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Aloha, please let me introduce myself! My name is Johnna Tanji, but most people know me by my nickname, Nana. I am the new ALT at Akashi Kita Senior High School and I am very excited to be working at such a wonderful school. Though I am a new teacher at Akashi Kita, I have been touched by the accepting kindness that the students and teachers have shown me. I am looking forward to the new friendships and experiences that will grow as I continue to teach at Akashi Kita. Before introducing more about our school, I would like to tell you more about myself.

About me

flag In the United States I was born in Hawaii, but I have also lived in Arizona and Wisconsin. Before I came to Japan I lived on the island of O'ahu in the city of Honolulu with my family. My ethnicity is Japanese but I am a citizen of the United States. The Hawaiian Islands have become a melting pot for many cultures of the Asian/Pacific region. Starting from the early 1800s many immigrants came to Hawaii in search of a new life. They worked hard on pineapple or sugar cane plantations to support their families in their new homes. Among those immigrant workers were my ancestors. Today, four generations later, I consider Hawaii my home even though I am full Japanese/Okinawan.

After attending high school in Hawaii, I went to study at Beloit College, a small liberal arts college in southern Wisconsin. My desire to learn more about my ethnicity led me to major in East Asian Studies, while my interest in studying the connections between culture and science led me to major in Physics. To balance my academic study of culture and science with concrete experiences, I knew that I needed to come to Japan.

With much excitement and anticipation I applied the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. I have always dreamed of the opportunity to teach. In Hawaii, my mother is a teacher so I have spent much of my life in the classroom. After finding out that I was accepted into the JET Program and placed in Akashi, I could hardly wait to come and start teaching! Now that I am finally here, sometimes it doesn't feel real! So far I have met many wonderful people at Akashi Kita, and I enjoy teaching my first-year students English. I have that as I continue to teach more I will grow into a stronger teacher, and my students will learn as much from me as I learn from them!

About Akashi Kita high school

approach I am new to Akashi Kita High School but I will do my best to introduce the school. In Japanese, Akashi Kita's official name is: gΖkwZh. The first three characters of the school's name are pronounced Akashi Kita. gAkah or gh means bright or cheerful, gshih or g΁h means stone, and gkitah or gkh means north. I must agree with my predecessor (Heather Jost) that this name fits perfectly for this school! The students here are very smart and enthusiastic, while the school itself rests on a small hall surrounded by many rice fields and vegetable gardens. A silver observatory dome that glitters in the sunlight, a wonderful view of the famous Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and peaceful natural surroundings are some physical factors that make our school distinct.

knowlAkashi Kita was founded in 1971 and it is one of five public high schools in the Akashi area. When translated to English, the school motto is: gIndependence. Cooperation. Creation.h One image associated with our school is this illustrated owl drawn by a student when she was a first year.

At school all of the students are required to wear uniforms, and the school's reputation and self-responsibility are very important. With all the rules, though, there is definitely no lack of personality. Students are together with their homeroom classes for all three years and the teachers move with their classes, so school becomes like a home away from home, with everyone working with much dedication. I have noticed that each homeroom class has its own personality and react differently to the same activities.

So far I have only had the opportunity to teach all of the First-Year students for the Oral Communications class. Since I am new to teaching I have often found myself challenged, nervous, excited, and rewarded. I hope that my students are learning as much from me as I am learning from them!

mark_of_rosesOutside of the classroom, Akashi Kita is well known for many reasons. Before even coming to Japan, I remember hearing about the wonderful brass band! Most certainly, the school's marching band has become very famous. I have been told that just this last January, the Akashi Kita Green Band travelled to California to participate in the 2008 Rose Parade! It is a great honor for the students to travel and represent their school at such a famous festival!

Since high school in Japan is not mandatory, students must take entrance exams and apply to the school of their choice. Every November many high schools host an gOpen Campush afternoon when Junior High school students can visit some high schools that they would like to attend. Akashi Kita has one of the highest numbers of Junior High school student applicants. Perhaps one of the reasons is because of our award-winning marching band. Everyday after school participants in the Brass Band Club practice until it gets dark, providing everyone with a symphony of sounds and favorite melodies. During my first Sports Day experience I had the opportunity to watch and hear the marching band perform! I was very moved by the experience and look forward to the next opportunity to watch the students perform again.

Participating in club activities is an important part of high school life at Akashi Kita. Perhaps about 90% of the students belong to an after school club activity. Even though all of the students are busy with classes and studying, they are dedicated to their club activities. Many students practice for hours after school each day and even on the weekends! I am amazed at how hard the students try even if the weather is unbearably hot and humid or raining. It seems that everyone tries really hard and has a lot of fun at the same time!

At Akashi Kita I have had the opportunity to participate in some of the club activities after school. I'm one of the teachers in charge of the English Speaking Society, or ESS club. Right now I only have a small group of students, but we have fun practicing English, watching movies, and preparing for speech contests. Sometime soon we would like to practice using English through a cooking activity! In addition to doing the ESS club, I have also joined in activities with the Kendo Club and Ikebana Club. Soon I will also have the chance to experience the traditional Japanese tea ceremony with the Sado Club.

I have heard that every June there is the annual Cultural Festival, or Bunkasai. It is an opportunity for the students to show off their talents to the whole school. I am looking forward with anticipation to participating in my first Cultural Festival!

Though I have only been living in Japan and working at Akashi Kita a little over three months, I feel that I have already learned and experienced so much! Since I have come to Japan, I have been challenged by new situations and I have felt overwhelmed many times. Despite all of the hardships I have had many great learning experiences and made very good friends. My perspective of the world has broadened and I am able to see a side of it that is very different from what I was used to. I look forward to all of the exciting and wonderful experiences that await me as my stay in Japan lengthens, and I continue to teach at Akashi Kita High School.

Oct. 2008

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