there are times, and they are greatly increasing, where i really love the experience of living in another culture. the greatest is when you can understand enough of what’s going on to feel somewhat in-the-loop and able to laugh along with everyone else. (language acquisition is so SO SO important to lasting long term!!!!!! i never knew how much..)
i have recently been very encouraged by my experiences at jones’s youchien (preschool). me and the boys have made a practice of staying after pick-up time and playing for an hour, allowing me ample time to chat it up with the other moms that stay. ezra runs around, makes friends with the older girls who want a chance to play with a toddler, and gets extremely dirty. jones hangs on monkey bars and plays with his classmates. and i get the chance to feel like a normal part of the group.
a few weeks ago, the moms in this class had a “dinner party” of sorts, followed by karaoke with whoever wanted to go. i, of course, sang english songs. (they requested “my heart will go on” and “i will always love you” — flashbacks!) when i’m out-and-about in a group, the surrounding observers make me very aware of the fact that i’m the strange one, the one that doesn’t belong. but within the group, i feel somewhat at home, much different than at the beginning of the year, where all i could muster was apprehension and “get me outta here now!”
though i still have SO far to go, in terms of understanding japanese and being able to speak in a less round-about way, today i am very thankful for this youchien experience and how its helped me expand my horizons in japan. this is one way in which i have been a benefactor of the decision to send jones to school, and i wouldn’t have done it differently.
(PS – we have been here THREE YEARS now! i can hardly believe it, so glad things don’t stay the same forever.. and also very glad i don’t have to relive those years again..)