In sweat-summer heat
first the thunder, then lightning
this backward storm strike –
Sharp the rise and fall
this faceless pain inflicted
leaves an evening burn.
It’s some haikus, my old friends. I went to my first and certainly not my last evening of Kendo Club today. Had I known such a thing existed on my campus, I would have gone sooner. I even quizzed half my students about it, but I was clearly asking the wrong questions, the wrong students, or questions too difficult for their level. Two thirds didn’t know – one third said they did kendo at high school, but now don’t. Kendo is Japanese fencing, to sum it up briefly, and I was unprepared for the unrestrained aggression and violence, the pounding of the floor, the echoing bone-like thwack of the sticks – respectively the “thunder” and the “lightning” in the first verse. And it is definitely thunderstorm season here – there’s one every third day, pretty much.
Last time I was here, I promised a bit of a scoop on how Spanish students (and people) are different from the Japanese. Well, it’s been over a month since I promised that, so I’d best get down to it.
I’m a very busy chappy these days. I’m working from 9-6, which is a darn-sight harder than I’ve been used to in Spain. It’s also work where I constantly have to think, to focus and concentrate and do it right. So it’s different from the potato harvesting I used to do, where I could just switch off my brain and keep going ’til my arms get tired. And although it’s not as hard work as some of the summer camps I’ve done have been, it’s more continuous. At least at those camps, I got a lot of time off, could properly relax, and then at the end of the month, it was over. Here, it’s three months. When I reached that one month point and realised how much I had to go, I sort of slumped down in to it.
Now, however, the end is in sight again – it’s about a month to go to the end. I talk negatively, but I love my job. I love teaching, and doing a job when I can see a noticeable change and improvement in my students. And I love teaching students at a university age. 18-22s are easier to teach than kids, and more fun to teach than adults. My students – they’re serious and fun-loving, they’re intelligent, perceptive, thoughtful, and friendly. It’s because of them that I’m seriously considering taking another contract out here.
So, I talked a bit about how the place is different out here. But the people? Well, if anything, they’re more different…