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March 13, 2013 / Mika Riedel

Nijiiro Class Meeting

December 12th, 2012

Yopa’s report

Today was your typical cold and clear December day.  Thirteen elementary school children gathered in the Koyo provisional housing assembly room to play.

Boo-chan played leapfrog with the children for a while as they were still arriving.  Following that, in preparation for our Christmas party during Nijiiro Crayons time next week, he asked if they had any suggestions.  “Yes!”, “I do!”, “Me, Me!”, one after another their hands went up.

When we began, the boys were making crude jokes and laughing amongst themselves, but before long they began to ask “Let’s play cards”, “We wanna play a game”, “let’s play soccer”…  One after another they started listing our usual Nijiiro Crayons activities.  Before we knew it leadership had passed from Boo-chan to the high school boys.  With boisterous enthusiasm the kids established a majority and the crude jokes spontaneously died out.

When the proposal to “tease Boo-chan” came up, we suggested “tease” wasn’t a very nice thing to say.  “Perhaps everyone can come up with a more appropriate description.”  At which point they began blurting out interesting ideas like, “Ok, let’s chase after him”, and “We’ll make a Boo-chan sandwich!”

It’s a really pleasant change to see the kids working together forming a consensus so that everyone can feel comfortable.

After discussing their options, they chose an assortment of activities like origami, collage making, clay, playing cards, and mock sword fights.

As of yesterday it’s been 1 year and 9 months since the disaster.

Last Friday we had another good sized quake.  The children were intentionally making jokes and song lyrics about their experiences, but you could see in their eyes, nobody was laughing on the inside.  This kind of behavior still occurs but hopefully as we share time together and feel more comfortable, things will return to normal.

Recent volunteer additions June-chan and Mikan are putting their child rearing experience as veteran mothers to use, warmly surrounding the children with a huge sense of security.  The provisional housing residents have also been openly welcoming us.

In our second year since the earthquake fear of an uncertain future leaves us immersed in discord.  Today was one of those brief moments where I could really sense a community warmly focused on the children is beginning to take root.

Today’s volunteers were Onchan-Shisho, Kiyo-kun, June-chan, Boo-chan, Mikan and Yopa.

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 12/12/2012.

Translated by Paul Haugerud.

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