Man on Train

Man on Train

Like the title says…

Today I volunteered at a local elementary school along with several other internationals (a couple from Ecuador, a woman from China, and a woman from Thailand). When we arrived we waited in the office and drank tea. I enjoyed meeting the other internationals and talking with some of the staff. Then we went to the gym where the fifth and sixth graders were all waiting. About seventy of them sat in neat rows. Every time I scanned their faces I saw several faces staring back at me with absolute wonder in their eyes. We introduced ourselves, and shortly after we were each escorted to separate classrooms (by little kids who were serious about their roles). I spent the next forty minutes answering questions like: What are the most famous places in America? What do they eat in America? I expanded my answers beyond the usual responses. It was fun. Then we joined the kids for lunch. In Japan students eat in their classrooms. The desks were grouped together, so I sat with a group of five students. We talked and ate; you know how that is. On a cue everyone stood and began pushing the desks toward the walls. Then they cleaned up the entire school starting with the classroom — sweeping, mopping, dusting, etc. What a great idea! I’m sure those kids have a better appreciation for the school cleaning staff (and the school itself) than most of their American counterparts. When it was time to leave I was MOBBED by students asking for my autograph. I signed and signed bits of paper and notebooks like some kind of baseball star. Before leaving we returned to the conference room where they served us coffee and mints. It occurred to me that in the USA we would have shown up, did our thing, and exited more efficiently. We would have been in and out more quickly, but we would have missed getting to know each other and the school staff.

Meanwhile the girls had their big bicycle “race” today at preschool….. Isn’t that funny? But seriously they rode for a solid hour, and the winner was the one who went the furthest. This year the winner was…Reia! She brought home a giant medal half the size of her face, and she’s quite proud. I think she covered more than 10km (not sure exactly how far). Mari and Maika rode with training wheels and covered about 5km.

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