopped asking what the special occasion is and instead I'm just enjoying them!!!!!! My friend Shingo also had the day off so we decided to get together and have some fun!

We started the day off at noon. I cooked him a big fat American burger in exchange for helping me with my Japanese studying. (my exam is in 2 weeeeeeks!!!!) After we studied a bit he drove me to this crazy huge Vegas style arcade/gaming center/bowling extravaganza center!!! It was AMAZIN!!!!!

One of the floors was dedicated to those crazy coin push machines... Normally I hate 'em cause they suck your money away - but in Japan they've somehow unsurprisingly made them hypnotic, tantalizing and hilarious!!!! We got a bucket full of tokens, sat on one of the crazy love seat sofas and pushed our luck. Lights were blinging, balls were flying, coins were flying in our lap.... neon lights flashed, girls sang to us, a lady came by ringing a bell.... it was nuts. hahah...

We also had a go in the purikura photo booth.... Here are our results:









We also went bowling!!! A bit into our first game - as I was stepping up to bowl - suddenly the lights went out and crazy lights started spinning and glowing. The lanes were pitch black except for crazy red strobes down the sides...... Luckily Shingo was there to help me understand what the heck was goin on!!!! An announcer all decked out stepped on the lanes and made a high pitched announcement: It was a strike competition to crown the next bowling kind/queen!!!! hahahaha.... and guess who won?!?!?!? ME!!!!! hahahhaha... I have no idea how cause im rubbish at bowling... but I managed to get a strike on the first go... we went nuts and the old ladies next to me were practically kissing me!!! (which was quite startling cause normally Japanese are not affectionate in public - but I guess bowling brings out the looove!)




















hahaha
.... The staff came over to our lane and crowned me with a Hawaiin necklace and we had our picture taken. They also awarded me with this bowling picture clip stand. hahahah...

Since I was crowned queen I ordered Shingo to give me a curtsy in this pink kilted bowling pin!!! hahahaha...

We spent a good few hours at the place until we were starvin... then he took me to this cool tatami sit down Japanese restaurant and ordered a huge spread of soba, nabe, sushi, tempura, soups, and mooooooore.... OISHIIIIIII.... so delicious!!!!!!

I'm now ready to CRASH!!!!!!!

can't wait til the next holiday!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

HALLELUJAH JAPAN!!!!!!!!!

yup... you hear me right..... HALLELUJAH JAPAN!!!!!!!!!

Not exactly what I imagined I'd be listening to in Japan... but hey!

Mayu and her friends invited me to a Gospel concert last weekend. Their friend was performing in it so I decided to tag along. I'm always dying to get a dose of culture in me... plus it's been ages since I've been to any kind of concert!

They were actually really good.... but it was so strange for me to be the only foreigner in the huge theatre listening to a bunch of Japanese sing about Jesus and God and saying "Hallelujah" umpteen times!!! hahaha.... They even had a few numbers for Christmas and were decked out in Xmas gear! :) I asked Mayu and her friends if they were a Christian group - and she said no... They were mostly Buddhists but just loved singing gospel songs! By the end of the concert they had everyone standing and dancing and singing along..... They put up Japanese and English lyrics on a huge projector screen and switched up the languages so everyone was joining in!!! :)

We were all holding hands and rejoicing together!!!!! hahahah.... soooooo bizarre I tell ya. It reminded me a bit of the crazy visits I made to African churches - only there it was dirt floors, no shoes and the big Kenyan mamas were pickin you up and huggin the daylights out of you. hahaha...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

HOLEY SchNOWley!!!!!!!!!!

Every day I have been relying on my bicycle to get me to where I want to go... There was one snowfall a few weeks ago, but luckily it never stuck... so I've been able to ride my bike.

but theeeeen this morning I woke up and noticed it was a bit brighter than usual in my house. I took a peek outside and oh boy oh boy.... there was SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!! holy cow!!!!!!!! not just a few flakes but a HUGE BLANKET of SNOWWWW!!!! I guess when it rains it pours.

Sadly I had to say goodbye to my trusty bicycle. :( snifffff....

The subway and train were PACKED.... I took this photo after the busy Odori station stop (so this is only 1/2 of the remaining people)

The snowfall is actually making it feel a bit more like Christmas now!!! Sapporo Station and shops are already all decked out for Christmas. (and its hilarious cause they don't even celebrate xmas here) oooooh how I love Engrish signs.... "VERY XMAS!!!"

