9/11 – Sept. 2021

Hello everyone.

For every generation, there are days and events that are “turning points” in life. For many people in Japan, the Hanshin earthquake in 1995 or the Tohoku tsunami in 2011 are major events. For people my age in Canada and America, the terror attacks on Spetember 11th, 2001 is an event we will never forget.

I was living in Canada at the time, studying at university. On September 11th we had just started a new school year. I remember that I was in the cafeteria buying breakfast when the cook told me that something had happened in New York. All the students that came to school watched the events on TV that day. Nobody went to class.

9/11 actually involved 4 airplanes. Two hit the World Trade Center in New York, one hit the Pentagon building, and one more crashed in a field because the passengers, who learned of the first three planes, fought the terrorists. Their heroic actions saved lives.

All other airplanes flying to America had to land somewhere else. Many of those planes came to Canada. The tiny town of Gander, population 12,000, accepted 38 planes and almost 7,000 passengers and crew. People opened their homes to strangers in need. It is now a famous story of friendship between Canada and America.

After 9/11, America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only recently did they leave Afghanistan, making the 20 year war the longest in America’s history. A whole generation of children in both countries have never known peace. The image of muslims around the world was damaged by these events, leading to prejudice and fear.

Even though it was 20 years ago, every 9/11 I wake up thinking about that day. I probably will for the rest of my life. For you, it is something from your history book. Today, covid-19 is the defining event of your generation. You will remember pre-covid and post-covid, how things were before, and how they were after. Hopefully if we all work together, it is something that your children will only read about in their history books.

May the peace of the lord be with you.

Curling … in summer? – Sept. 2021

Hello everyone,

The topic in our M3 conversation book this week is “Sports”. In the reading section, it mentions curling, which was the sport I played when I was in high school.

Most of my students don’t really know how to play curling, or what the rules are. So, I thought this was a good chance to teach them a new sport while using English. First we watched a short video about the rules. Second, we watched some professional curling shots. Third, I gave them a little quiz about how to count points. For example…But, all of that doesn’t matter if we can’t play. Unfortunately, there are no curling rinks near our school. With a little imagination, some paper, tape, and some poker chips, we managed to find a good solution.
It is fun to learn new English, and it is easier to remember if you use it in action. Have a good week!

Term 2, Start! – Sept. 2021

Hello everyone,

It has been a long time since I last wrote on this page. I thought of some different topics but it was difficult to find some good news. In Japan we had wild summer weather, more rain than I have ever seen in August. On the other side of the world, there was no rain at all and fires were a big problem. Amidst all that, covid continues to cause problems everywhere and seems impossible to slow down.

So, with the start of the new term, it is important to refresh ourselves. There are many good things that are happening right in front of us that we should take the time to enjoy. Reconnect with your friends, do your best on a test, and take on a new challenge for fall. If we have success in our own lives, we are more optomistic and able to help the world at large.

Have a good week,

Allen

An Early Morning Visitor – Aug. 2021

Hello everyone,

Summer vacation has started! I hope that you can relax and refresh during this time. Of course, some of you are still coming to school to study, do homework, take extra lessons, or meet with your club. Do your best!

I am here a few times this month as well to open the online English room afterschool. I also have a long “to-do” list of jobs I couldn’t finish during the first term. Also, the gym is free in the morning and I enjoy shooting some baskets and listening to music to start the day.

The other morning I arrived at work early and found that someone else was even earlier than I was…

This little guy was inside the school checking things out! I got him on a piece of newspaper and put him outside where he belongs, but later that morning I found another crab inside. Was it the same one? Was it a brother? Why are all these crabs so far from the ocean? Can we give him a name?

Anyway, enjoy your summer and see you in a few weeks.

The Olympics have started! – July 2021

Hello everyone,

This week we have parent-teacher meetings for three days, and then closing ceremony on Thursday. Hopefully you can use these three days to start your summer homework. The earlier you finish, the more time you have to relax!

The other thing you can do on these hot summer days is watch the Olympics on television. These Olympics have been controversial because of the corona virus, but now that they are happening I think we should support the athletes who have worked so hard.

Last night I enjoyed watching the judo competition. I don’t know much about judo, but the announcers were so excited because Japan’s althetes were doing so well. At the end of the day, I was amazed to see that a brother and sister, Uta Abe and her brother Hifumi, both win gold medals on the same night. Can you imagine how happy that family is today?

