Almost Passed Out…

Almost Passed Out…

It was day two of my menstrual cycle and I set out to have a great day at work. It was a Wednesday and I had one of my favourite and most genki and fun junior high school grade 1 classes. There were no classes scheduled after lunch because rehearsals for the farewell ceremony would take place with the 1st and 2nd graders and I planned to be there in the gym. I went with another teacher to watch the proceedings. It was all going well as we stood and watched the students fall into place and try to remember their lines. Another teacher was to my right and we chatted briefly but mostly focused on the rehearsals.

About 30 mins or so into the rehearsals, I suddenly started to feel nauseous, then light-headed. I tried to take a few quick deep breaths to see if the feeling would pass, but it didn’t. By the time I realised what was about to happen, I turned to my left to the teacher I came in with and whispered, “I don’t feel well”, as my eyes closed and my head fell down. I somehow found my arms around the necks of the two teachers between whom I had stood. I was helped outside of the gym and put to sit down. I could hardly keep myself up right as I felt the most horrible feelings within me since being in Japan.

Increased menstrual cramps in my stomach returned as though it was day one of my period and not day too. I began to hear a lot of Japanese all around me and then some English. I heard I was sweating in the cold air and reached my head to my forehead to wipe it away. I tried to answer the questions that came as the nurse tried to check my pulse… it was too low to be felt. I felt, after a few minutes the blood returning to my face and I heard someone say wheelchair, to which I rebutted. I motioned I was ready to take the five minute journey to the nurse’s room.

I was still feeling cold and listless when I got to the nurse’s room. My temperature which had been checked before and registered normal, was checked again. My temperature was still about the normal range also, however my pulse still could not be read, this time by the machine place around my wrist and positioned about my heart. I was helped into bed and warm yutampo’s provided for my cold toes and hands. Instructions were given to rest for about 30 minutes after which I would be taken to the train station to go home early. Before I could start to rest however another teacher came. He said he’d take me home after work finished at 3:45pm to which I agreed. No sooner had I prepared to close my eyes than the vice principal came in. He said somethings all in Japanese. Fortunately I understood what he said.

I was in the nurses quarters from about 2pm. By 3 p.m. I was ready to get out of the bed. A volunteer teacher had agreed to stay behind in case I needed anything. I alighted from bed taking with me the to you temples and makeshift puke box provided to me by the nurse. Before I could make my exit my temperature was checked again and this time my blood pressure was read by the machine. Everything was normal. The nurse checked my pulse again using her watch and all was well. Everyone asked how I was doing and expressed great concern. I felt almost normal for the rest of the time at work, except for my stomach which felt uncomfortable from the day’s lunch. I managed to get some work done and as I prepared to leave well wishes were extended to me. I was taken home by the teacher as promised and went almost immediately to bed where I slept.

The following day some teachers were surprised to see me back at work and everyone wanted to know if I was okay, especially the principal who was always happy to see me. The rehearsals that had taken place on Wednesday, were with the first and second graders, for the third graders, who would be graduating soon. On Friday, I went to have lunch with a second grade class. As I prepared to sit at the appointed desk, one student tried communicate with me through gestures and a few English almost frantically, in her attempt to ask if I was OK following apparent fainting spell. I was so moved at her attempt to express concern for me and to confirm if I was okay. I didn’t know how much the students had seen and I was quite concerned about my display in their presence. Another student who speaks more English also asked if I was okay and I was greatly appreciative of their kind words.

I didn’t go to the doctor, as I supposed it to be a drop in my blood count from my period and recent poor eating. Some teachers asked if the situation was happening for the first time to which I responded, “Yes in Japan”. I cannot begin to thank the teachers and supporters who were there for me during that. I confess however, I was filled with great fear when I felt myself slipping from consciousness. It wasn’t a fear of death, but a mix of maybe concern for the impact on the students who may have seen and pride for being sick in the gym at such a time. A lot of fear still exists even now to go to the doctors since I refuse typical drugs and cannot speak sufficient Japanese. It’s good to know that kindness was extended to me but I think its full time I get a full check up at the doctors.

Wrong Place Right Time: Arthur Richards & the Unplanned Date

Wrong Place Right Time: Arthur Richards & the Unplanned Date

It was 12:15 in the afternoon and the sermon, beautiful as it was, didn’t quite seem to be ending. I wanted to stay for the entire service, but also wanted to keep the commitment I’d made. I needed to leave church by 12:20 to catch the train to take me to Owari-Seto station, where I would make the 15 minute walk to the Culture Centre. Today was the day for the speech competition for foreigners to present in Japanese. I was quite excited to view this even though I don’t understand much Japanese.

At 12:27 I dashed through the elevator doors and made my way outside toward the direction of the train station. I would certainly miss the early train I had planned to catch, but still walked at a fast pace anyway. I caught the train after the earlier one and through some intentional running, caught the transfer train and made it quite early to the Culture Centre. I was so happy for that.