This is the walk to my school!!! It is absolutely gorgeous... It was cute watching the little kids after school go nuts with the first real snowfall of the year. They were jumping into the banks and having snowball fights... awwww....

On my walk home from Sapporo Station I was waiting at a traffic light - when there were a group of 3 really cute young guys in business suits lugging some suitcases behind them. They were shivering like MAD... hahah... I started laughing and said in Japanese something to the effect that I could tell they were obviously not from Hokkaido and that they better watch out... They started laughing and told me they came from Tokyo and couldn't believe how damn cold and snowy it was here in Sapporo!!! hahah.... we chatted for a bit and then they even offered to take me out to dinner!!!!! oooh man.... why can't Sapporo guys be this easy??!??!?! I had to get to my breakdancing class so sadly declined. :( We said our sayonaras as they shivered and slipped and slid across the road to find their hotel.

WINTER IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! whooo hooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love Hotels and Maid Cafes!!!

Before I came to Japan, I remember watching a clip on the internet about 'Maid Cafes'... once I saw it I knew I HAD TO GO and see it with my own 2 eyes!!!

I went out Sunday night with one of my Japanese girlfriends and a few of her guy friends. None of em spoke a lick of English - so they bought me a beer to loosen up my Japanese tongue! Oooooh boy did it work! :) (I guess all that studying is finally starting to pay off!) We had a fun time and I even taught them all how to play foozball!!! hahah... (they whooped my arse)

Afterwards - the guys had to head to a nijikai (2nd party) but Atsuko and I decided to wander Susukino and she gave me an undercover backstreets tour of the "Love" district!!! Wooooow... I have lived in Sapporo almost 4 months and never knew what jewels were lurking here!!!




Our first stop on the 'love tour' was the love hotel district!!! It was nuts!!! hotel after hotel after hotel after hotel!!! It kind of reminded me of a seedy little vegas but only cooler.

You can rent a Love Hotel room for a "rest period" or for overnight... Normally you do not have any human interaction when checking into the hotel - everything is either computerized or from a slot in the wall!!! Each of the individual rooms have their own crazy themes you can pick from!!! If you google it - you can take a look at some of the rooms! But I read somewhere that Love hotels in Japan have a 4 trillion yen annual turnover!!!!! holy schmoley... the only thing that beats out love hotels is of course anime.

After we had enough of peeking into love hotels we decided to grab a drink somewhere... on the way out of the love district I spotted a sign for what seemed to be a maid cafe so we ventured on up and sure enough IT WAS!!!!!!!!!!! It was Atsuko's first time as well!!! So we were absolutely clueless!!!

But ooooh boy the maid cafe sure did live up to it's expectation yet only seedier and more bizarre than I imagined!!! hahaha...

Upon entering all of the girls working (in maid costumes and animal ears of course) came rushing to the door to greet us. They all had a different acting voice - some like a 14 year old school girl - others like anime characters and the rest were just downright annoying. hahah.... They sat us down and immediately asked us for our names. ehhh um... I mean our "nicknames". I was still frozen in shock so I couldn't think of a name. Our maid then started calling me princess in Japanese. From that point on - they would refer to me as "Princess." When I ordered a drink they all screamed out for the whole cafe to hear: "PRINCESS WANTS A FROZEN STRAWBERRY SMOOOOOOTHIE!!!!!!" "PRINCESS LOOKS SO CUTE TODAY!!!!!" "PRINCESS CAN SPEAK JAPANESE!!!!!!" etc.... (i think you get the point) I think the whole point of this maid cafe was for you to play the role of their 'master.' Their job is to serve you and talk to you and make you feel "at home" and like royalty??? It's also to fulfil a lot of guys' anime fantasies. (ewwww ***shudder**)

The maids were soooo nervous to talk to me... but Atsuko and I tried to calm em down. They chatted with us and gave us animal ears to wear. "PRINCESS LOOKS LIKE A CUTE KITTY NOW!!!!!" ooooh dear..... Sadly they wouldn't let me take pictures of them.... so here are a bunch of Atsuko and I at the cafe. (we took so many in hopes to get some of the workers in the background!)


























