A Meaningful Tuesday

Not sure how you spent your Tuesday yesterday, but I sure had a great one.  Yesterday, I went and worked at a school that teaches kids who suffer from personal disorders or disabilities.  The school is located in the same area I live in Japan.  The purpose of the school is to teach their students to learn basic knowledge and living skills such as cleaning, washing, and more.  The school also strives to help these kids find a part-time job after graduating from high school.   Very different to other schools in Japan, this school has students studying in primary, junior high and senior high school all in one.  It is one of the most amazing schools I have ever seen.

As a person who has ever had any experience working with special needs children, I couldn’t really prepare myself except have an open mind when attending this school for a one day class. When I arrived at the school, I met a boy student who was with a male teacher at the front of the school and was lying on the floor.  Now that I think about it, I believe he suffers from autism or maybe down syndrome. Either way, I wasn’t scared, but more so curious as to what exactly he was doing and wanted to greet him. That I did. I walked up to him and tried to give him a handshake. He was shy at first but slowly become more willing and eventually shook my hand. Following after that, I did three separate classes with one to three grade junior high school students. It was all guided by the teachers at the school and I had a fantastic time.  At the beginning of each class, I talked a little bit about myself such as my name, where I am from and what food I like. The students each did their self introductions.  The most impressive thing was they did it in English!! I mean, it’s easy for me to speaks in English, but for them, it is very challenging.  I won’t understand how much effort and time teachers had spent to teach them. During the class, we played a game called fruit basket/animal basket and sang a song called the “Saint is marching”. I hadn’t sang that song since I was in primary school.  I did manage to teach something to which they seemed to enjoy and that was the Chicken Dance! I showed them an example of the moves and once the music was turned on and I started dancing, they watched me and they started to dance! It was one of the most musical moments I had ever experienced working with kids to date. The kids were all very well behaved.  I had no idea at first how this school visit would go, but everything went smoothly. I am astound by the work that the teachers have done with these kids. Many thanks to the teachers at the school. For each class, we not only has teachers but also assistants working with certain students to get them moving and focused. Hats off to all the teachers and people out there who have dedicated their lives to working in this area to teach and support kids who need it most.

This is by far, one of the best days since coming to Japan. It’s not about the cultural experience, but the fact that I was able to spend time with these kids, talk and teach them something. When I leaving the last class, I was presented with a gift made by the students.

Handmade Gifts from the students

It is the most touching gifts I have ever received. I am so grateful to have experienced this.  I really hope to see them again soon 🙂

For me, it is easy to spend a little time with these kids and play games with them one random day.  However, I will never understand how difficult it is for the teachers and families to help these kids grow in the long term.  The amount of responsibility, pressure, complexity, frustration, despair and more are unthinkable.  I heart goes out to anyone who suffers from a disability; and to people or families who has someone they need to look after who suffers from a disability.   I salute you all.

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