Monday, September 13, 2010

Chapter Four: Niko's School

Niko goes to the American School in Japan.  It looks like a small private college and costs as much.  This school goes from kindergarten to high school.  It has its own indoor pool, tennis courts, a real football field with a goal post, and a playground with a climbing wall.  His PE class has swimming!  The food is really good, too. There is even a small kiosk that serves caffeine, as in latte, espresso, and cafe americano!!! No wonder Niko's favorite classes are in order:  PE, recess, and lunch.  Here is a view of the school.  Here is a shot of Niko's school and a picture of the kiosk menu that serves up those lattes and espressos to junior and senior high school students. My kind of school! Get them started early on the caffeine kick.  And the price is a bargain at 220 yen (reference point: Staba or Starbucks charges double that so i really do not mind attending those parental conference things now since i know that, at the very least, a good espresso awaits me).

Such enlightment! If only i had espresso access as a high school student.....

it looks corporate because it is...

Many of the kids at the school have parents working for major American corporations, often investment banks.  When you look closely, all the equipment is sponsored by fortune 500 companies with in-roads into Japan.  A father that i met works for Microsoft which funds 35 spots in the school.  Most of these kids' tuitions are part of the ex-pat perks and packages, and the bill for Niko's tuition asks first for the company to which the bill should be sent. That would be my checking account.  Mari, as a UN employee, did get an education allowance in NYC so more than half of Niko's tuition was covered by the UN, but that education grant is never given to Americans at the UN since it is their home country, and the expectation is that the child can get schooled in the public sector. Logically, in Japan, Mari's home country where both she and Niko have Japanese passports, the expectation is that he attend the local public school that is a five minute walk from our home, and no subsidy.  I guess that this is a prelude to the pain that parents feel when those college tuition payments are due.  Luckily, i can do this in 4 painful installments, as i do better with long chronic pain in small amounts (think marathon training).  You may wonder why Niko cannot do public school. Mainly, he would be too far behind in written Kanji. It could be done, but it would be so painful for him to catch up.  He is at second grade kanji level and he would need to learn of all second, third, and fourth grade kanji in one year, a tall order.  And, the reality is that he will return to the states. More important that he gets oral fluency and cultural immersion.  The American School does have japanese and he is in a native speaker class. Already he is much more fluent reading kana in manga, so this is great. 
Niko is on the swim team.  There is an "A" team and "B" team. He is on B-team which is good. The A-team has many more meets and practices, and the time commitment is onerous. Since we just arrived here, we would only opt for that B-team as the practices are only twice a week, and there are only 2 weekend meets. We went to a "practice meet" which meant getting up on Saturday at half past 6am.  I guess that Vermont parent with kids in hockey know all about this special weekend pain of losing a late sleep-in.  And, the meet lasted until 3pm, and you, as a parent, are given all kinds of things to do--timer, announcer, etc-- so you cannot exactly just try to sleep quietly in a corner.  Here are a few pictures:
Getting ready for the 50 meter backstroke.
Next race coming. Coach has advice.

and they are off...i mean, really, timers, and even a scoreboard. this is just fourth grade, i say. i was happy to play dodge ball on a blacktop and tetherball...the good old days.

Niko is in the center lane with a lead.  Some of these kids were really competitive. Niko just wanted to fool around, and there were kids of 6 and 7 who were crying most of the time.
it is official. 50 meters crawl in just under 48 seconds for Niko. 

Stay tuned for Chapter 5:  Yoyogi Koen (Park): The Daily Jog/Flog

1 comment:

  1. I want to hear no more comments about my indoctrinating Gabriel with pinball as you post all of these competitive swimming pictures!