I have heard good things and bad things about getting involved with club activities while here. The good are that the students get more comfortable around you, and are more willing to try to use English with you. One bad thing being that they can be a huge time commitment. Another negative thing I have not heard, but predict, is that it is one more thing that separates me from the other teachers. I am very young compared to many of the teachers, I am clueless as to what’s going on a good portion of the time, and when other teachers are involved in the clubs it is as a supervisor or coach where as I am a participant.
Needless to say I wanted to give it a try since most of what I had heard was positive. Now, I have visited two clubs. At my base school I went to a girl’s soccer club practice. At my visit school I went to the co-ed gymnastics practice (They have a trampoline, I got more excited than a 10 year old counting their candy Halloween night). I noticed the benefit of the students trying to use English with me instantly. Especially at the soccer practice where the larger number of students may have been an advantage, as a few of them liked to confer with one another about what to say before approaching me. The downside was not what I predicted, but I should have. Someone who has been referring to 20-30 minutes of jogging as a good workout for the last year is likely unprepared for 3 hour long practices, in the Japanese heat, with students who do it everyday. Turns out I am slow and out of shape (duh). I quickly got very sweaty, sore, and sunburned. I may even have pulled a muscle though I won’t be able to confirm or deny this until tomorrow. The other half the equation is that in summer clubs happen during the day rather than at the end of it. It is decidedly unpleasant to change into business clothes after exercising. It also was probably rather unpleasant for any teachers near me as practice ended at noon, and I spent the whole afternoon gross.
Even so, I am really glad that I went and hope to visit a variety of clubs during my time here. (Though I may try to get away with cheering instead of playing some of the time)