Back To School
Yesterday we got a slow start to the day and made our way out to the American School in Japan for New Family Orientation. Our apartment is located in between a lot of train lines so there are a lot of options for getting places. We narrowed it down to two ways to get to ASIJ and on the way out we tried one route and a different one on the way back. There was a lot of discussion around this and we sort of liked the route we picked in the morning because it seemed like it would be easier/quicker. There is only one transfer and then only one stop after the transfer. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and after going that route it was not a favorite any longer. The transfer requires a 5 minute walk between stations, which seems OK, but when I think about some of my mad dashes to get to school on time it would not have worked out very well.
We arrived exactly on time for the orientation meeting and the parents were all routed to one room and the kids went to different rooms, sorted by grade, to hang out in awkward silence with all the other new kids.
As we entered the meeting and people saw our name tags we got several comments on being the “alumni parents.”
Oh, the Donnelly’s – you guys are the alumni couple right?
The meeting was about one-third information, one-third propaganda, and one-third everyone introducing themselves. We started out going through the entire room with each parent stating their name, what grade their children will be in, and where they lived last (with this type of crowd asking “Where are you from?” can have a long, winding answer). It was a very diverse crowd with five of the seven continents represented. We ended up being the last parents to stand up and introduce ourselves and we got some interesting looks when Kira shared that we had both graduated from ASIJ. It was a pretty smart way to kick off the meeting because it fed into the Headmaster’s pitch on global communities and creating responsible world citizens.
Next we ate a free lunch in the cafeteria (plus or minus two high school tuitions). It was a chicken-katsu cutlet and Kira remembered eating the same thing when she attended. I always brought a lunch from home so there was no nostalgia there for me. I looked for Goo-Goo Clusters, but I couldn’t find the ice cream vending machine. Maybe they moved it or maybe ice cream is no longer considered a healthy lunch.
Our tablemates at lunch consisted of a US State Department employee and her 10th grade son as well as a young woman who works for ASIJ and coincidentally gave us a tour of the school two years ago when we were here one vacation. I think that tour helped dampen some of the nostalgia for us today so that we didn’t spend the ENTIRE time saying things like, “Oh remember when…” and “When I went here…”
Next we met with the student councilors. First up was Sarah who had the simple task of deciding the entire rest of her life in about 30 minutes. Her councilor was quite garrulous so really she had about 15 minutes to decide if she wanted to take AP Biology or AP Physics. It was important because if she doesn’t take AP Physics this year she won’t be able to get into a good engineering school and she can just forget about that as a career, but if she wants to be a doctor this is her last chance to take AP Biology. No pressure, but we’ll need an answer in the next five minutes.
She went with AP Chemistry.
She was much more enthusiastic about the Glass 1 Art elective and the Mythology class she’ll be taking in the spring.
Michael’s options were much more limited. He got to pick one elective and the rest was already decided by his status as an incoming Freshman.
They both have to go back in a week or so to see what Math class they test into.
So far the ASIJ experience has been very much MORE than their old school. There are more students, there are more courses to choose from, there is more space in the building, there are more books in the library, there will be more homework, and they will spend more time traveling to school.
After Sarah set the course of her life and Michael picked Choir for his elective we raced back to the station to beat the incoming rain. We made it just in time and went the less complicated route back home. It was the clear winner based on our single data point for each route.
Our evening consisted of a little down time, a trip into Shibuya for some world class Ramen, an hour and a half conversation on how to sort trash (more on that later), and another action packed chapter of the Throne of Jade.