Hello, my name is Dylan, and I live and work in Rikuzentakata. I’ll be popping up on this blog every now and again to share my experiences in this wonderful, growing city.
Last week, I was invited to participate in this year’s Kids’ Summer School, a cooperation with Arkansas Tech University (https://visittakata.com/2016/08/05/the-best-english-camp-ever/). I was put in charge of leading a group of 2nd graders as they bounced from class to class, activity to activity. Half of the time I worked as an interpreter, helping the English-speaking teachers communicate their lessons and instructions to the Japanese students. The other half of the time I was just another kid, jumping and dancing and playing games with the best of them.
The teachers, who all came from America just for this English camp, split into pairs to teach five classes: conversation, reading & writing, art, American games, and song & dance. I was impressed with how prepared the teachers were, their suitcases overflowing with four days worth of activities, materials, and gifts for the students (Where did they find space to pack clothes and necesities??). Each class was different, but equally fun, and I think the kids genuinely looked forward to conversation class just as much as American games.
As I got to know the Japanese students as well as the American teachers over the course of four days, and as I watched these two groups interact so warmly despite palpable language barriers, I was overcome with the feeling that we really are all one big family, this earth. The children quickly accepted me as their sensei, and held my hand and crawled onto my shoulders, and there was never any sense that any of us was diffrent from or less than another. I am so grateful that this kind of lasting cultural exchange is possible, that that Rikuzentakata is part of it. Here’s to doing it again next year, and the year after, and the year after that, too.