Young students at Jefferson Elementary said “konichiwa” in greeting their visitors who had traveled from Japan to share their world with them on Monday afternoon.
Yuki Ito and Kaori Suda spent time in the different classrooms during the morning, showing the students some of the differences between school in Japan and in Kansas. Both travelers teach junior high school in Japan — Ito teaches English and Suda teaches physical education.
Ito has been corresponding with Jefferson Elementary librarian Deb Greenwall for many years, which has given Greenwall the opportunity to use their relationship as a learning opportunity.
“We have known each other for many years,” Ito said to a classroom full of fifth-graders. She explained the Japanese school year to the class, and also diagrammed what a student’s lunch would look like on a daily basis — complete with rice balls, pickled plums and various meats.
Both the Japanese and English students filled out surveys, answering questions about their daily lives. Ito will compare the different answers.
LATER IN the afternoon, Ito and Suda demonstrated some different aspects of Japanese culture before the entire school in its gymnasium.
To start, however, the Jefferson students gave them a traditional Japanese greeting (with a bow) and sang counting songs in their language. Ito played a video from the students’ correspondents in Japan — a group of middle schoolers from Osaka. They had the chance to see a virtual tour of their classrooms and outdoor recreation areas.
Suda then gave a hands-on demonstration of her Judo skills, which she teaches in her P.E. class. A few “lucky” students got dropped to a mat with her quick martial arts ability. Before closing, Ito gave students a chance to practice Japanese calligraphy by spelling “friend,” and showed them traditional Japanese Kimono dresses.