Getting Involved: School Life
- Individual Sports
- If you are new to the sport, ask if you can participate in the warm-up. If you do this, remember to say thank you to your students in a big voice when you leave mid-way through their practice. This will help the understand the level to which you intend to be involved and will help you avoid hurt feelings due to confusion.
- If you are good at the sport, ask if you can participate in the warm-up. Then slowly take part in more and more of the practice as time goes by. The students will really appreciate your effort, but at first they won't know quite how to act around you. Remember to go slowly and try to develop friendships with each member of the team. Also, always remember to thank your students as a group when you leave mid-way through the practice.
- If you have experience coaching a sport and are willing to take on the responsibility of being a coach. You can work your way up to that level by participating in the club activity for several months. This way the students will see that you actually have something that you can teach them (for that matter, you will find out if you have something you can teach them, too). Also, it will give you a chance to learn a lot about all of your students before you try to coach them. Do not try to get involved with coaching a sport lightly. If the students accept you as their coach, they will expect that you give an extraordinary amount of your time and energy to them. If you let them down in this, you can do serious damage to your relationship with your school. If you don't want to give that much of your time and energy to the club, be clear about your intentions. Explain that you want to spend more time with the students and ask if you can participate in the practices.
- Team Sports
- Team sports are more difficult to participate in because, in addition to working on individual skills, the students must also learn how to work as a team. The cultural differences and the language barrier can wreak havoc on this second effort and can lead to bad feelings. Sometimes, there will be warm-ups you can participate in. If you are good at the sport, there will be times when you can get involved, but the easiest role by far is simply to be a fan. Watch baseball practice from the bleachers sometimes and get involved to the extent that you can from that point.
- In terms of coaching a team sport, the same advice applies from the "Individual Sports" section, be careful what you promise. Don't promise anything you can't make good on. Remember that the demands of living in a foreign culture can make large and continuous commitments of your time difficult or even impossible. Even if you do wish to coach a sport, start slowly. Allow yourself one year of participation to feel out what you are able and aren't able to do before asking to assume coaching duties.
- Brass Band
- If you are musically inclined, it can be a lot of fun to play along with the students. Consider carefully what kind of role you take on though. Practicing a quintet is a much smaller commitment than joining the band proper. If you practice for a specific goal then you will know the start and finish dates of your commitment. By contrast, joining the band itself, is an open-ended commitment and you will need to take care to communicate clearly the level to which you wish to be involved.
- Don't worry if you don't have your own instrument with you. Usually your schools will have at least a few of each, although they may not be of the greatest quality.
- If you just want to support from the sidelines, talking to the brass band teacher about the concert schedule can be a great way to support the brass band. If you attend a concert, make sure you announce your intentions beforehand. If you don't, your students might lose you in the audience, or because they don't understand why you are there, they may be too shy to talk to you. The best way to announce that you will come to a concert is to attend brass band practice during the week before your student's concert and have the brass band teacher explain that you will be coming to cheer.
- Other Clubs
- There are a variety of clubs available in addition to the basic sports and brass band. These various clubs differ at each school, but include science club, art club, tea ceremony club, flower arrangement club, etc. These clubs often allow their participants more freedom and participating in these clubs can be a really wonderful way to get involved.
- English Club - Some schools have English Clubs and some do not. If your school has an English club, it can be a wonderful chance to become more involved with your school. If you school doesn't have an English club, it might be difficult to create one. It never hurts to ask, but if creating an English club presents too many obstacles, consider getting involved in one of the other clubs instead.