9/7 I had my first classes today with 7th graders. Here they are called first graders. The differences between USA and Japan are unimaginable as far as education goes. I had imagined something different in my head I guess. Let me share what I have found to be amazing. Students Stay in their “homeroom” all day. Teachers move around each hour. Teachers all are at their desk in the teachers room before school starts. This mean EVERYDAY the entire staff is together. This is built into their day. The principal starts the day and then grade level teams have their announcements. Instead of an hour staff meeting once a month or whatever we do at home-they have a quick 5-10 minute meeting every morning! Teachers eat lunch in their homeroom. Every day teachers eat lunch with students-in the classroom. This means no cafeteria or supervision from others. The school lunch is amazing. The students go get it in the kitchen, bring up pots and pans, set the desks and serve he food. The students have 15 minutes to do this. Those who do not have the job of lunch serving are able to socialize at this time. Then we all sit down at once and eat. After we have 20 or so minutes to eat the students then have 20 minutes of free time. That means it is a 50 minute lunch period. Students go outside and RUN, they mess around and hands and feet to yourself isn’t a thing.
The children here get to be children. They laugh, smile, rough house, and manage themselves. Students are chatty (at appropriate times) and they are respectful. Watching the way the students interact intrigues me. They seem to all get along…There doesn’t seem to be a “bully” and a kid that pushes each kids buttons on purpose. The students here remind me of my siblings and I. If you know how close I am with my siblings, the way we rough house and the way we joke-that’s similar to how the children are at school. It is INCREDIBLE.
Working on myself and I’ve been thinking about some of life’s most valued/unvalued thoughts (depending on the person you ask). People say “love changes” and I think I can agree with that to a certain extent. However, I’m not looking for a love that changes. I’m not looking for love at all. But it seems like everybody is always searching for a person to have in their life that they can lean on-when the only person you will ever have to depend on is YOURSELF. The love I know to be true is a love that CHANGES ME for the better and a love that remains the same even though everything else in life changes. Life changes not just through the years but even day to day. If life changes, people change, happiness changes…Love should be the one thing that stays the same. I guess when I say love-I’m referring to “in love” head over heals, crazy stupid love. Most people don’t believe in it. But most people also end up getting divorced, settling, or just being with somebody whom of COURSE they love, but they are no longer IN LOVE with. So it makes sense that most people don’t believe in it-most people don’t have it. Don’t sell yourself short. Every single person deserves to have that forever, crazy stupid love. If you don’t believe in it, I can assure you that you will never feel it/stumble into it.
My favorite word: HAPPY.
“…allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.” Charles L Morgan
Next thought…happiness. Happiness changes. Well for some people it does. When I was a child (probably like you) I’m sure binkys, bottles and my family made me happy. As I got older that changed a little bit. Friends, family, games, playing outside, looking for creatures, nature, a warm bath, those things then made me happy. Then I discovered more happies(!) driving, the ocean, traveling, relationships…If we all made a timeline our happies would change throughout different stages in life. My happies have not so much changed, just more things have been added to the list of what makes me happy. Different things have made me feel ALIVE at different stages in my life…but things that made me happy as a child still make me happy as an adult. When I say I appreciate the little things-that is what I mean. I’ve kept my excitement and happiness throughout my life as it was when I was a little. When I see an elephant, rainbow, sunflower or a wild outfit that I put together myself I still get silly excited about it. I did not purposefully keep my happies the same but I think that is what it means to be “a child at heart”. I get it from my mama (haha=mom in Japanese). That is what I appreciate/love most about myself+my mama and what I love most about children. Everything in life changes…but maybe it’s the abstract ideas/nouns/verbs that should remain the same-like love and happiness. Abstract because you cannot physically touch them. Noun because it is a thing-more of an idea. A verb because love can be something that you DO-it’s an action.
I hope is that each person reading this has their own happy. So many people lose their happy in the rush of growing up, getting a career, starting a family…Life changes but your happy MUST REMAIN.
My brothers are older than me-by several years. When I was in elementary school my brother told me, “never wish to be older“. When he told me this for some reason I knew exactly what it meant. I knew that I didn’t need to rush to be in middle school, or high school, to get my drivers license, to graduate and move out…because once you start looking forward and wishing for the future…you miss out on NOW and the happies that are right in front of you. At the age of 8 some kids were wishing to be 16 so they could drive. I was wishing for a dog.
At the age of 12 girls were getting boyfriends-I was putting boys in headlocks.
Age 14 I was playing pranks with my dad. We were always driving around in the corvette playing fart sounds through the cassette tape we made off of the CD Pull My Finger (on the way to baskin robins to get ice cream).
