The other volunteer event I participate in regularly is called (for some unknown reason) English Arcade. I was definitely disappointed by the lack of video games involved the first time I volunteered. The two hour long English conversation session can often be pretty difficult for me to get through due to the lack of general genki-ness from participants (read: energy and active participation), but I knew they appreciated it when I was able to attend. An important condition of my attendance was always that I was not going to be leading the sessions. I was there as background support, not as a teacher.
Still, I of course ended up in that role more often than not. The participants have an interesting and diverse set of backgrounds. A handful are retired engineers from Asahi Kasei, a chemical engineering company. Others are students or teachers or just people who have traveled in their lives and don’t want to lose the English skills they’ve gained.
For my farewell party with this group we went to the house of one of the members for lunch. Normally, that would have been (incredibly kind but) not a huge goodbye, but this woman’s home is actually a historical landmark. Her (I think) father-in-law invented a new type of tuna fishing net in 1895 (according to the website) and made a lot money. He invested heavily in developing the surrounding town and built a big and beautiful home. The family still lives on the land, but recently finished building a more modern home next to the historic one. The old home has been converted into a restaurant and small museum.
The English Arcade’s daughter (maybe daughter-in-law? Not super clear on that point) gave us a tour of the museum area and then served us lunch in the restaurant. The food was very traditionally Japanese. I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t name half of what I ate. I do know that it was good.
I was completely stuffed by the end of lunch and rolled back to the car where one of the members gave me a ride home, saving me from trainride.