12 November 2007

Remembrance Day in Japan

Today I spontaneously decided to be cultural and teach some second year middle school students from Ichikoko just what Remembrance Day is! For those Americans, etc., reading this, Remembrance Day is a solemn day of ceremonies and, for some, prayer, which -- at least in Canada -- is largely focused on honouring the dead and striving to understand the horror of war, as opposed to the celebration of soldiers and victory.

I was inspired by the fact that I forgot the moment of silence, which is ordinarily customary on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (or, in the other words, yesterday when I was sitting in front of the computer listening to loud music), and perhaps because I'm a little older now, or perhaps because I'm half a world a way and am struggling for any connection to Canada I can find, I thought the best thing I could do to redeem myself would be tell some Japanese kids about this. The problem being, the kids I was teaching today have learned English for less than two years and are 14. They listened to every word of my little speech, which was very kind, and my JTE asked some good questions.

I find it strange though, that I suddenly feel so sentimental about this holiday. I think any person -- or at least any decent person -- would agree that remembering the dead and spending just a couple of minutes on one day a year meditating on the brutal reality of war is a worthwhile thing to do, but I felt the need to try to get these kids to understand. The Japanese have a similar holiday, largely marking the nuclear holocaust that closed Second World War, so hopefully the kids know where I'm coming from here -- especially since Nagasaki is an hour away from here. But, this is really the first time that I've felt the urge to put myself into a teaching position-- to tell them something genuine about my culture, rather than Canadian dialect or pop culture references.

The language barrier is so frustrating sometimes.

On a higher note, I've been putting cartoons from explodingdog, Toothpaste for Dinner and Don Hertzfeldt on every worksheet I make! No one's even asked about them yet, but I think it's contributing to the kid's understanding of... uh... international understanding, and is definitely contributing heaps to my own amusement.

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