Our visit with exchange students from our sister city, Nagaokakyo, Japan.

It was so nice to return from vacation on Monday to an exciting event, our Japanese visitors from our sister city.  Our guests brought gifts for the school, and performed an impressive dance for the whole school during an assembly.  Our wonderful second grade performed a song for them, and the whole school sang “Yellow Submarine”.

My favorite memory is seeing them eating lunch with the second grade in the cafeteria, helping them to learn to use chopsticks (our clever second graders found eating pancakes with chopstick to be quite easy…use them like a spear!)

During the assembly, one student read a heartfelt statement, thanking Arlington for hosting them, and for all the support they felt from us after the earthquake.  This sparked many good conversations, especially one during our last School Advisory Council meeting this week.  As always, we reflect on our own school culture, and compared our values to those in Japan.  The following, “Ten Things to Learn from Japan”, was shared with me (thank you Laila), and we thought it would be fitting to share them here.

10 Things to Learn from Japan:

1. THE CALM
Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.

2. THE DIGNITY
Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.

3. THE ABILITY
The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.

4. THE GRACE
People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.

5. THE ORDER
No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.

6. THE SACRIFICE
Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?

7. THE TENDERNESS
Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.

8. THE TRAINING
The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.

9. THE MEDIA
They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly
reporters. Only calm reportage.

10. THE CONSCIENCE
When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly

These are reflection of a respectful and caring culture.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our society had the same values?   One of the great thing about an elementary school is that we have the potential to teach those values to our children.  Creating cultural change is difficult, but not impossible…who knows?  Maybe it will begin with our kids!

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