Friday, May 15, 2015

Beyond History and Politics

Where I'm teaching, on the east coast in the city of Qingdao, China, most nationals hold grudges and hatred toward the Japanese because of events that took place in history. In 2012, there were riots in cities protesting anti-Japan messages related to disagreements over who owns the islands nearby. An English teacher at our school from Japan stayed in the teacher dorm for weeks during that time. Her heart was broken because she came to China for that exact reason: to show that Japanese can forgive and love Chinese.

Fast forward to now, neither country has taken ownership of what happened. Punches are continually thrown back and forth in media and politics. Truthfully, I still don't see much of a difference between the two (thank you, Neil Postman).

These past two weeks, my 5th graders have been learning about camping, itineraries, and how to plan trips. Upon completion of their understanding and analyzing of the content, the students had to group up, plan their own trips, and write a 3-day itinerary. They did phenomenal on working out the details together in the process and then creating brochures for their trips.

What made me stop in my tracks was what is pictured below.
Inside the classroom of a private Chinese school, there was a group of girls from (L to R) Korea, China, and Japan. 

Recent events have been cast aside. 

These girls laughed, joked, and planned a fun trip to Korea. Originally, their destination was to Japan! I wish the news would show stories like this. You know: the stories that make you freeze, stop thinking about everything in life, and run chills up your arms. The collaboration was just beautiful.

This is exactly what I hope every one of my students learns. No matter what culture or people say, we can still love, respect, and learn from those whom our country has had trouble with in the past. 

Forgiveness brings freedom. When we move beyond history and politics, who knows what is possible?

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