Shakotan seems genuinely happy to have me as their Assistance Language Teacher (ALT). On May 12th, I was introduced to the entire town of Shakotan via an automated message that popped up on everyone’s IP phone at 7:30am. Then the same message was replied at 6:00pm.
Every home and business in Shakotan is connected by an “IP phone” network, which is like a landline phone with camera and big touch-screen. This means you can have a video call with anyone in town. Promptly at 7:30 every morning (and repeated at 6pm), the IP phone transmits a local message to everyone, as another way to disseminate information. Sometimes it’s a reminder that it’s Driving Safety Week; sometimes it’s a warning about organic trash protocol, so as not to attract bears (or so is my limited understanding of that one). In this case, the message was an official introduction of me to the town. As the first foreigner ever to take up residence in this particular village, I’m apparently big news right now.
On May 17th, a story about me ran in the Hokkaido Shinbun (北海道新聞). I’ve included a newspaper clipping below, complete with a photo of my mad teaching skills in action. The article is in Japanese, so many of you will have trouble reading it. In THAT case, it says that I’m a devilish handsome American; popular with the students, skilled at Tae Kwon Do, and that I have a wonderful singing voice to boot. Oh, and I think it mentions that I love Japanese food.
I’ve had my photo taken once more, this time for the Shakotan City Council’s newsletter, at least that’s what I thought they meant. (I’ve really got to learn more Japanese…) However that one hasn’t come out yet. I’m looking forward to it, because the photographer came back, right after lunch, and photographed me and the students playing soccer. That really is my favorite part of the day.