This past summer I decided it was time to go on a vacation. When I finally decided Japan was the perfect place to visit I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else. I was lucky enough to have an American friend, Gavin, who lives in Japan and it allowed me to have a stable place to sleep while I experienced the culture of the surrounding areas. The apartment was in a great location that allowed me to go out in Osaka for a night of fun or take a short train ride to Nara or Kyoto. Visiting Daibutsu in Nara was an experience I will never forget. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into the temple and saw such and incredible piece of work. Hours could have gone by and I wouldn’t have even known. Kyoto offered an excitement and energy different than Nara’s. There were so many amazing temples and sights in one area I still had more to see after six hours of touring. I was really able to rely on the bus system in Kyoto. It is built in a way so you can take one bus past most of the temples. At only 500 yen for a one day pass, an entire day in Kyoto was very affordable.
While I was staying with Gavin I was able to visit the English school franchise he works for: Smith’s School of English. During my visit I experienced first hand the closeness between the teachers there and the students. In the 45 minute long sessions there was always time to catch up with the students and my friend, like all teachers there, would always make it a point to bring up something students mentioned during their last session. Each student would flash a smile when they realized he was really paying attention to what they had to say.
Between classes there were fifteen minutes breaks when the students could go out to the lobby and chat with each other and the other coaches. Even outside of the classroom, each student was eager to learn. They would ask questions about previous classes or even about something they saw in a movie. There was never a lull in the conversations and every student paid the same attention to Gavin as he paid to them.
Outside of the classroom I had some great experiences with Gavin and his students. He always would go out of his way to go to barbeques the students put on and show them how much he cared. Seeing how he was able to turn a traditionally strict student/teacher environment into a friendly one really changed my thoughts about coaching students in an English franchise. The experiences I had while visiting Japan are something I would not give up for the world. Gaining insight to another culture and how different life can be was something I will never forget. Nor will I forget seeing how personable a professional environment can be. Before my visit I thought a school that was large enough to be considered a franchise would not have the time to create that personal atmosphere with each student that walks in the door. In the end I saw how at ease Gavin and the other coaches at Smith’s made each person feel and how much confidence it gave them in return.