I remember being at the ocean for the first time when I was 12 or 13. I watched the sunset over the waves at ocean shores and I promised myself I would never forget that moment and that sunset. Of course the colors have faded in my memory. But At that moment, 16 years ago I knew that I would never wish life away. For some reason I always knew deep down that I could never wish for happiness and love. When I would make a wish with a coin, on a star, or on my birthday I knew that wishes don’t manifest those types of joys in life. I also always thought that I SHOULD tell the world my wish-because the more people that know, the more likely it is to come true
Wishing life away comes in many forms. Wishing for Friday. Wishing for summer. Wishing for Christmas/holidays. When you are too busy wishing/waiting/looking forward to these special things in life…each day loses its own sparkle/special. Wishing/waiting/hoping/looking forward to the future…those are each a form of wishing life away. It’s fun to look forward to vacation or a friend visiting…but it cannot be the only “thing to look forward to”. Each day that your feet hit the floor is a day to walk out the door smiling. Who knows what surprises you will stumble upon today.
Another thing I never understood was when kids became embarrassed of their parents. I never went through that. I still haven’t gone through that. I think it is a pretty normal stage that MOST children go through…but I don’t remember going through it. I also have some pretty incredible parents. I’m 28 years old and I think its hilarious that my dad waits at the bus stop for me after school and walks me there in the morning. How many adult children get that?! Most would be so embarrassed they would not allow it. I step off the bus yelling “CHICHI” which I have learned also means boobs. And my dad waves back “RACHELLLLL”. Then we laugh. I have always been proud of my parents because I think they are good people. I try to let my friends know them as well-because I think everybody should meet them. If you meet my parents-you can see where parts of me come from. I LOVE THAT. I love seeing siblings/families together and the resemblance and the quarks.
Last self care thought for this post…..Infinite worth. I am enough. I got this tattooed in my own handwriting because I needed a reminder EVERY SINGLE DAY from MYSELF that I am more than enough. I don’t need other people to tell me that or remind me…It has to come from within. This is one of my favorite Videos, by Kent Hoffman. If you can, watch it.Every single person you will ever meet has infinite worth. EVERY PERSON. One year I was having a hard time with my students and the way they were treating each other. We stopped in our tracks. In the time the children were in PE for 30 mintues I had rounded up a few people from around the school, in different positions, different genders and ages and made a plan. I asked these adults to come up with the best attributes of themselves and the worst. I shared that-I am a teacher, I have graduated from college, gotten my masters, I have failed classes, sometimes I wear my rain boots 2 days in a row, I have tattoos. Next up was our vice principal. He is a great man and he shared similar successes. Graduate, Vice Principal, awards, cannot remember his negatives…but throughout this lesson we all had different accomplishments we shared and different struggles. At the end of this my class put the 5 of adults in order from the person who was worth the most to the person who was wroth the least. I asked them to do this impossible task. I had a few children who said-no, this is not possible. But I told them if you HAD to-where would you place us. Now-out of all of these adults my students knew ME best. I ended up being 4th in the line up. FOURTH. My students thought that others were worth more because their job was higher up, they were a male, they won awards, had a family…My students thought I was worth less because I wore my rain boots more than 1 day in a row, because I had failed a class, and because I had struggles in life that I was willing to share with them. The students for the most part put us into order easily. They knew who they thought was the best and who wasn’t worth as much…This put me in tears. As the tears started I told the students that we cannot be placed in “order” of who is worth more because EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU MEET HAS INFINITE WORTH. This was a new idea for me a few years ago. The students had never heard of this idea. I headed out the door for a moment while a friend finished talking about how people all matter, absolute. It does not matter your age, gender, job title, accomplishments, failures…It seems like these things would alter your judgement about a person…
But every single person you meet has infinite worth. I am not worth more than a high school drop out. You are not worth more than the person sitting on the corner with a cardboard sign that says anything helps. Be kind. A person is a person.
9/10 School has been cancelled three times since I have started at my school. Typhoon day, the next day because there was no power and today due to heavy rain. I imagine this throws things off greatly for the teachers and their class schedules. This means I will not have classes today. I miss out on most conversations/meetings because my Japanese is SO BASIC right now. I have got to get studying and practicing more so that I can hold a conversation in Japanese.
Bits and pieces and a few words from Father.
Next week I will go diving for the first time. : O
The cats-I cannot believe the cats.
My latest and greatest obsession…because when I get into something-I get really into it (like my Haha).
Words of wisdom from father that come from the lessons he has learned here.
- Don’t ride your bike in the rain.
- Watch your step-watch your head.
- Have a good bike light, umbrella and hat. It took us 2 weeks, some falls and being SOAKED before we figured this out.
- Always secure your keys
- Ice cream is good especially the waffle looking ice cream sandwiches.
- Something is PROBABLY going to happen if the trains are not running and no one is out in the streets. Advice from his typhoon adventure.