After spending a week teaching in Tokyo, I was assigned to go to Fukui for a week.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of the small coastal city of Fukui in Japan. I was surprised to find out that it was a city that prided itself on its collection of dinosaur fossils and the scenic nature.
Moving from the venue of Tokyo to Fukui was a bit of an adjustment at first. It was bizarre going from a city where almost anything was accessible at any hour to a small town where all establishments closed around 8 in the evening. For many of the students at the small school, the interns were some of the first foreigners that they’ve ever interacted with. The students were extremely shy, and the interns stationed there worried about whether or not we’d be able to get them out of their shell and comfortable enough to actively engage in the program.
Fukui is currently suffering from a brain drain, as the young population flocks to larger cities for better university education and job opportunities. This is why instead of the Tokyo Olympics module, the Fukui location had asked us to talk about regional revitilization. I was surprised to see that many students seemed extremely eager to leave their lives behind for better opportunities in some of the larger cities.
Surprisingly, as the week progressed – the students completely transformed into confident, funny, and loud personalities. I had my doubts about how much progress we’d be able to see during a span of 5 days, but I was so happy to find myself engaging in deep conversation with my students and helping them practice their English speaking skills.
We celebrated the end of the program with a surprise dinner that the students and staff had treated us out to. They had decided to take the 5 interns there out to dinner, and took turns giving speeches about the program. It was so rewarding seeing all the students standing up and expressing how they felt – something they wouldn’t have dared to do a few days ago.
My week teaching in Fukui was definitely a memorable one. The students were wonderful and I grew to appreciate the quaint town. I found myself dreading the following weeks back in the heart of Tokyo.
After teaching in Fukui during the weekdays, we were given Saturday to explore. A couple interns and I went to the Tōjinbō cliffs. The rock formations overlooking the water were absolutely breathtaking. After exploring the cliffs, visitors could find fresh seafood (crab is Fukui’s specialty) nearby.
We were able to end our last night in Fukui in the best way possible – by taking a quick swim in the Sea of Japan. The relaxing swim in the warm water was the perfect way to cap off our week in the city before leaving back to Tokyo.