But the crowd at the maid cafe was rather scary.... We (of course) were the only women... The customers were either really young drunk guys or older sleezy men. The guy sitting next to Atsuko was wearing HUGE viking horns!?!??!? ummm.... And the guy next to me was singing karaoke on his own with a TV in the corner. The TV above us at our counter was playing this 80's style workout video - but it was just one girl in a weird plaid skirt outfit next to a blue coach. ummmm...

I had to get up to teach the next day so we had to call it a night just before it struck midnight. "OOOOOH>>>> SO SAD - PRINCESS IS LEAVING EVERYONE!!!!!" We politely declined their invitation to stay - paid the 350 yen for 30 minutes (bargain!!!!) and said our sad goodbyes....

but don't worry maids.... I'LL BE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 years...

So.... I forgot to mention..... it's official!!!! I re-contracted for a 2nd year!!!!

Was a no-brainer for me to stay on a 2nd year. I love my schools, my kids, the teachers, I have a rad pad, some great Japanese friends and the economy is in shits back home...

My girlfriend in Gifu prefecture told me the JET funding was cut so 50% of the JETs in Gifu won't even have the choice to extend for a 2nd year. :(

Luckily I got my re-contracting papers last month and my teachers begged me to sign them straightaway to make sure I could get the extension.

I bet the real reason they wanted me to sign 'em straight away is cuz they know this insane snow is coming and they're afraid I might freak out and back out of the contract! yikes!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Part 1 of a Callie Documentary...

I think my students are doing some sort of documentary on me..... they have been videotaping my every move!!!! hahaha.....

This week they were documenting how I study Japanese... They asked me to show them my study tips and my books.... Enjoy this clip they e-mailed me ;)


video

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Welcome Party.... (3 months later)

Sooooooooo... Last night I had my welcome enkai (party)!!!

The Japanese LOVE enkais... and now I can see why... they work sooooo hard and such long hours that its only natural they need an outlet to allow themselves to let loose and party hard! The main enkais at school are: welcome enkais - when you start the job, farewell enkais - when you leave, end of semester enkais and end of the year enkais.

For my welcome enkai they booked a really cute little mom and pop traditional Japanese style restaurant which served "Kaiseki" style Japanese food.

With Kaiseki - presentation is KEY. Everything looked gorgeous!!!!! Even all of the plates, mugs, bowls and glasses were hand crafted. Some of the dishes looked like artwork and you didn't want to touch it!!!

Our night began with an artistic array of colorful fish patties, then came sushi, and then some sort of delicious soup which looked like a piece of modern art... and then this beautiful plate of sashimi which is pictured here. When I asked what the creature was on the bottom of the plate- they told me it was an alien fish with lots of scary legs who lives on the bottom of the ocean. hrmmm... um... ok! eat up!

The food didn't stop there... after the sashimi came loads more such as a baked crossoint over a bowl of onion/miso/some kind of soup... and this amazingly delicious baked apple with some sort of cheese/apple center filling. MMMMmmm.....

I also ate my first UNI!!! (sea urchin) The teachers were sooooo excited they were able to witness my first bite of uni. They couldn't believe I had never had it before. It was surprisingly good!! but maybe because it was actually cooked into this egg stew soup baked kinda dish. :)

I think the teachers were shocked at how willing I was to try everything. I did come across one dish I wasn't too excited to try....


COD SPERM!!!!!!!

ewww... I took a picture of it here in this soup... it looked like a weird distorted white brain. The teachers were laughing hysterically when they saw the look of utter disgust and fear on my face when they told me what it was. But hell - I ate goat head and intestines in Kenya - so what harm can a little fish sperm do me?!?!? I took a bite and it melted in my mouth. soooooo bizarre...... I left it after 2 bites. Was edible but definitely not my favorite dish I've had in Japan! ;)

After we finished the meal we headed out for the nijikai (after party!). One of the teachers took us to this awesome piano/record bar hidden away in Susukino. The owner of the joint was so cool and knew heaps and heaps about music. We listened to the Police, the Rasberries, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, and a bunch of obscure tunes while munching on tofu topped with wasabi, and sweet Japanese style popcorn, almond chocolates, fried rice cakes, and these disgusting wasabi flavored crunchy balls.

Before we went home I dragged the remaining teachers into a purikura booth!!!! hahahaahha... It was late in the night and the purikura area was jam packed with heaps of trendy young girls... and then us! hahah.... One of the teachers was trying to interpret for me the purikura menu and accidentally selected the "romantic" theme. hahaha... Unfortunately I had to take remove the photos due to 'privacy' issues. Sorry!

