So after all the movement of teachers and students during the end of March and the start of April it’s finally gotten a bit more settled at school with only the final welcome enkai later today remaining before the new school year starts in full earnest with the official opening ceremony.
Not a moment too soon either! My wallet has taken a beating over the last week or so with an almost never-ending stream of 送別会 (farewell parties) to say goodbye to the teachers moving on to greener pastures as well as 歓迎会 (welcome parties) to welcome in the new teachers.
Each of these parties is pretty much a formal occasion with speeches for each of the teachers. At the farewell parties the school headmaster makes a short speech for each teacher who is leaving and mentions how long they’ve been at the school and where they’re being transferred to as well as some funny comments. Each of the teachers will also give a speech, and usually it’s also done in a light-hearted manner. Afterwards one of the other teachers from their department goes over and hands them a bunch of flowers and maybe does a small speech as well. Usually the entire ceremony can go on for close to three hours since it’s interspersed with breaks for food and chatting and the usual enkai traditions of opening speeches and the banzai at the end of the ceremony.
It’s a petty sad occasion though as it’s the last official occasion the teachers will be involved in before they move to their new cities and schools. There’ll be a lot of tears as everyone says goodbye. In some cases teachers may have worked together for the better part of a decade, so it can sometimes be a bit disheartening to have to say goodbye to those teachers you’ve become close to and accustomed to seeing every day.
Next up are the welcome parties for the new teachers. Like the farewell parties there are the more formal occasions where all the teachers gather together and the school staff as a whole greets them and then there are also the smaller get togethers with the separate departments where it’s a more casual atmosphere and pretty relaxed. At the formal gathering each department takes it in turn to introduce each of themselves to the new teachers with a short introduction speech.
It’s going to feel great to get back in the swing of teaching classes again after a protracted break for the new academic year. The new students will be starting their high school lives and the school halls will be filled with the sound of students laughing and joking with each other.
What’s with the mention of fish in the title you ask? Well our staff welcome party saw myself and my JTEs eating fish that was grilled alive over hot coals. Not the most pleasant of experiences!