As an English teacher at Smith’s School of English I have a terrific amount of time off every year. Counting, Sundays, Public Holidays and the traditional big three Japanese Holidays, “Golden Week”, “Obon” and “Oshiogatsu”, Smith’s head office and all Smith’s English schools will close down for 85 days in 2010. Sure we have to work Saturdays and yes it is true we often do not get home until late at night after our last lesson at 9:45 P.M. but we have the mornings off to compensate that small deficit. I like to use my free time mornings and my days off from English coaching to be with my family or to be outside participating in sport.
These days I teach at Smith’s School of English Kyobashi (スミス英会話京橋) and Smith’s School of English Fukushima (スミス英会話福島). However over the years I have had other more standard jobs and I can promise you none of them offer me the amount of time with my family that being an English teacher in Japan does.
I get to take my daughter to school and wave hello to all the other house wives. Not another Papa to be seen. I always feel sorry for those other fathers and think “thanks” to my work as an English teacher I have this opportunity to be with my daughter. I am an active member of the school PTA and volunteer at my daughter’s and other local schools as a swimming coach. I mainly work as the “drown proofing” coach for kindergarten children. Of course the description “drown proofing” is misleading, we can not actually drown proof any human but it is catchy name and we do work hard to make the kids water safe. My work as swimming coach is to help begin with a small child who is afraid of water, will not even splash pool water on their face, and take them to the point where they can confidently dive under the water and grab a toy down under at one meter, use a Personal Flotation Device, offer another person in trouble some help…. “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go”, float on their backs unassisted and roll over from a face float to back star float, all to protect their own life. I love this volunteer swimming work with not only my own child but all the kids I work with and know I would never be able to join these kids if I had a normal job.
When I am not at work and not with my family you will almost invariably find me at some kind of sports. In particular I love sailing, scuba diving, free diving, water skiing, rafting and mountain walking. You will note that so far I am not airborne! I have often made mention of my sailing adventures and you can even see a couple of them on video over at YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM9i4HmIKmY OR http://www.youtube.com/user/marksmithjapan#p/u/16/h3Aylaswus OR http://www.youtube.com/user/marksmithjapan#p/u/23/Qzx00WDNZss and whilst my wife doesn’t enjoy Yacht Racing with me we do a lot of scuba diving together. My wife also works at Smith’s School of English so we always share the same holiday dates. Whenever I have time off from English teaching you will often find the both of us out any one of the hundreds of terrific dive locations around or close to Japan. Okinawa, Ishigaki, Guam, Saipan, are just a some of the spots we like to get out to and know we can to cheaply and quickly.
Now when you think about diving you need to think about safety and a large part of safety is maintenance. I always service my essential scuba equipment every year. I use a dive service center in Hyogo and I have to say when it comes to dive engineering and service I think this guy is just amazing. He doesn’t just give the gear a quick wash and check. He takes every bit apart, photographs any trouble spots no matter how slight and then repairs, cleans and reassembles. Thanks to this Extreme Japanese service at “Marine Basket” I know for certain every-time my wife and I submerge our equipment will work.