I can't wait for the next enkai!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Janken is the solution...

Janken (otherwise known as: rock, paper, scissors) can solve any problem here in Japan...

In the States, we all know how to play rock paper and scissors... but for us it's just a game you play to kill time.

Here in Japan, Janken is everywhere and is used in every situation!!! Kids, teenagers and adults all use Janken to solve any problem or decision they may have. My students use it to see who will come to the front of the class to write an answer on the board, my teachers use it to see who has to supervise the cleaning duties for the day. Even last night in breakdancing class - we had to do janken..... I lost and had no idea what I would have to do - but soon realized we were playing janken to see who had to do a solo flying spinning kick in the opening of our dance performance!!!!!! CRAP!!!!!!!

After my breakdancing class I started wondering whether Janken was purely luck or whether I actually sucked because I was unaware of some hidden strategy. After some google research I came across the "World Rock Paper Scissors Society" which reports to have been around since 1842!!! oooooooh... who would have known!?!?! But on this website they have advanced players strategy tips which have you examine your opponent to see whether they are a "rock", "scissors" or "paper" type of person. This close type of examination along with some other tips and tricks will supposedly allow you to accurately guesstimate what your opponent will throw! Geeeeez... I guess I have some studying to do if I don't want to get stuck in the front of the stage doing crazy aerial flying spinning kicks. ufffff.....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kendo 剣道

One of the students who comes to talk to me every day asked me if I would go to their Kendo club after school and learn how to play. I didn't know anything about Kendo before I came to Japan - only that it was a martial art. I used to practice Wing Chun Kung Fu in Chicago, so I thought maybe this would be right up my alley!!!

Oooooh... boy was I wrong!!! It was absolutely NOTHIN' like Wing Chun or Karate!

I walked in to find my students transformed into scary screaming metal faced fighting machines armed with bamboo sticks!!!

video

I guess the word quickly spread that I was joining the Kendo practice after schools on some days - cause when I went on Friday, the entire broadcasting club was there armed with their video cameras!!!!!! Oh boy...

The students showed me how to get into the Kendo gear (oh boy are those gloves and masks smelly!!!!!) they gave me a stick and had me practice with them... I had to learn the names of the different parts of the body because right before you strike you have to scream out like a madwoman the name of the part you are about to hit.

Practice went from about 4:15 - 7pm!!!! And they practice every single day except Sundays. Geez these kids are dedicated (or crazy.) At the end of the practice they had me sit in seiza position in the front of the students with the teacher and I had to um... give a speech in Japanese?!?!?!



Afterwards, I stayed after to chat with the students. Once they took off those scary metal Kendo masks they went from screaming fighting machines back to shy terrified Japanese students. It took me awhile to get them genkified. They presented me with a gift to say thanks for coming to their Kendo club... it was a pumpkin headed elmo hair clip!!!! hahahaha.... Geez I love how random and nice this country is!!! (if it was Kenya I would have been asked to give money or food I'm sure!)

For more on Kendo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendo

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the news again.......

Just got an e-mail off of John saying that I made the Kamiyubetsu town's newsletter!!!!
hahaha...

it reads:
"Also, on the day of the Open House, there were various comprehensive english learning periods. ALT John Sensei and John Sensei's acquaintance, Callie Sensei (a Sapporo ALT), put on fun Halloween games and activities. This was the first time meeting Callie Sensei, but with the kid's positive (?) it was a fun Open House with the parents."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Language Exchange Partners and KY

I've been meeting up with quite a few language exchange partners whom I've met through the International Communication Plaza in Sapporo... It's been great practice for my Japanese and also has been good to make some new friends.

I had been corresponding with one person for quite awhile through e-mail at first. They were so cute in their e-mails and wrote: "I'm little and old. Do you still want to meet me?" Hahahaha.... OF COURSE I DO!!!!!!! I love little old people. I still can't always distinguish male and female names - so I was picturing this wrinkly little old man with a cane... but when I went to the clock tower to meet them... it ended up being this sweet sweet grandmother who's trying to learn English. We had coffee and chatted and she showed me pictures of her recent trip to France. She told me she had 2 tickets for Nou (an old traditional style Japanese theater) and was shocked when I told her I'd go with her in 2 weeks! hahah... She kept saying: "But I'm old. Are you OK to go with me???" Awwww.....

