The past few days I’ve been immersed in Japanese culture without leaving home.
On Friday, Mexican and Spanish friends and I made sushi for a birthday celebration. (Birthday girl is absent, busy taking the photo.) We couldn’t rise to the aesthetic challenge of creating perfectly shaped California rolls, but our stomachs couldn’t tell the difference. Lunch was delicious.
Yesterday, Japanese students in Talk Time, an English conversation class for adults that my friend Linda and I lead, practiced their oral language skills by doing presentations about a craft or skill, and in one case provided instructions and materials for a class activity.
We assigned this homework a month ago, but we became anxious yesterday, when only two students had appeared by the scheduled start time. We wondered if they were absent because they found the assignment intimidating. We were relieved when eventually almost everyone showed up. Time for the demonstrations to begin.
One student taught us an origami lesson, and we all folded sheets of paper into the shape of a pigeon that flaps its wings when you pull its head and tail.
Another, who worked as a dental hygienist in Japan, showed us how to brush our teeth.
As soon as the class ended, Linda and I decided we would assign this homework next year. The presentations were interesting and gave students a chance to show how well they could communicate orally. There was one more tiny reason for our decision: Those who couldn’t attend dropped off cookies and warm shortbread to make up for their absence.