We’ve been here 2 months now and we’re figuring out what we can live without, what we really miss and what we’ll be running for once we step back into the US. We knew there would be a big learning curve when we arrived here, but since we found out we were coming, we continue to look at this as an opportunity. Opportunities as a family and individually.
We were presented with one of those opportunities a few weeks ago through Terry’s battalion. There is a Japanese Community Relations position at Terry’s base and Mio san does a great job of ensuring that the local community and the Marines have not just working relationship, but a mutual respect and collaboration. One program that he runs is through the local kindergarten classrooms to teach them English, where he recruits Marines to take part in this. He allowed the girls and I to attend and we were excited to go.
The day that we attended we were working with the kindergarteners on numbers and telling time. We practiced 1-12 and both classes did amazing with just a little hiccup at 11 and 12! When you don’t utilize the letter “L” in your language I imagine it’s a little difficult to practice and say those correctly, but they did great!
The girls and I were of course nervous about being in their classroom and teaching them something that seems so basic to us, but is a big milestone for them. As they came in we were greeted with shy smiles, whispers and some giggles too. They were so excited to see Mio san again and learn something new so we got to work.
It’s kindergarten, so universally you have to start with a fun song, chock full of hand and body movements. They were eager to show us and sing for us and we of course loved it. They sang a song in Japanese and a song in English right after that and we were happy to join in.
After we practiced our numbers we played an active game of “What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?” They had to practice telling time and also not being eaten by the masked Mr. Wolf (or several 6 year old wolves in this case!). The girls and I got right in the middle with them and tried not to be eaten by Mr. Wolf as well, although since we stood out we were eaten on a regular basis.
My tall blond was especially popular with the little girls and she was an instant favorite! She wasn’t sure how to react at first, since they would start by patting her then holding her hand, but she went along with it and helped them all with their game and telling time. She was also a favorite target when Mr. Wolf came running!
I have to say I have never seen a group of children as excited and rambunctious to play a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors (or as they prefer to say it: Rock, Scissors, Paper) in my life! They get in 2 lines: boys versus girls and see who is the last standing at the end. See the opens mouths in the background? Yep, it was loud and intense, but they were so into it!
Holy Cuteness! For the record it was a tie. The boys in the first class won their round and the girls in the second class won the other round. I may or may not have gone out the first round in both classes, but there’s no proof.
Because we didn’t have a third class, we were able to go outside and enjoy some playground time with the kids too. Cicadas are everywhere here on island and louder than 20 kindergarteners playing rock, scissors, paper. The girls and I steer clear of them because they just look like giant flies to us, but at the school it was a playground favorite to catch as many cicadas as possible (no thanks).
We witnessed some mad jump rope skills too and the girls were led all around the playground by their new friends. The girls kept asking me what they were saying to them and of course I had absolutely no idea since my Japanese vocabulary consists of about 4 phrases!
We were definitely tired after our morning with 40+ kindergarteners in 90+ degree heat, but it 100% worth it. This is what we had in mind in coming here to Okinawa. Not just enjoying ourselves and exploring, but getting involved when we can and this was a perfect opportunity.
We definitely learned a few things too:
6 year old boys are 6 year old boys, no matter if you’re sitting in Northern Virginia or a community in Okinawa, Japan! They have lots of energy and like to show off their skills!
We are fortunate. For them to open their classrooms to us and not only teach them, but learn some things ourselves (including adding new phrases to my repertoire!) was priceless. The girls won’t be able to experience this as much as I will since they will be in school soon, but I hope to attend a few more kindergarten classes to help them along with their English and for them to help me along with my Japanese.
Ella spotted this on the way in the school and was rewarded by giving it a whirl a few times before heading back home:
Um, I’m pretty sure if this slide were in the United States, it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen, but oh my goodness was it fun (and VERY fast)!