I wrote this two weeks ago, but due to my recent trip to California, I never posted it. Sorry!
The Elementary School Year is almost over and today was my last day with the sixth graders. In 2 of the 3 classes, they made me cards and a “thank you” necklace (it’s pretty cool). All three classes were awesome, which is a great way to end the school year. It’s kind of sad that the next time I see them; I’ll just be a tape recorder in the corner. The interaction is a lot less in JHS because I’m not the head teacher, but I guess I still get to see them.
Thanks to the Tohoku Earthquake, my cousin canceled her trip to visit Japan. I had taken 2 days of vacation (5 day weekend, woo hoo!) in anticipation of her trip. Since I already had these days off and after talking with my family, I decided to take a trip to California where I met my family in Palm Springs. It was a bit of a last minute trip, but I was really happy to leave the craziness of Japan for 9 days. A few comments from my trip: the check-in line leaving Japan was 1 hour and 5 minutes long, I visited 4 countries in one day, seeing my family and friends was an awesome feeling. Now I’m back from my brief vacation and I’m spending my days at the Board of Education office. What does this mean exactly? It means I sit at my desk, edit lesson plans, study Japanese, blog…You get the drift.
Chiune Sugihara Memorial Park
I’m guessing that you all don’t know who this man is (neither did I). Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania who issued travel visas for 6000 people affected by WWII (mostly Jewish people). He was born in the town of Yaotsu, which is 15 minutes North of my town. I visited this memorial on a few Sundays ago, with the Watanabe’s (the lovely older couple in my town, the wife speaks English) and a friend of theirs (who is learning English from Mrs. Watanabe). First we visited the 3 pillars. They are to represent 3 things that I can’t remember (I believe one is heart). There are 3 bells at the top of each pillar and we rang them all. Next, we walked to the actual museum/memorial building. Inside was numerous displays and artifacts from Mr. Sugihara or from the people he rescued from WWII.
Here is a short idea of what he did. He was based in Lithuania and when the Nazis moved into Lithuania, thousands of people, mainly Jewish people were sent fleeing the Nazis. Sugihara wanted to issue visas for these people but the Japanese government said no (which makes sense because they were on the same side as the Nazis). The reason the people wanted travel visas to Japan was because they would take the Siberian Railway, and in order to leave Russia/Soviet Union, you had to have a stamp in your passport accepting you into another country. Basically the stamp Sugihara gave them was their pass to a new, free life in the US and Canada.
So we walked around and viewed the museum, it was a really good story and any of you history buffs would like it, I’m sure!
After the museum we stopped for a light lunch and then I went home.
There you have it, my Sunday adventure (from the middle of March).