The Time Has Come to Say Goodbye…

Graduation season is fast approaching in Japan.  Many of the local high schools had their ceremonies yesterday and today.  The junior high schools will have theirs next week (I was told) and the ones at the elementary schools & kindergartens will be during the week of 11th.

Yes, graduation is held right before cherry blossom season… just before the buds on the trees burst open and you can sometimes see a little hint of pink.  The start of the school year is at the beginning of April when the cherry trees are blooming and the world is ready for a new chapter.  🙂

We had the final classes of the school year today at the elementary school.  The 5th graders made ice cream sundaes, following simple instructions in English… then eating their “original” sundaes in silence with big smiles on their faces.  🙂  (It’s not like they are allowed to eat fruit and ice cream at school on a daily basis… so, yes, they were quite happy!)

The 6th graders gave short speeches in English and I made popcorn for them as a “Good job!” treat.  They had all been practicing so hard for the past two weeks.  Some had to take their notes up to the front of the class with them, but 85% of the kids had memorized their speeches word-for-word!

Watching and listening to them today, my heart was filled with so much pride!  Many of the ones who would gripe and complain during class about how hard it was to pronounce English words or what use was there to learn another language if they couldn’t use it every day… they were the ones who tried their best and were beaming when they said their final, “Thank you!”  (Yes, this cry-baby almost lost it a couple of times…)

After all that was done, I went back home for a quick lunch and then went back to the school… I had been invited by the kids to attend the “Sawakai”.  Not sure what this would be in English, but it’s a special event/party held by the 6th graders for their parents and teachers to show their appreciation and to say thank you.  There are games, the kids sing songs, everyone eats a snack together, there’s usually a video presentation and today the kids gave a performance using Japanese taiko (drums).

There were very few dry eyes in the crowd during that show… watching the kids work together as a team, keeping in sync with one another, listening to each other… it was VERY moving!

So, their graduation will be in two weeks.  Several of the kids asked me today if I was going to be there, to which I replied, “Of course!!  It’s your special day, right?  I wouldn’t miss it for anything!”

I’ll have to be sure to take a couple of handkerchiefs… 🙂