Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Own Country

IMG_0788So you might think we live in the Midwest of the good ol' US of A.  Locationally speaking, that is true.  But what's also true is that our daily experience is probably a bit closer things happening in the suburbs of Tokyo.
One of our priorities as a family is bilingualism.  Aogu and I both speak English and Japanese.  My nature causes me to feel strongly and unswervingly that what I have, I must pass on to the kids.  So, here we are are in Skokie, Illinois, with our kids in Japanese school, and when I really stop and think about it, it's a little otherworldly.
For example, above is a recent schedule for the day, posted for Koji's class in the school library.  It's specially written in English for the American second grade kids that came in for a one day exchange program.
Some terms on the sign: "Janken" means Rock, Paper, Scissors and if you think this is a mere childhood game, you are missing an important stone in the corner of Japanese society.  I am not kidding, any and every decision that needs to made between two people can quickly, easily (is it fair?  I guess so...) be settled with hands formed into various shapes and thrust out at the right moment.
In this case, Janken was the tool by which the kids played a train ("ressha") game.  And then a bowling game.  And who knows which other vital points for the day were settled in this manner?
"Japanese Traditional Games": the words are English, but as suggested, the content unfamiliar.  What struck me funny was that as the kids were trying to pin various parts to a blank face, some watching moms said to me, "Americans don't have any game like this, right?"  And I blew their minds when I replied, "Sure we do, it's called "Pin the Tale on the Donkey"....
Koji seems to enjoy school (which is important on many levels, not least the financial) and I'm thankful for days like this that let him shine.  A few of the other kids in the class speak English quite well but he's the most sure of himself and that makes him someone to go to when things aren't clear.  I had volunteered to be a helper that day, but he and his friends have grown up so much (already!) that they hardly need me.  The other mom volunteer and I spent most of our time complaining about not having any jobs.  Good problem, right?

Japanese word for the day: OYASUMINASAI  (oh yah sue me nah sigh), which means Good Night!

1 comment:

Jane Lucas said...

Love it, Jamie, Great photo and commentary. Especially was proud of Koji described as the "go to guy" which doesn't surprise me at all. Just like your Japanese friends say, "Wow, Jamie can speak English really well." =)