I also meet 2 guys regularly who are the same age as me... We normally meet once a week for a coffee or bite to eat. They are both trying to learn English and are quite cute about it. They are sooo nervous to speak but we're slowly getting better at it... Today I taught them some English cellphone texting slang such as: c u l8r, 2day, hru?, etc...

Then they told me that high school kids use similar slang when talking. I asked for an example... They said the most popular slang is: "KY."

I tried to get the exact translation for this - but I'm still not too sure exactly what it means... (maybe something along the lines of a person who is the butt of a joke or who doesn't know whats going on) Then, he kept saying... "Do you have KY??? I have KY!!!!" I tried to ignore the American connotation with KY... but after he kept repeating it I couldn't help but finally break out laughing. Then I had to explain to the 2 poor guys what KY was in America. We had to use his electronic dictionary to search for the word. hahahaah... When he finally realized what he had been asking me for, you should have seen the look of shock/terror/embarrassment on the poor guy's face!!!!! hahahah...

Funerals, Harambees and Seaweed

Last week one of the teachers I work very closely with sadly lost his mother. He was absent from school for the week. One of the other teachers came up to me and explained what happens when someone in the school has a death in their family. He told me they have a funeral type of ceremony which you can attend, but before that all of the staff in your office are given an envelope in which you write your name on it and put money inside. I asked if I could include a sympathy card, but they said I shouldn't. They told me to just put money in the envelope, write my name and then write down how much you donated. Then they collect all of the envelopes and give them to the family at the funeral.

This process reminded me a lot of the "harambee" spirit in Kenya. "Harambee" is the official motto of Kenya and appears on their coat of arms. Harambee in Swahili can loosely translate to: "working together for a common purpose."

In Kenya, if there is a death in the family, or they need to raise school fees or pay for a hospital bill, then they arrange a harambee. For the harambee they usually have a piece of paper explaining the dilemma and then they walk door to door to their neighbors, friends and family's houses asking for money. Hopefully with the help of their community and friends they can get enough money to cover whatever expenses they have.

But then in Japan I noticed something quite different... A week or so after I gave the envelope I noticed a really nicely wrapped present in my desk drawer. I thought it belonged to another teacher who uses my desk. A week or 2 went by and the present was still there... so I decided to open it to see what was inside. On the outside it said Callie Sorensen, 3,000 yen. HUH!??!?! Was I given a present and then expected to pay for it??? what WAS it??? I opened the beautiful packaging only to find crispy dried seaweed sheets!!!!!! HUH!?!??! $30 for a bit of dried fancy seaweed?!?! I went over to an English teacher and asked him why I was supposed to pay 3,000 yen for seaweed that I didn't even ask for.

He was startled and then quickly explained to me that the seaweed was a present for me. It was to say thank you for giving money at the funeral. ooooooooh.... whoops... hrmmmm... interesting.....

Maybe Kenya should add seaweed gifts to their harambees!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I miss the rains down in Africa...

Lately, I've been getting a lot of letters and emails from teachers, students, friends, and co-workers from Kenya.... For a long while I didn't have any contact with my friends in Kenya so I think it made it a bit easier to move on. The other day I received the sweetest email from the Deaf workers at the HIV testing center I used to volunteer at. They got me up to date on all of the gossip and happenings back in Kenya. Made me really miss the life I used to have there! :(

Then, just this week I was tracked down by a Peace Corps Volunteer whom I've never met. She gave me the sad news that my Kenyan mama who I lived with for 3 months is in the hospital and needs a kidney transplant which will cost 3,000,000 shillings ($50,000). Ufff.... sooo sad... That's a HUGE amount for us Westerners let along a low income Kenyan family. :( I have no idea how to help her.

I guess I've been keeping so busy since I returned home from Kenya that I haven't had much time to miss the life I left behind there... but when I start hearing from people it conjures up so many mixed emotions.

Then... last Thursday at breakdancing class they started playing this great remix of, "I miss the rains down in Africa...." I think I almost started bawling!!!!! Hahahahah... I know it sounds cheesy but geez - I really DO miss the rains in Africa and walking through my village in knee deep red mud... I want to get back to see my students before they graduate next year, but when in the world will I have the time or money to get over there?!?!?! Flights for Xmas time were $3,000!!! Once my students graduate - they will disperse back to their home villages and it will be near impossible to track them down. And quite a few are from Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and various refugee camps. I grew so close to so many of my students so it breaks my heart when I think that I might not ever see them again.

