Friday, August 01, 2008

Hiroshima 2nd Annual English Camp

This year was the second English Camp sponsored by the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education. It was also the second year in which I volunteered my services as a camp Assistant Language Teacher, or ALT for short.

What did I do there? Well, lots. Basically, 10 native English speaking ALTs, like myself, got assigned approximately 30 students each. For a week we would eat, sleep, play games, teach, bathe, and bunk with these students. Over the course of three intensive days of English learning the children would be immersed into a "English Only" speaking environment and gain new found English speaking abilities while simultaneously honing in on their various skill levels. The camps design ensures the children leave with improved English skills, new friends, and a life changing educational experience.

At the camp 200 some students learned English songs, joined in communications activities sponsored by the JETs and ALTs, created all English skits, engaged in sports activities with us native speakers of English, and furthermore, participated in group activities focusing on enhancing English and communicative skills. But the best part, and the funnest part for all those who attended, was inevitably the social engagement and interaction with one other during the off hours.

Last year's camp only lasted 2 days before getting prematurely cancelled due to being whiped out by a Typhoon. We and the students had to evactuate and it was a sad waste of time and energy. This year, however, was entirely the opposite. It was way too hot, reaching 37 celsius during the day with 80% humidity. We were drenched most of the time, not only in our own sweat, but in the pure mugginess of the weather. This was the most uncomfortable part, but we all soldiered on together.

If you're a young Japanese man, count yourself lucky. The guy to girl ratio at the camp was a whopping 8 girls for every 1 boy. Why couldn't the summer camps I attended growing up be like that? Anyway, here the total of my boys. Six in all.

As for my ladies, this table and also the one behind this one, were my girls. Aren't they cute? Well, even though the weather was ferociously unrelenting, this years camp went a lot more smoothly and many new friendships were forged. All in all, I'd say this is one of the most excellent experiences a young Japanese person can have. By getting out of their crammed concreted jungles of the city or the sparsely populated farmlands of the country side, these kids got to meet each other, bond, share some unforgettable experiences, and take home stories that will last them a life time. And what's better than that? Home sweet home maybe... and boy am I glad to be back in a building with air conditioning! It's like Dorothy Gail says, there's no place like home! But the camp will live on in all the attendees hearts and memories. Until next year that is. It's hot, so stay cool, and have a good one ya'all.

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