Saturday, November 22, 2014

cultural exchange

Every year, our class gets the wonderful opportunity to visit a local Japanese elementary school. Cultural exchanges like this are just one of the bonuses of living on an overseas base, and the students (both American and Japanese) look forward to them! The focus of our visits usually centers around the process of planting, harvesting, and cooking rice so that students are able to see the entire process.

Our partner school has a wonderful relationship with local farmers and other adults in the community who volunteer their time (and rice) for this opportunity.

In October, we visited the school to learn how to thresh rice after it's been harvested from a nearby field. The students who attend our partner school actually took part in the planting of this rice earlier in the year. Our hosts talked about and showed us a variety of different tools used throughout history for threshing, and then gave us an opportunity to try it ourselves. The kids, both Japanese and American, had a great time using the machinery and separating the grains from the plants.

In November, we visited again. This time, our focus was on cooking the rice we had previously threshed. We learned how to cook the rice and then pound it, roll it out, and slice it to make mochi. The students were then able to eat the mochi in a broth-based soup and as a sweet dish with red bean paste.

While there, we were also taught how to make spinners (tops) out of cardboard cartons as well as samurai hats from newspaper. Even with the language barrier, our students were able to communicate and play with their new Japanese friends. They taught each other their favorite games and variations on games they all played (like Rock-Paper-Scissors/Janken).

We look forward to inviting our partner students to our school later in the school year to reciprocate their kindness and to share a bit of our culture with them!

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