Speech day

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Minsan Konichiwa
Watashino nama ee wa hannah leggetto desu

Minasan ni aete ureshi I desu

Watashi Airulando kara kimashite
Kigaruni hanahshika kete kudasai
Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
(It looks small but its impossible to pronounce!)

August 30th was the day I was partially dreading, but still excited for. Noda Sensei had helped me translate my introduction speech into Japanese a while ago, but we had to chop it quite significantly as I was finding it near impossible to read. Should have practiced the ol alphabet a bit in advance, wouldn’t have gone amiss, but sure no worries just so long as I attempted something I’d get some points hopefully.  I practiced all weekend and had the speech hung everywhere in my house with red underline on most of it to help me with the trickier words. I was determined to give it a good shot.

I woke up on Monday with a ridiculous cough, one of the spluttery kind, perfect for a speech. This didn’t really help my nerves at all and then having to climb into a full two piece suit in 35degrees just topped it off, usually I get away with a shirt and a skirt but speech day is formal.

We end up being late for it as Noda Sensei got distracted and forgot what time it was after the morning meetings, running down the hallway is not good prep for a speech in this heat. I arrive into a hall jammered with the entire school, both teachers and students, all waiting for me, oops. I’m seriously sweaty at this stage, can feel the drips rolling down the back of my legs, my hair is wet, as for the page I’m holding it’s actually falling apart in my hand. I know that is horrible information for anyone to read but I’ve never quite experienced such an uncomfortable feeling and I think it’s seriously vital for you to know about it 😉

I walk onto the stage with the vice principal who is rather a good bit shorter than me, this encourages lots of laughing, but nothing unexpected there! He introduced me a bit in Japanese and then it was my turn. Suddenly the entire place goes creepy quiet, I can’t hear them even breathing, I almost got a fright, the fans stopped in a split second and even the giggles…. WOW

Off I go launching into my best of best attempts of this Japanese speech, I hit the second word and the silence is split by a serious amount of laughing, I obviously didn’t do a good job at ‘Minasan Konnichiwa’, no worries I power through it with the occasional laughing splutter but generally have their attention. Then, oh then, it’s the English version, which I personally was looking forward to reaching but thought otherwise after I reached it. The laughing and talking just got louder and louder as I continued through it. I realized after a few words how little they were understanding and how little they were listening so had to emergency cut bits out mid speech. It was just too much and I didn’t want them to drown me out with their giggles, that would be just horrific, me standing there desperately trying to shout over them. I was well aware that I had to speak at a snail’s pace for anyone to understand, so it was pretty hard as I was trying to get it done before they got way too bored of hearing absolute nonsense to their ears! Well I successfully made it through, lots more bowing and I jumped off the stage pronto.

I know of course that when they laugh it is not malicious what so ever but more a nervous giggle, I wasn’t offended at all and as I was walking through the crowd they were even waving and smiling at me.

At the ceremony they sing a lovely song which they tried to make me sing and then I reminded them I can’t for life of me read kanji お日よご寒ズ てぃざう  this is the kind of thing I was looking at. Scary stuff, so I watch from the back as a huge mass of them sing together. I realize how very different I am right there. I look so very different. I am probably the tallest person in the room, at least top three tallest including the boys, and I’m not just a bit taller I’m seriously taller. In front of me about 800 students every single one with straight jet black hair, reading this magical script. No wonder they stare at me, here I am doing the exact same. Generally speaking there is an unwritten rule that Japanese and foreigners can stare at each other, it is never intended as rude or offensive, it is merely an exchange of wonder and interest.

The PTA then present money donations to the principal for the school, lots more bowing and then its all done. Thank the lord I can remove my blazer before I hit the floor.


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