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Papua Japan Alaska

I always try too hard to make clever post titles, so I didn’t bother this time.  I also have an increasing tendency to write very long, deep posts every month or two rather than writing more frequent posts every few days.  It’s frustrating to not write for so long, but it’s also frustrating to write something that seems extraneous or forced.  I wrote two very short articles for the Saroma-Palmer Sister City Newsletter yesterday, very quickly because they were already weeks past the date I had promised them by.  They read like 5th grade book reports.  I’m not ashamed of them, but not as proud of them as I am of the writing on other parts of this blog.  I guess in the end, I mainly write for myself, and if I ever choose to become a writer as a profession, I’ll have to learn how to do it for others.  For example, last years post about my Papua New Guinea experience was written over several days, with a lot of editing and careful thought, but also with a lot of inspiration.  I browsed back to it on my iPhone on the way to Papua New Guinea a few weeks ago and was impressed with what I had written.  It took me back to that first experience and made me newly excited for the next.  Hopefully I can keep doing that.

Alaska car elementary Saroma

Newsletter Articles

George Carté, head of the Sister City Committee in Palmer and former AET, asked me to write a few short articles on recent events in Saroma for the newsletter that he puts out.  I obliged him, and while I’ve written better, here they are.

Final Classes at Saroma Elementary

In Japan the school year begins in April and ends in March.  Last month the 5th and 6th graders at Saroma Elementary wrapped up the year’s English activities with some fun projects.
The two 5th grade classes spent the last three English classes designing their own countries.


In groups of four, they chose their country name, designed the flag, and thought of the president, currency, economy, geography, food, and laws.  They used English as much as possible.  It was a very open ended activity, so it took some time to get started, but in the end I was very pleased with the range and depth of student creativity.  The imagined countries included Sports Land, Junior Kingdom, and Dog Island (pictured).  I’m looking forward to having these students in 6th grade!
The 6th grade class spent their last two lessons writing and performing English skits.  They used all of the English they’ve learned in elementary school and then some.  The skits were performed in groups of about six students, so each student had only one or two lines, but they spoke with confidence, presenting some very funny material.  Skit situations included a restaurant, convenience store, police station, and mortuary.  Just this week, these students entered Saroma Junior High as 1st graders (7th graders).  I hope I can help continue their enthusiasm for English in the coming school year.


Snowstorm in Saroma

Coming to live in Hokkaido after 20+ years living in Palmer, I did not expect to be surprised by the winters here.  But the weekend of February 21st exceeded my expectations.  I awoke on Saturday morning to three feet of new snow plastered across my front door, and a seven foot high drift wrapping around the back of the house.


My car was similarly covered, although a kind neighbor used his front-end loader to clear me out.  I had planned to drive to Abashiri City that Saturday, but a quick check on the Hokkaido road office website showed a “road closed” X on nearly every major highway in the area.  So I stayed home and shoveled.  In the afternoon, the sun came out.  I braved the remaining wind and piled drifts to take a walk down the river levee toward the butter factory and back through town.  Everyone in town was outside, clearing off cars, driveways and roofs.  Those with snowblowers and loaders were helping out their neighbors, eager to get some use out of their expensive toys.  I’m glad the weather intervened that day.  Walking around Saroma on that sunny, white afternoon I felt the sense of community in this small town.  And I now have nothing to brag about concerning snowy winters.