My friend Michael Wittman

Hello everyone,

This is one of my favorite times of year. The weather is cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon. I hope you enjoy it though, because the days are getting shorter and shorter.

One thing I did during mid-term tests was organize and clean up my desk. Included in that was cleaning up files on my computer. When I was cleaning up my computer, I found some old pictures of a friend and I.

His name was Michael Wittman, and he joined my class when I was an elementary school student. He has cerebral palsy, and so he can not speak and has a difficult time controlling his body. In class he used his eyes to communicate left and no, and used an alphabet board to spell out words to communicate. However, there was nothing wrong with his mind. He was very smart.

At first the kids in my class didn’t know what to do with him. It was difficult to communicate and we didnt understand that behind the body was a normal kid. However, after some time with him and his helper, we understood that Michael was a really funny kid! He also won top prize for math the first year he was at my school.

Over time I got to know him, and we became friends. He lived near my grandparents house, and I often went to his house to play. I even spent the night there. One memory is me pushing his wheelchair across the road running as fast as I can, and Michael having a huge smile on his face. I am sure his parents were nervous, but also happy at the same time.

Over time I moved away to a new town and we lost touch. However, I have never forgotten Michael. I searched his name online and found that he became involved in making music, and also in making technology to help other people with communication barriers.

We are all together at Shin-ai for this part of your life, and afterwards you will scatter into the world. However, the friends, experiences, and memories you make here will stick with you forever. Be the best person you can be here, and create those memories for others.

Below is an article about him (with pictures of me as a kid!). It is a little difficult, but challenge it! Let me know if you read it and if you have any questions. See you next week,


Junior High School Life to High School Life

Hello everyone,

Did you enjoy your sports day? I enjoyed cycling in Shimanamikaido again this year. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great, but it is one of the most beautiful places in Japan.

Before exams, I asked my H1A students to write about the differences between their junior high school lives and high school lives. They did a really good job, and here are three examples:

Also, I began to do SGH this year. There are seven people in my group, but I didn’t know all the girls. I aquired the courage to speak my opinion through SGH because I had many chances to talk with new people. From now on I want to continue no only studying all the subjects, but also doing volunteer activities.

Of course, studying academics is important. But school is also a place to practice skills you will need in the future. Working in a group, being a leader, sharing your opinions, these are all things you will need in society. It is important to practice these skills now.

Also, I belong to GAC. I want to challenge new things and be internationally-minded. I made a handbill for an event with my senior. I had a sense of fulfillment.

The GAC club raises money for a school in Cambodia every year, and at Christmas travels there to learn more about the country and people. I hope you have a great time!

First, I think the difference between junior high school and high school is the importance of classes. The reason was that I was happy when I was sick in my junior high school days so I could be absent from school. But I am schocked to be late for classes now. So I think that I have to do my best every day.

In junior high school, your school life seems endless. However, once you enter high school, you realize that time passes very quickly. In life there are many things you can repeat. You can go to many universities, you can have many jobs, you can join many clubs and make many new friends. However, one thing you can never do again is be a high school student. So, I hope you enjoy your busy high school life. Make it full of friends and learning and memories. Live it with no regrets.

See you next week,


To get rusty

Hello everyone!

The rain is back and another typhoon is set to ruin another weekend. Hopefully this one tracks between Korea and Japan and doesn’t do too much damage. I am a little disappointed however, because every year I take a cycling trip on this weekend. I usually go down to Hiroshima and cycle the “Shimanamikaido”.

This summer was so hot I didn’t have much of a chance to ride my bike. In fact, I would say that I am “a little rusty” at long distance riding. In English, when you haven’t used a skill for a long time, we say that it “gets rusty”.

Rust is the brown colour you see on metal that hasn’t been taken care of. Old buildings, old cars, and old tools can all get rusty. But, with a little practice and a little care, the rust can be removed and something can look like new again.

Take a look at these pictures. On the left are the tracks used everyday at Ozaki station. On the right are the tracks that have not been used since the fire a few weeks ago. See that rusty brown colour?







Like these tracks, your English skills need care and attention. If you leave them too long, they will get rusty, just like these tracks. Take care of them everyday, however, and they will be sharp and ready whenever you need them.

Good luck on your last day of tests,


46th Wakayama English Recitation Contest

Hello everyone,

Another typhoon rolled over Japan this weekend, I hope your home and family are all ok. Before the storm hit, two of our students and I went to Wakayama city hall to participate in the annual recitation contest.

Before the summer, both students were offered 10 different readings to choose from. Miss Oida chose “Visas for 6,000 lives”, which is about a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania during World War Two. Of course you know this story, in which Mr. Sugihara wrote visas for Jewish people trying to leave the country. It is a serious story, and Miss Oida told it with grace.

Miss Takeda chose a piece called “Changing the World”. This is a speech that was first done at a United Nations environmental summit in Brazil. At the summit, a 12 year old girl spoke to adults on behalf of children about the problems facing future generations. Miss Takeda was the first speaker of the day, and her powerful voice set the tone for all of the other students there.

