“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thorough
The Fall Term
I think that for most teachers in Japan, the fall term tends to be the busiest out of all the school year. At least, for me, it always has been for me. We not-only have our normal classes and duties to undertake, but we also have fall festivals, sports festivals, culture festivals, health checkups/exams, and various other things we may or may not have volunteered to do.
In all my years on the JET Program, I have to say that this year has been hands-down the busiest school year to-date. Furthermore, I was also volunteered to help translate for ENN Tourism, as we had Tenri University students come participate in the Ogawa (shrine-carrying) Festival. Then, a few weeks after that, I was asked to volunteer to help with yet another ENN event: a collaborative eikaiwa class held in Soni Village (which, thankfully, didn’t require any preparation whatsoever). Additionally, I also had to plan, prepare, and execute a presentation in front of 20 kindergarten teachers from all around Yoshino-gun for the「平成30年度 吉野郡幼稚園・こども園会教育研究発表会」, which is basically a research and development conference that helps provide teachers with ways and ideas to improve their current classroom environments.
Lastly, what occupied my weekends and most of my weeknights for several months was preparing an 85-minute presentation for our annual Skills Development Conference (SDC) for Nara ALTs and JTEs. To say the least, I am ‘pooped’, and all I want to do is to rest, but there’s still so much I still have to do. However, if I was asked if I would do it all again, I would respond with an emphatic, YES (without question)! Despite it being my last year on the JET Program, this year has been an incredible learning experience for me and I look forward to seeing where things head for me in the not-too-distant future.
Let’s Get Personal
Work hasn’t been the only stress dealer, as life became a little more complicated when I found out my partner of 10 months had been cheating on me. The night I brought it up was probably one of the toughest nights for me, emotionally. On August 20th, six days before my birthday, I chose to end the relationship. The following day, while I was at work, I decided to rewatch a TEDtalk video by Esther Perel, a relationship therapist. The video was about infidelity (which also happened to have Japanese subtitles) and how people always have a choice between ending the relationship or starting over.
To be honest, I never imagined myself to be in the situation that I was in. I always thought that it was ultimately due to peoples’ lack of better judgement that they ended up with a cheater, or their lack of attention to detail in selecting an appropriate partner. Sadly, I had come to realize first-hand that it was neither of those things. I also realized that the silly American saying: “once a cheater, always a cheater” was also a fallacy. We took a short break from each other, and during that period of time, my partner returned to Tochigi to be with friends and family, and chose to take the time to really think about whether I wanted things to work out.
I used to be the person who rolled their eyes at people who gave cheaters a second chance. I’d even chuckle when they would say things like “they’ve changed,” but in the end the relationship only really concerns two people; and whether or not they are willing to commit to one another. Although it would be easy and justified for me to play the part of the victim in this scenario; I think it was even more important for me to analyze, accept, and take responsibility for my own faults in the relationship. I think it would be easy for anyone to overlook these things, as anger, fear, and disappointment, tends to be a brutal concoction. At any rate, in the end, I decided to give him a second chance. I pride myself in my ability to understand people, and if there was one thing that I came to understood more about my partner through this experience – it was seeing their humanity in it all. I think sympathy and empathy play a major role in the case of forgiving someone for something as hurtful as this. As a couple, we’ve talked about this before, yet regardless of how far we move forward, the scar left behind from the infidelity will always be there for the both of us, and we will never be able to forget it; However, I think it will only serve as a reminder to the both of us, about our lowest low as a couple, and what we need to do in order to prevent any scars from occurring again, in the future.