It’s over 6,000 miles from here to Tokyo! As I finish getting ready for my AMAZING trip, I can’t help but think about all the Japanese families who make the 6,000 + mile trip to America AND put their kids in our schools. Think about it. You travel that many miles and (jet-lagged) are expected to acclimate to American culture and schools — not to mention the totally different language. And yet so many Japanese families do this every year!
Not only that, but the Japanese families I’ve encountered are thankful, polite and caring. Here’s a glimpse into the appreciative nature:
Two Japanese children started school late in the year and one of them was my ELL student — we’ll call her “Sunny” to protect her identify. Sunny barely spoke English and we spent a lot of time together to help her transition into an American third grade classroom. Every single time I met with her, she tried hard, was sweet and her personality started to come through, despite the language barrier. I learned that she had a great sense of humor. I asked her, “How are you?” She learned immediately to respond, “I’m sleepy.” Her eyes lit up when we talked about Japanese food and I shared my news about my upcoming trip to Japan. She brought in a book about Kyoto for me to look at. She taught me the proper way to sit while wearing a kimono. She cracked up at Dr. Seus books and adjusted well to her classroom.
About two weeks ago, Sunny’s mom came in and tearfully thanked us for working with her children. She carefully read from a note she’d written in English. She had the children in tears and every one of us was quite moved by her emotion. She said she didn’t know how her children would adjust to American schools, but we helped them and they are happy when they come home. Then, she pulled out origami pieces, which were not unfolded yet. She cut strips off each one and the children handed these to us. When we unfolded each one, it looked like this:
I am the thankful one. I’m thankful that these families trust me to help their children learn English. I’m extremely thankful that I’ll be observing Japanese children in their home schools and culture. The goal of the program is to ultimately understand where these children are coming from and how to help them when they get here.