This is a story that did not appear on my original blog, for reasons which will soon become apparent.
One of the teachers in Mishima NOVA was leaving to return to The US. When teachers leave, there is almost always a farewell party. There were signs up in the teacher’s room stating that the official farewell party was on Sunday November 14.
I was working the Saturday late shift with one of the experienced teachers, let’s call her Veronica. Veronica was a bit unusual because she was likely in her 50s, when most English teachers were in their early to mid 20s. She was easy enough to get along with, and therefore a fun person to be stuck on the Saturday late shift with.
Near the end of the shift, she asked if I was going to the farewell party after work. I pointed out the sign and asked if she meant after tomorrow’s shift. She explained that after work was the “unofficial” party that a few students might be attending.
One of the cardinal rules of NOVA is that teachers are not allowed to interact with students outside of the classroom. There are several reasons for this rule, but the main reason is to keep teachers from doing anything that would prevent students from wanting to buy more lessons. I don’t know if it was technically possible to get fired for meeting students outside of the classroom, but it was a great way to get a reprimand or not have your contract renewed.
Veronica told me not to worry because teachers and students in the area frequently hung out together, and it wasn’t a big deal as long as nobody openly talked about it in front of the supervisors. Since she was a more experienced teacher, I decided to stop worrying and agreed to go to the farewell party.
After work we left Mishima NOVA together and walked down the street towards one of the many izakayas in the area. The whole back room was reserved for the farewell party. I expected to see about 10 teachers and one or two students. When I got to the back, I found about 30 people in the room, with at least half of them being students from Mishima NOVA and some of the nearby branches.
Drinking pro tip: when you shop up late to a party, some people may feel the need to “catch up” to the level of drunkenness that everyone else is currently experiencing. Although a nice social gesture, this is a challenging thing to get right. It’s very easy to overshoot and end up finding yourself more drunk than the rest of the party in short order.
Since I am writing this 10 years later, and because I tried to “catch up”, I don’t remember all of the details of the evening. I do remember that it was a lot of fun, and it was great to interact with students outside of the classroom. I got to know some of the students better, and they got a chance to practice their English in a real world setting.
We all settled up the bill and left just before the last trains of the evening. Through the whole party, one of the female students was flirting with the departing teacher. On the group stumble back to Mishima station, she suggested that her apartment was too far, and maybe she would like to stay “somewhere” in Numazu. The departing teacher said “you can come back to my place, but we’re going to be f**king”.
Unsurprisingly, drunk English teachers are not known for their romantic skills.
Knowing that it would be an experience that both sides would have regretted the next day, some of the female teachers and other students made sure that the drunk flirty student got home safely. Azeroth and I enjoyed our long walk back to City Plaza together. It was a fun night, and the first of many nights out with students.
Note to readers: The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. I worked at a conversational English school, where most of my students were adults. If I ever write about one of my adventures hanging out with students, I am always referring to English students of legal drinking age.