Kuji City Hall -- the Board of Education Office is on the third floor.
Yamadate at my desk. This picture was actually taken on Saturday, when we went to the office to get my apartment keys. Liz--the other FC grad here--sits directly across from me.
I arrived at the office in City Hall yesterday morning, not exactly sure what to expect.
I knew that I was going to meet the mayor of Kuji and have some sort of interview, and I knew there was going to be a gift exchange.
As it turned out, I was the star of a Welcome Ceremony. What an appropriate name since I felt extremely welcomed. In fact, I felt like a celebrity!
It started when Yamadate took me away from the Board of Education office at 10:45. We got in his car. This is strange, I thought to myself. Why do we need to leave the building? Afterall, the mayor works in City Hall, too. He drove me around the building and stopped at the front entrance. I was still confused.
Then, the mayor's lovely secretary came to the car to meet me and said that she'd be translating my speech. Speech? It's best to just go with the flow. "Ok, great!" Maybe she means my talk with the mayor? Her English is by far the best I've heard from a Japanese person since I've been here.
I think I was driven to the front so I could make a grand entrance. Because as soon as I stepped into the lobby, I was greeted with tremendous applause. I looked around at all the people surrounding me, noticing the broad smiles plastered on their faces. I think every worker in the building came down to greet me. I was not expecting that many people! Is this what it's like in Hollywood? The mayor stepped out from the crowd, as did about six or so cameramen. Paparazzi? (Apparently my arrival in Kuji is big news that attracted all the local media.) Good grief, the only thing missing is the red carpet!
The mayor presented me with the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers I think I've ever received in my life. Then I was given the microphone. "Introduce yourself," I was told. The crowd hushed.
Through the translator, I said something like, "Thank you very much for the flowers. They are beautiful. My name is Dana Sease. I am from the state of Indiana in America. I went to school at Franklin College in Franklin, the sister city of Kuji. I am excited to be in Kuji to teach. I really like it here so far."
Enthusiastic clapping ensued from my "adoring fans." I couldn't help but smile real big. This is crazy. I was escorted up the stairs to the mayor's office. Important people were bowing to me. Gosh, I'm not only famous, I'm like a queen now! I bowed to them, too, as Yamadate told me to do.
I took a seat and was given a small box wrapped in beautiful paper. Oh wow. It was a beautiful brooch -- a flower made of amber. (Kuji is well-known for its amber.) Then I was given a longer box that contained a fan. I opened the fan and struck a pose for the cameras. Everyone in the room laughed, and I was called an American comedian.
My beautiful gifts: flowers, an amber brooch and a fan.
As I expected, the mayor asked me questions. Yamadate had prepared me for the type of questions to expect. I told him about my major in college, about how I don't play sports but I'll watch them, and about my family. The mayor got a big kick our of the fact that everyone in my family has a name that begins with the letter "D." That's funny. Yamadate laughed hysterically about the very same thing!
When I was dismissed, I went back to the Board of Education office (walking instead of riding this time) to get my gifts to hand out. I went to five different offices to present gifts individually. I gave the mayor a Franklin College picture frame, as well as the superintendent. The superintendent said, "From such a beautiful human!" Haha. Sometimes the attempts at speaking English make me inwardly chuckle. In Japanese, he said that we should get a picture taken together to put in the frame. I gave the other city officials very nice Franklin College keychains.
During the afternoon, Liz drove me around the area so I could find the schools where I'll be teaching next week. Kuji is very spread out, so it took almost the whole afternoon to find all the schools. I wish I had brought my camera for the drive! It was such a gorgeous day and we saw some amazing views. (I'll take pictures next week, on my way to the schools. I promise.) We had the windows down and music up while admiring the ocean and mountains. Life seemed perfect.
After "work" (I have to put the quotations around the word because I really didn't do any work at all) I went on a walk by the river and then went back to my apartment and cooked for the first time -- rosemary chicken (Callie left me rosemary, so I thought I'd better use it) steamed vegetables and bread with olive oil. I was proud of myself for fixing a satisfying dinner. I ended the wonderful day by watching a movie with Mayla and Liz in Liz's apartment.
So yesterday was definitely one of the best Mondays I've ever had. Ever. I don't expect every day to be that great, but it sure would be nice!!