At my base school, there is an ESS club. ESS stands for English Speaking Social Club. Not every Japanese High school has such a club. It is mostly the high academic or high school that have a strong focus on English that have time. It is typically a group of high school students who come together after school in their own time and they use it as an opportunity to speak in English or do activities such as games in English. Depending on the school, a teacher would supervise or participate as well. In the case of my school’s ESS club, there are only females students in the club and about 16 members in the club. These students are very independent and self-manage themselves, so they do not require any supervision by teachers.
During the afternoon of the first Monday of the new semester, A and I were invited to a party by the ESS club. The purpose of this party was to welcome us both to the school and becoming their new ALTs.
The students went to great lengths to making this party fun. When we arrived at the ESS club room, it was very nicely decorated and they even had snacks organised for us. It was absolutely the most adorable thing ever and very kind of them to go through so much effort to welcome us. The club organised games, where A and I were put on separate teams along with some students. We played pictionary and my team won – who would of thought 🙂 The students also danced and sang for us a traditional Japanese fishermen dance. They even gave me a card each with drawn pictures of themselves in the card. It was very sweet of them.
We also had time to talk with each of the students. I came to realise that most of the girls live about one or one and a half hours away from school. A and I were really surprised that they organised something like this for us as it would result to them going home later than usual. It is crazy to know how late these students stay at school due to club activities and band practice. Japanese students have earned my full respect due to the level of commitment they put into studying and doing school activities. I don’t think I could of ever survived my high school life with such a schedule.
Currently, the ESS club members are writing a play based on Hansel and Gretel with their own spin on it. A and I have been helping them with their English and pronunciation for the play. I have been informed that they will be performing this play as part of a competition. Apparently, over the past 10 years, my school has been the top winner of the competition. The prize of the performance is a huge cup trophy. I really look forward to seeing their play, if there is a chance, and surely hope that they win this year!!