Both students won a special prize sponsored by the “Wiseman’s Club of Wakayama”. They should be proud of their effort! Good job!

In Memory of Paula-sensei

Hello everyone,

Today is a sad day here at Shin-ai. Many of you will not know Paula-sensei, but if your older sister, mother, or teacher is a Shin-ai graduate, they will. Paula was from America and taught English here for twenty years. She is an important part of Shin-ai’s history, and also a trail-blazer. When she came to Wakayama, there were not many foreign people teaching English here. Her effort and energy helped open up our school to new programs and challenges like SGH and our visitors from Australia.

Ten years ago she retired and moved back to America. Although I did not work with her, I met Paula when she came back to Japan to visit her friends. She most recently came back this summer.

Unfortunately, when she returned to America, she went to the doctor and learned she was sick. She passed away today. When you pray today, please remember that we are all part of a big Shin-ai family, filled with not only the people you see everyday, but also the people that came before.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

– Mary Elizabeth Frye


Respect for the Aged Day 2018

Hello everyone,

I hope you enjoyed your two days off. Monday was a national holiday called “敬老の日”, or “Respect for the Aged Day”. It is a holiday that started in 1966 and it is a chance to think about the older people in our lives.

In Japan this holiday is becoming more important every year. Yesterday it was reported that one in five people in Japan are over 70 years old. Japan has the oldest population in the world, and it is only getting older. This is important for you to think about.

In the future, jobs that help old people will become more in demand. It is easy to imagine jobs like nursing being more important. But really, all of society will change with an older population. Someone who can design barrier-free buildings, improve hearings aids, or think of better safety designs on cars will be as important as nurses.

So, this day is not only a day to say “thank you” to your grandparents, but this is also a day to think about the future, and how we can all be a positive part of it.

Have a great day, enjoy that beautiful blue sky out there!


Thanks for coming today!

Hello everyone,

Today we had a meeting to return the pre-test to the students who took the exam last week. They got a chance to get some advice from different teachers, as well as learn about some of our school’s clubs.

After that they had half an hour to walk around the school and look into various classes being held in fourth period. I think some of your teachers were nervous today because they had some people watching them!

To everyone who came to our school to get their test back and take a look around, thank you very much! To all the teachers who were teaching and students who helped prepare, a big thanks to you too.

Now we have a two day holiday, and then next week we will welcome some guests from Australia. Let’s make sure they enjoy their time in Wakayama. See you Tuesday!


Today’s bible talk, Timothy 4:12

Hello everyone.

I hope you could hear my bible study this morning. Here is a copy of what I said:

Timothy 4:12

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.


This is a message from Paul written to Timothy. In the bible, Timothy was working as a young man, sometimes talking about God to people who were older than him. Paul is telling Timothy that he should not worry about his age. Being a good role model was the most important way to show other people his faith.

You are also young, like Timothy. You do not need to wait until you are older to hear God, pray to God, or work for God. God is with you from the day you are born until the day you die. He wants you to live this way today, not just when you are an adult.

Everyday at school we are all sharing our lives together. We study and play, laugh and cry, succeed and fail. Your days at school are your chance to set an example and show others your faith.

This does not mean you need to act like an adult. You are not adults yet. But it means your words and actions are important today, and the good example you show can help other people, both younger and older than you.

Please take a moment to think about today’s message.

If you have any questions about it, please ask me. Have a great day!

Is the former or latter better?…

Hi everyone,

Today I was reading a newspaper article about the hurricane headed towards America. The article was walking about last year’s hurricane season, and one sentence made me pause:

In 2017, for the first time in over a decade, the United States was hit with four devastating hurricanes: Irma, Harvey, Nate, and Maria. Nearly 3,000 people in Puerto Rico died as a result of the latter, thanks in large part to…

Usually we use the word “latter” when we talk about the second of two options. We use the word “former” for the first one. In this case there is a list of four names, so I think a better way to write the sentence could be:

In 2017, for the first time in over a decade, the United States was hit with four devastating hurricanes: Irma, Harvey, Nate, and Maria, the last of which killed nearly 3000 people in Puerto Rico. This was in large part thanks to…

Just some food for thought. Have a good day!

Ozaki Station

Hello everyone,

As you probably know, there was a fire in the station during the typhoon. Ozaki station is built over the tracks, so it was difficult to fight that fire. Some of the pictures from the day are shocking.

See that big black hole? That was my favorite gyoza spot! I hope the businesses in the station can start again.

As we continue to repair and recover form the typhoon, there is some good news! For students and teachers who use the Nankai line, Ozaki station re-opened today. However, it looks a little different…

This is the entrance today. You can’t go up and over the tracks, so how do you get to the platform?

They built a special ramp ON the tracks! It feels strange to walk on top of the rails. This is the picture for people going to Wakayama, and there is another ramp on the other side for people going to Osaka.

It will take time for the station to be repaired or rebuilt, but for now, we can start using the station again. Day by day, step by step, life returns to normal.