Hello! Or as we would say in Australia, Gfday! I am Brianna, the new ALT for Akashikita Senior High School. I have been at this school for one month now, and I am so happy to be in such a pretty place, surrounded by such friendly students! Even though classes havenft started yet, there have been so many students around participating in club activities, and I have been so lucky to have been able to meet lots of lovely students and teachers. I canft wait for classes to start tomorrow!
I would like to explain a little bit about who I am and where I come from. My name is Brianna Thompson, and I am from Australia. I grew up in a city in Australia called Wollongong, which is about the same size as Akashi (approx. 300,000 population). It is also right next to the ocean, about an hour train ride away from a very big city (Sydney) and it reminds me of Akashi in a lot of ways. I went to University in Wollongong, where I studied Biotechnology, and then stayed for postgraduate studies in Bionics. Bionics is an area of science that combines BIOlogy and electroNICS - it involves interfacing between electrical systems and the humans body. I worked on the Bionic Ear, which is a device that allows totally deaf people to hear again. I was trying to make a material that would make nerve cells survive better, to allow the bionic ear electrodes to send signals to the nervous system better. After I finished my PhD, I moved to Melbourne to do science research at Monash University in Melbourne. I studied ionic liquids and applications in biotechnology. I am sorry for the all of the science talk, but I like science and I think that Akashi Kita is a great school if you like science too. More about that laterc
My family live in Wollongong. I have a mother, a father, a younger brother, and two grandmothers. My father is an engineer and my mother is a teacher. My hobbies are swimming, taking photos (not very good ones), eating, singing karaoke with my friends and playing piano. I love animals, and in Australia I had a pet cat named Pepper. I am a bit clumsy and I am bad at sport, but I still like to be active as much as I can. I also really like to laugh, so I spend a lot of time laughing at some of the clumsy or silly things that I do. This is very true in Japan, where I canft even figure out how to use my rice cooker!
Australia is a very large country with a relatively small population. The whole population of Australia is only 22 million people, even though the country is over 7.5 million km2. That means that there are only 2.5 people per km2 in Australia! Thatfs a lot less than Japan, which has over 330 people per km2. Australia is famous for our interesting wildlife (kangaroos, koalas, platypus, echidna, dingoes and many more unique animals), our beautiful landscapes (Uluru, Sydney Harbour, the Warrumbungles) and our friendly people. Australia has a history stretching back thousands of years with the Aboriginal people, but was only settled by Europeans just over 200 years ago. That means that there are no buildings in Australia older than about 200 years old. I have been very amazed at being able to walk around castles and temples that are hundreds of years old. For example, Himeji castle is close to Akashi, and parts of it are almost 700 years old!
Australia is a part of the Commonwealth, meaning that Queen Elizabeth is our head of state, although we have our own government and make our own laws. Australia is a very multi-cultural place, with a lot of people from different European and Asian countries all living together. This means that Australia has a lot of really great food! Most Australians like to live near the beach, so most of our bigger cities are on the coast somewhere. I love Australia, and I hope that I can tell lots of students more about it in the next year. The Hyogo Prefecture has a good exchange program with Western Australia (a state in Australia), so many of the teachers I have met have visited Australia.
ABOUT AKASHIKITA SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
As I am very new, and donft speak much Japanese, I will quote from my predecessor (Johnn Tanji, a physicist who was from Hawaii, who the students love and miss a lot!):
In Japanese, Akashi Kita's official name is: g¾ÎkwZh. The first three characters of the school's name are pronounced Akashi Kita. gAkah or g¾h means bright or cheerful, gshih or gÎh means stone, and gkitah or gkh means north. Akashi 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.
Even though I have only been here a month, I love Akashikita High School! The students here are really enthusiastic and so dedicated in their club activities. Ever day during summer, I have seen the track-and-field club, the baseball club, the soccer club, the soft tennis club, the swimming club and the weightlifting club practicing hard, even though it has been very, very hot and humid! I have also been to the flower arranging club, heard the incredible Brass Band practicing all around the school (and seen them learning marching outside in the heat), visited English Summer Seminars with the E.S.S. (English Speaking Society) and tie-dyed some handkerchiefs using onion skins with the Science club. I am so impressed with how hard working Akashikita High school students are - they have even been studying in the library all through summer, and I am sure they will all do very well in their end-of-summer exams coming up.
Akashikita has just been made a Superscience School (SSH), which means that there are lots of students here who are enthusiastic about science. Thatfs great for me, because I can talk about my work before I came to Japan! The Superscience course means that I will be teaching some science lessons to a few classes in English. I think that the students who will get to learn some science in English are very lucky, because English is the main language used in science, and it will give them a great head start if they want to do more science after high school. I am a bit nervous about those classes, though, because I am a biologist - the physics classes are definitely going to be as hard for me as they are for the students.
As you can see from looking around this website, I have been very lucky with the school that I have been placed in. It has beautiful grounds, with a lovely view over Akashi all the way to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (especially from the top floor of the South building - the girls toilet has a particularly beautiful view over the city). The students are smart, dedicated and enthusiastic and I think that their teachers should be proud to have created such a wonderful environment for learning and developing. I am excited about my upcoming year here, and I hope that I can help the students to have a good time, and speak a lot of English too!