The internet has started being friendlier to me this evening. Since about 5 pm, it’s given me several 20 or 30 minute sessions of use before being interrupted by god knows what.
As I walk around town, sing and play with seven year olds, or wake up every morning and eat melon bread and drink cold coffee from a carton, I often think “this is an experience that I want to convey to others.” Since people have seemed fairly interested in this blog so far (you rock, Frankie!) I figure some lively descriptions of fairly mundane occurrences might be warranted.
Most people know about how Japanese students must clean their schools daily. I have vague recollections from my early childhood in the late 80’s, when Japan was poised to take over the world, of this fact being used as anecdotal evidence for Japan’s success – work ethic, basically. I might have bought into this myth before I actually witnessed students clean their school. Yes, everyone is assigned a specific location and team, with a supervising teacher, and a student leader, who must check, in a very official sounding voice, the satisfactory cleaning of their area. Yes, there are broom closets in every hall, and for 20 minutes, they bustle with activity of students cleaning. But they don’t seem to know how to actually sweep. Or mop. They are very good at spreading dirt around. During cleaning time, I usually try to find a broom and dustpan and sweep my way around somewhere. I don’t have to do much to fill up a dustpan so full of sand and lint and dust and dirt to make me start to sneeze. In terms of overall cleanliness, including paint job, condition of doors, windows, floors, etc, none of my Japanese schools compare to even the old Swanson Elementary school building in Palmer. And I’m pretty sure there were just one or two old dudes taking care of that place.