Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Little Spoken But Much Shared

I am the only adviser for Pen-Pal Club at my junior high school. This is unusual since I'm not a real teacher after all. My supervisor left at the end of summer break to take care of her sick mother. We were advisers together.

Now it's just me.

I actually wasn't anticipating Pen-Pal Club to continue. Both us and Computer Club have shockingly small numbers for being part of a junior high school of about 500 students. While most clubs (sports, music, student council, art) have a few dozen at least. Badminton Club is bursting with almost 100 kids. Both Computer and Pen-Pal Club Club have about five members each, on a good day. Consistently we had four members, three girls and one boy. The girls split their time between Tea Ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement), and Drama Club and could only attend a couple times a month. We meet on Thursdays.

Morikage is the family name of the only boy member of Pen-Pal Club. The teachers call him Morikage-kun (an ending that either implies the person is young or close to you). So do I.

Morikage-kun is a member of Judo Club as well. He doesn't particularly like judo. But his mom wants him to be active and so judo is his compromise so that he can come on Thursdays and spend an hour after school writing emails in English to people across the world.

Since my supervisor left I assumed the kids would call Pen-Pal club quits. At least until we got another adviser. None of the girls have come since before summer break. But every week I got to Pen-Pal Club because every week Morikage-kun comes to staffroom and asks for Claire Sensei.

In Japan, if one student wants to participate in a club it's enough of a reason for the club to exist.

Morikage-kun is a shy first year student. He doesn't know much English and isn't a very dedicated student during English lesson. I usually spot him drawing very impressive scenes from his favorite anime on his desk. I never tell him to stop because they're really good drawings. And because I like him.

So we don't talk much. I ask how he is in Japanese. He smiles and says fine. He helps me unlock the door and disable the security system in the computer lab. He always stands next to me as I enable it again after Pen-Pal Club is finished. The directions are in Japanese and his careful attention has helped things to not go terribly awry.

I can't give him much feedback and since he's shy he doesn't ask for what little I can give. But he comes every week. And as we part company half-way down the hallway, he smiles brightly and says, "Good-bye. Thank you."

We don't speak much, but we've shared a lot these last couple of months.