But hey.... this is life, eh??? Luckily I have a new group of students to focus on and grow close to. It's a lot more difficult here because of the language barrier. Also - they go home every day! In Kenya, I was living, eating, working and breathing with my students 24/7. I was their teacher, role model, mother and friend.






Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama, Japan

On Honshu Island, Japan there is a city named: Obama!!!!!!

Watch this clip on CNN to see how they celebrated Obama's victory:
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/11/05/lah.us.elex.japan.obama.cnn

Also an Obama music video straight from Obama, Japan:
http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=fRB2wFhXIPs

Thursday, November 6, 2008

OBAMA!!!!!!!!

OBAMA!!!!! OBAMA!!!!!! OBAMA!!!!!!!!

Wow!!!! Is this really happening?!?!?!?! I am still pinching myself to make sure that I am awake!!!

I clearly remember when Bush was elected into office for the first time. I packed my bags and made a promise to myself that I would leave the country and not come back until he was OUTTA THERE!!!! Well.... for 7 years I have stuck firm to my promise.... but now that he's FINALLY OUT - what do I do now!??!?!?!? I finally feel damn proud to be an American again!!! Maybe this is a sign I should move back to Chicago and finally settle down???? ahhh crap! I can't think about that right now. I'm too busy basking in this Obama-rama!!!

Last night, a few JETs went to Phred's bar in Sapporo to celebrate Obama's VICTORY!!!!!! and to watch his speech on CNN! While we were there making a ruckus, a Japanese man in a suit came over and said he was with the newspaper and wanted to talk to us....

I didn't think he spoke English so when he asked me: "You, Obama, feel how?" I tried to keep my English dummified so he could understand me... I said: "ME HAPPY!!!! ME VERY VERY HAPPY!!!! YEAH!!!!!! I LIKE OBAMA!!! HAPPY!!!!" hahaahha..... then he went over to Crystal, another JET, and she had this 20 minute in depth interview with the guy on Obama's political views and about how this will affect the bond between Japan and the US and who knows what else. hahaha.... whoops....

Well..... after our interviews we had fun with this poor reporter and took loads of photos of him at the bar... and Messy Jesse (not suprisingly) spilled beer all over the place and all over him!!!! hahahaha....




This morning, on the way to work I picked up a copy of the Asahi Shinbun at Sapporo Station and sure enough - the front page was OBAMA!!!! and then inside the paper was a rowdy picture of us celebrating and watching Obama on TV!!!! hahaha...

All I can read is my name in katakana, that I'm 28 years old and a high school English teacher.... I also noticed they mentioned Crystal's name... It's probably for the best I can't read my intellectual response. I tried to look for any mention of Messy Jesse or our rowdy interactions with the poor guy - but I couldn't tell...

When I got to school one of the librarians had seen the article and ran off copies for all of the teachers!!!!! hahahaha.... and then my teachers had me show the students who went absolutely bezerk. oh geeez....

I CAN'T WAIT TIL JANUARY!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO OBAMA GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Taiko class

After all of this hip hoppin' and breakdancin' - I thought it would only be fitting that I get some real Japanese culture pumped into me... so I decided to take up Taiko classes! (Japanese drummin')

One of my Japanese friends found the class for me and helped beg the teacher to let me in since the class was already on their 7th lesson!!!! yikes.... I was thrown right into the deep depths of Taiko... The teacher and others don't speak a lick of English so I've been relying on my not so good sense of what I guess you would call rhythm!

Hahaha... but it's good fun!!! We meet about 3 times a month on random Sundays...

Here's just a sneak peak of the beat we learned during my 2nd class!!!!!! holy schmoley.... I have a lot of practicing to do!

I think they get a kick out of me cause I have no idea what I'm doing and just kind of make up my own beats if I forget some. hahaha.... And I think I've been taking the Japanese a bit too literally.... I kept hearing the teacher say to me: Callie-san... Atama kara!!!!!! (which literally means head from) So I started beatin the beat on my head which sent the students and teachers onto the floor laughin hysterically. I soon found out "atama kara" means from the start.

