Sunday, June 10, 2007

Best kids ever

These are my favourite students in the whole school. They’re the stars of the track team and just about the happiest kids around.

I took this picture yesterday after the prefectural track and field championships. Our school placed first, which isn’t surprising considering these kids train every day, twice a day.

The whole day was amazing. In fact, it was probably one of the best days I’ve had here so far. I didn’t even mind waking up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning to catch the rented coach bus that took us out to the sports park.

The kids had asked me to come with them since I’m an honorary member of the track team (I run with them once a week after school). So I spent the day watching their races and cheering them on until my voice was hoarse.

I was so touched by how excited they were to have me there. They wanted to make sure that I saw each of their races. After the 100-metre sprint, one boy came running up to me with wild hope written all over his face and said, “Did you see me? Did you see me?”

I felt like a proud parent bursting with happiness.

In between events, they practiced their hilariously bad English on me and just acted like the happy, dorky kids they are.

It’s funny because I came to Japan for an adventure and a break from my “real” life. I didn’t have any passion to be a teacher. It was just a way to pay for a yearlong vacation. But being surrounded by these kids all day has turned out to be the most rewarding part of my time here. I’ve been blown away by the amount of joy they’ve brought into my life. I just want to adopt the whole lot of them.

Seriously. Could these girls be any cuter?

After the day was over and the trophies were handed out, the students formed a circle around the coach. I was standing off to the side taking pictures when they waved me over to join them.

They asked me to make a speech. So I told them how amazing they were and how much fun I had watching their races. And then I told them I loved them. They smiled and clapped and laughed and I knew that they loved me a little bit too.

My heart is breaking at the thought of leaving them in two months. Saying goodbye to these kids is going to hurt so much. I am sick with regret right now for not signing on for a second year.

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