As I entered the lobby area, I was greeted by a student and received the program for the afternoon session. I thanked him and made my way inside where I took an end seat at the back. I opened the program and began to peruse it. Of course it was all in Japanese but I could read some of the Kana. I observed that there was no mention of a speech contest. As a matter of fact it was all about music. I realised I was at the wrong place and decided to leave after the fourth performance even though I was really enjoying the brass instrumental deliveries.

How could I have made such a mistake? But, it was quite easy to make that mistake since the flyer I’d received was in Japanese and I didn’t think to confirm the location of the competition. I assumed all speech contests as with everything else held in Seto, took place at the Bunka Senta (Cultural Centre). Today I learnt, that was not so at all. I sent a message to one of my Japanese teachers as I tried to think where else the competition could be held. I didn’t get a response soon thereafter I made my way towards the station, slowly inching my way as I made contact with a friend who lived nearby, to find out if she was home and up for afternoon tea. By the time she confirmed she was not at home, I had passed the steps leading up the hill to her community. So it was time to pick up the pace and make my way home.

It was a cold, but sunny day on which I had gambled and worn a lighter coat. I needed to move faster so I could get warm quickly. What happened next, took place so quickly and completely took me by surprise that I can’t quite remember the exact occurrences. I think I observed a frantic wave of sorts, heard a horn toot and some words uttered from a beaming black face. Before I knew what was happening the grey van was reversing on the main thoroughfare, with vehicles coming up the hill. My first thoughts were this guy is crazy. I stopped walking and continued to look at the oncoming traffic as if by doing this I would be able to prevent any kind of accident that could result.

“Hi sister.” said the smiling face. “Where are you from?” Upon hearing I was Jamaican, the smiling face sought to outshine the glaring afternoon sun. He indicated he would pull off the road to safety so we could have better introductions. He expressed how excited and surprised he was to not only see a sister, but also a fellow Jamaican in the rural parts of Seto. He offered to take me home after a few minutes of chatting and I said sure.

He shared wonderful and not so wonderful stories of his childhood in Jamaica and it was such a pleasure hearing his excitement and passion as he spoke. The journey to my home seemed insufficient for discourse and so we chatted a while longer in the vehicle. By this time though, I was quite starved after having had only an apple before church that morning, so I asked to be taken to the supermarket which is where I had originally planned to go had I taken the train home. He was shocked as he asked if I was going to be eating food from the supermarket. But I assured him I intended to get items for cooking instead.

I think he said, when he returned to Japan we should meet up and go eat somewhere. And then as though something spurred him inside, he asked without a moments notice, if I’d like to go get something to eat now. My not too spontaneous and quite starved brain hadn’t much time to think, so I agreed.

About an hour later we partook of a lovely meal and chatted some more. He was so passionate about everything he spoke about and seemed eager to share his wisdom. I explained to him how I came to be at that location in Seto at that time and he explained to me also that he did not usually drive on that route. We laughed and beamed together as he expressed again that God has a warped sense of humour.

It was a beautiful end to an unplanned evening.

Not Your Typical Black in Japan

Not Your Typical Black in Japan

I have been in Japan for just about 1 year and 9 months. WOW! Time is flying but it is not all fun, that’s for sure. I have heard of many unfortunate and not too pleasant experiences (racism, cultural differences etc.) had by some blacks in Japan and I can say, thanks be to God I haven’t had such experiences. Then again, it could be because I’ve spent most of my time here in the more rural areas of Japan. I don’t know. I’m now in a more city area, but it’s only been a short time since my move so that doesn’t say much either. But then I wonder, if it is because I don’t go out much or my place choices do not initiate negative vibes and reactions. Could it possibly be that I have been too blind to see the negative or maybe it’s because I choose to see the best in everyone?

Whatever the circumstance, I’m thankful the experience or non-negative experience, if that makes sense. Perchance I have had a bad one in Japan, I’m all too happy I have forgotten it. I choose to see every experience as a learning opportunity.

Working as an ALT in Junior High Schools (JHS)

Working as an ALT in Junior High Schools (JHS)

Working in junior high schools as an ALT for me is a mixture of likes, dislikes, hates and despises. A total emotional roller-coaster in one day and on other days I’m just too bored to react at all.

I want to change from JHS to maybe senior high school (SHS) to get experience at that level or even full-time into an Eikaiwa with a focus on teaching adults, but none are really compelling. On the one hand, JHS engages and challenges me at times (not necessarily intellectually but definitely psychologically) to develop new coping skills. But then there are those other times when sleep is all that beckons to me.



The Familiar Tick

The Familiar Tick

I’ve been living in Japan since March 21, 2016. It’s now November 27, 2017. Well, I wouldn’t call what I’ve been doing living since I staggered through the culture shock, barely survived the country life and moved 3 times in the space of 5 months. If you know me, you know that’s unheard of. But it happened.

Finally now I’m in a space God chose and even though it’s been almost a month in this space, everyday I smile and tell God thanks for His wonderful choice. So happy am I that I finally decided to buy my first clock after 1 year and 8 months. And as it ticks, I smile in nodding approval of the sound of home.

Thank you Father…