Hopefully there will be more positive stories to come from these games. Of course, there are negative points that need to be talked about too, but balancing both of these things should be our goal. Have a good week,

Allen

Hifumi with the pin.
Uta, after winning gold.
Brother and sister together at the end.

Long and Short vowels – July 2021

Hello everyone,

The term is almost finished, and we only have two more days of classes left. This week in my M1 class, we talked about long and short vowel sounds.

Unlike Japanese, which only has five vowel sounds, English has 20! So we took some time to practice some of the long vowel sounds that you see on the left, and the short vowel sounds you see on the right. How did we practice? By playing karuta of course.

After I said the card color, I said the vowel sound. Students had to be the fastest to get the card, and then hold it up for me to check. After we finished our karuta game we had 5 minutes left. So, what did we do?

We made card towers of course!

The next two days are holidays, Ocean Day and Sports Day. You can watch the start of the Olympics if you like. See you on Saturday!

CNN News Training – July 2021

Hello everyone,

Your tests are finished and summer vacation is coming soon. You only have a couple weeks left. During this time we try and have some different events and speakers. For example, in my M3 class today, we will listen to Mr. Yuasa talk about Nagasaki because of our trip there in November.

For my H3A class, they will soon start their news training in their online lessons. Before the lesson they will read a news item. For example, this week is about protests in Thailand:

Then, they will think about the topic, and also how it relates to themselves in Japan:

I think that by studying many different topics from around the world, my students can reach a better understanding of what is happening outside Japan, and how it relates to their lives in Japan.

Have a good week!

New beginnings… – July 2021

Hello everyone,

Today is the first day of the term one final exams. I hope you have done your best and are ready to show your teachers what you have learned. Good luck!

Two days ago I was walking to the store to buy lunch, and I heard a lot of noise from Yakatamachi Church. After finishing my purchase I walked over and took a look. Here is a picture of what I saw:

I knew that there were plans to build a new church, and that on Sundays the church was using our school chapel for their services, but I didn’t realize it was going to start so soon!

There are a lot of memories in that building for both the congregation and our students. We have held many services there, and it was a hub for the Shin-ai community. Of course, it will be exciting when the new church is completed a year from now. However, there is still nostalgia for the old one.

Hopefully the construction goes well, and we can celebrate together in the new church in 2022. Have a good week,

Allen.

Record Heat in Canada… in June?! – June 2021

June 30th update… here was the weather today. Scary stuff…

Hello everyone,

We are close to the end of June, and so far the weather in Japan has not been too hot! I know that it will be hot soon, but I’ve been happy to enjoy a cool month. Unfortunately, not everywhere has had the same luck.

Every Sunday I call my mother and grandmother in Canada. We talk about small things, like the our jobs and what happened in our families during the week. But, last Sunday when I called, we only talked about the weather.

Right now in Western Canada there is a “heat dome”. This is when hot weather is trapped in one place and pushes down, making very hot weather. Yesterday, Canada recorded the hottest temperature – ever – … 46.1! See that pink dot? That is where my mother and father live.

The hot weather will continue for another few days. Communities are setting up “cooling stations” in libraries and community centers because most houses in this area do not have air conditioning. In fact, I never lived in a house with air conditioning until I moved to Japan at 25 years old!

I am worried about my grandmother, who turns 93 years old this week. I am also worried about many animals, such as my parents’ horses, which are not used to this weather. Hopefully everything turns out ok. There is still July and August to come…

Allen.

Cell Phones at School – Jun. 2021

Hello everyone,

Today is Monday, and after morning classes we now have homeroom time in the afternoon. The high school students are talking about their new student council, and the junior high school students have study time. There are only 4 days until final exams, so this is a good chance for my class to finish any homework and start their review.

When I came up to the classroom at the end of lunch time, I saw many different groups talking together. I thought it looked like a happy place, because everyone was talking together face to face.

I know some other school allow students to use cell phones during lunch time and afterschool. I feel a little bad for those students, however, because every moment more that they spend on their phone is a moment less they are making connections with their classmates.

Not such an interesting school life…

Of course, students use their phones after they go home, and on weekends, and on holidays, and… and… and. But, it is nice to have a time and place away from the screens, a place to laugh and shout and be silly and be a kid. That is as important as what we learn between the covers of our books.