Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Year in Review

It's been a pretty interesting year with a cat-and-dog Democratic primary with Hilary and Barack, the ultimate election of Obama, $4 gasoline that fell to under $2 in the blink of an eye, and an economic disaster brought on by deregulators like McCain (economy is fundamentally sound) and his economic adviser Phil Gramm (nation of whiners). I'm not sure I could have guessed in January that we'd be where we are right now. It's been a pretty crazy year.

In comparison, my year has been pretty mundane, just busy.

  • During the spring semester, besides the four courses I taught, I judged haiku written by K-12 students for Mid Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese (MAATJ). This sounds pretty hard--most of my colleagues would never even touch something like this. But I find it invigorating that there is such interest in young students in the DC area. I hope they come to study at my school when they graduate.
  • At the end of the spring semester, I gave a lecture at the Foreign Service Institute--a branch of the State Department--on Japanese literature. Mostly its to provide cultural background for those going to Japan, so I positioned the lecture as a lesson on Context and Intertext. That is, how text in Japanese literary history is used intentionally to influence each other over the centuries.
  • In Fall, I taught my usual four courses again. I was also the keynote speaker at the MAATJ group at the Foreign Language Association of Virginia held in Richmond, VA. I talked about haiku and how to incorporate it into class. Perhaps more significant was the reassignment of a colleague of mine. Finding a replacement was not so hard as both she and I were planning to take successive sabbaticals this academic year and we already had someone lined up to replace us both. What I wasn't prepared for was the workload of program coordinator. Usually, a coordinator teaches two classes, but I did not get any course release and taught my normal load. I would have at least appreciated a bonus, but as it turned out, all I got was a pat on the back for university "service."

Amazingly, with all this work, I still had time for J-Drama. My students laugh, convinced that I must not be that busy. It's probably the only thing that kept me from going crazy. I allowed myself the luxury of totally escaping work for a few hours a week, thereby preventing a mental breakdown. We gotta do what we gotta do, y'know?

The saddest thing for me this years was the totally inept UCLA football team. *sigh* Will I ever live to see them win a National Championship? Go Bruins! (please?)

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