We spent a single afternoon at Inagi Daini Elementary School today, but we left totally inspired. It can be hard to get a sense of a place through observation, especially with language barriers, but it was very clear that amazing things are happening in this little community on the south side of Tokyo. Here are my top 5 reasons why it was sugoi (incredible):
1) We were treated like royalty, from beginning to end.
2) The students get to walk from school to the nearby vineyard and learn how to take care of one of their community’s most valued natural resources, the rare Takao grapes.
3) Students get to share their opinions about what needs to be protected and fixed in their community, and they even use some systems thinking mapping!
4) Students learn about how rice is grown and get to help out in a real way, through both classroom work and getting out into their community to see the theories in action.
5) Students are working to preserve cultural identities as well as the environment. They learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony from the masters, and then get to practice the different steps.
All in all, it was a pretty special experience, and I finally feel that I saw “Education for Sustainable Development” in action in a very full way. The students at this school were truly immersed in the community engaging in real work that matters. We (the American teachers) all remarked that we can’t possibly give back enough to thank these schools for hosting us. We are sharing our talents and greetings from our schools one little bit at a time.Today, I shared some of my students’ art, gave a talk and showed a video of Innovation Academy, did some balloon twisting, and answered the questions of Japanese students. Other teachers in our program taught the Star Spangled Banner, gave a beautiful mural, and shared their other unique talents.
Tomorrow we leave for our host cities, and I’ll be heading to Kushiro, on the Northern island of Hokkaido. We are all thinking more about all the possibilities and growth that is possible with some international collaboration. It’s all going to start with the personal connection. That moment today when I walked down to the vineyard holding the hand of an adorable little 8 year old girl who was too shy to say much in English but told me that she liked cake. This wasn’t a day that any of us will forget any time soon.
Thank you to everyone at Inagi Daini Elementary School!