Whoops..... im learning slowly........

video

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

FIRST SNOWFALL TODAY!!!! where did fall go???

Ahhhh..... Fall colors..... Hokkaido is gorgeous in the fall. But you better pay close attention and don't you dare bat your eyes for more than a second if ya wanna see the colors - cause they changed SOOOOO fast!!!!!!

Luckily I was able to catch the colors on Gingko Avenue in Hokkaido University which was gorgeous!!! These photos don't even do it justice!




But then..... this morning we had our FIRST SNOWFALL IN SAPPORO!!!!!!! holy crap.... At school I was chatting with teachers and telling them how the snow is falling so early and they quickly corrected me and said "oh no no no... it is 8 days later than normal." They also quickly reassured me: "Callie - this is just the beginning. Just you wait!" uh oh....

So yeah.... as I'm sure you can imagine its damn cold nowadays... I had to get my heater working and put towels over all of my windows to try and conserve as much heat as possible! I also went to COSTCO and bought yet another warm blanket!!!!!

This is my heating system for the entire house... Its some kind of big scary kerosene heating machine. I had to pay 30,000yen ($300) to fill up the big gas tank outside (and that didn't even fill up the whole thing!)

And then the gas gets pumped into this guy who spits out flames and lovely kerosene fumes. So in my living room right around the heater is warm - but my bed room and other rooms are FREEEEEZING. I think soon I'll be moving my bed into the living room to keep warm.

I also put a pot of water on the top of the heater so it acts like a humidifier. People say the kerosene sucks all the moisture out of the air.

I'm terrified this old guy will burn my whole house down so I normally turn him off at night and during the day when I'm at work. But my supervisor told me I could leave it on all day so my pipes don't freeze up. But he then added: "But if your house burns down - I did not tell you to leave it on." Ahhhh- that's reassuring!

OK.... now I know I said I would stop questioning things here in Japan... but allow me to ask one simple question: WHY IN THE WORLD DOESN'T JAPAN USE CENTRAL HEATING!??!?!?!??!?!!

Wish me luck staying warm (and alive) this winter!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Breakdancing class!!!!

Soooo... I think I somehow forgot to mention I'm randomly taking breakdancing classes!!!!!!

I told one of my Japanese friends awhile back that I really loved dancing... so she helped me find a class really close to my house. Little did I know it was going to be a mix of breakdancing/hip hop and street moves!!!

My Japanese isn't good enough to know exactly whats going on.... but I hear keywords like: "stage, people watching, december..." so I think we're actually going to perform a routine on stage too!!!!! ahhhh crap!!!!

but its awesome!!! Our dance is slowly comin together but I can't seem to get the headstands down! I'm afraid I'll break my neck!


This is a picture of me with my teacher TOMOPP. (not sure if I should be comin up with a breakin name... hrmm... any suggestions?!?!)

He's tryin to teach me how to have a "KILLA FACE." I think I laugh too much in class. hahah.... but my killa face needs a lot of work. Hopefully by December I'll be able to pull one off!

Wish me luck! I'll try and videotape our performance and post it on my blog - so stay tuned!!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

only 3 days until America VOTES OBAMA!!!!!!!

wow........ FINALLY the day has come.......... when Americans can finally be proud to be Americans again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I left the country the second I graduated University.... and I told myself I wouldn't go back until Bush was out of office!!!! Well... it's been 7 years since I left and I've kept my word! But FINALLY Obama has come to the rescue!!! In only 3 days he will be elected as the next President!!!!!!! wow...

When I was in Peace Corps Kenya we had the opportunity to meet him! He flew over to Kenya to visit his Grandmother. Peace Corps invited volunteers to come and meet him at the American Embassy in Nairobi. I felt so honored because I was able to stand next to him and be his sign language interpreter!!!!!!!

Afterwards, Michelle, Obama and their kids came over to talk to us. I was a dork and wore his "OBAMA FOR US SENATE" sticker which he used to run in Illinois for US Senator (I brought it over with me to Kenya to remind me that I should still have hope for our country!!!) He pointed it out straight away and asked where the hell I got that in Kenya. hahahaha....

So PLEEEEEEEEEASE America VOTE VOTE VOTE FOR OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Obama's YES WE CAN music video!!! http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY

Obama's Campaign Video: http://timesonline.typepad.com/uselections/2008/10/the-obama-infom.html