I'd like to take a moment to release a long, deep, sleepy sigh:
It's been quite a day.
I am in Tokyo now. In the same city, in the same hotel where I was exactly one year ago today. Except this time, I am on the other end of things.
Last year I stumbled off a plane, piled my bags onto a cart, trudged through a hotel full of smiling people pointing the way, wondered why they were so incredibly happy to see me, and came to this hotel to collapse in a haze of utter exhaustion.
Today I took a short bus ride to the airport, was assigned a little corner next to the elevator, and spent the next 8 hours grinning crazily at new JETs as they stumbled off a plane and trudged past me pushing a cart piled with bags, and then came to this hotel to collapse in a haze of utter exhaustion.
Still exhausted, but this time, I am on the other end of things. This year, instead of being a new JET just off the plane, I am a Tokyo Orientation Assistant (TOA). And I have to say, I prefer it!
I flew to Tokyo on Friday.
I took a monorail and three trains by myself, arrived in Seijo, Tokyo around 10 p.m., and met some friends to stay the night.
I woke up on Saturday morning, took another train, and arrived at this hotel: The Keio Plaza Hotel. Then I attended 4plus hours of training, got sushi with a new friend, boarded a bus, and went to a different hotel near Narita airport.
Woke up this morning, joined the rest of the TOAs, and went to the airport to anxiously await the arrival of hundreds of new JETs.
Our duties at the airport involved an unnecessary amount of waiting around, so when that first JET walked around the corner to my little welcome station, I nearly grinned my face off. I was so happy to welcome this new french friend, who I may never see again, to a year or more of incredible adventures, that I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to hug every JET that walked by me (except the ones that were all glare-y... they scared me).
So for the rest of the week I will be here at this hotel, manning the information desk or the hospitality center (where JETs can iron clothes, skype call home, get medicine, or have a chat), setting up for orientation sessions, and just generally trying to make myself helpful. All while meeting other TOA JETs from all over the country, learning about their experiences, and making awesome new friends. I am loving it already.
I feel like I've come full circle in a way, and I can't imagine a better celebration of my one year anniversary in Japan. Here's to another year and Tokyo Orientation 2011!