Friday, January 11, 2013

Homeless Outreach and Gakugei School visit

So, the first week back to school after Christmas break had lots of activities.  It has been busy!  Here's what we have on our plate for the next couple of months: 
We have started in earnest on the Science Expo projects.  Science Expo will be on February 21st and 22nd.  There were many questions about topics and what would be approved experiments this week.  Hopefully almost all the students are set and can begin working on their experiments. 
This week the CAJ Middle School began the Homeless Outreach Ministry at Ikebukuro station.  Each homeroom teacher has spent about three or four sessions discussing homelessness here in Japan.  Before the actual date to go pass out breakfasts, each homeroom class will have each student prepare a lunch, randomly exchange their lunch, and then go to the neighboring park to eat it outside.  Hopefully, this activity will give the students an idea of what homelessness is like.  
My homeroom class is scheduled to go on Tuesday, January 29th.  To familiarize myself with the ministry, I went with one of the grade seven homeroom classes this past Friday morning, January 11th.  We began by meeting students at 5:40 a.m. at the Higashi Kurume station to catch a train down to Ikebukuro.  The homeless are allowed to sleep in the station during the night, but by about 7 a.m. they are asked to leave, which is why we leave so early in the morning.  Each of us prepares two to three breakfasts and include things like wool hats (toques as they are called in Canada), gloves, warmers, socks, or scarves.  We also include a Christian tract written in Japanese.  By about 6:10 a.m. or so we arrive at the Ikebukuro station, divide up into smaller groups and walk through the hallways of the station looking for people who are homeless.  If they are sleeping, we just leave a bag beside them.  If they are awake, we will greet them and give the bag to them.  

Waiting at Higashi Kurume station for some of the students.  Notice the two boys at the back?  Not sure they wanted to be associated with us.  :)  
Arrived at Ikebukuro station and are walking around to find homeless people to pass out our breakfasts.
One of our students just left a bag by this man. (sorry for the blurriness.  I was trying to be discreet.)
Riding back to CAJ
When we arrived back at CAJ, we had a delicious breakfast waiting for us.  It also gave the homeroom class an opportunity to discuss their experiences with each other.  
A delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausages was waiting for us at the CAJ cafeteria, prepared by the National Honor Society students.  
Students sitting down to hot chocolate.  
It was good to go along and see how the ministry is carried out.  I plan to go along again with one of the other grade six homeroom classes Tuesday, January 15th.  
On the way back from Ikebukuro, I was able to take this picture of the train on the track beside us at one of the stations.  You may notice how packed the train is!  I experienced that on the way to Tokyo Disneyland this Christmas break.  You literally are standing there surrounded by people holding you up.  People are literally pushed into the car.  Everyone sways with the car, and you don't even need to really hold on, because everyone is swaying with you.  
If you look at the other train on the next track, you can see how packed the train car is.
Friday afternoon, half of the grade six class went to a nearby school for students with special needs.  Our grade six students played some games with their students.  It was a good 45 minutes of interactions and games.  
CAJ students sitting on the floor listening to the welcome. 
The Gakugei students officially welcomed us in English (although it was tough to understand), loved the thought though.
One of the Gakugei teachers gave instructions for the first game. 
Playing our first game
One of the games we played had to do with the song, "When the Saints, Go Marching In."

Someone forgot her indoor shoes even after sending an email reminding students to bring indoor shoes!  
 Today I took Hana on a fairly long walk, probably the longest yet.  She was pretty tired by the end and basically crashed on the floor after getting a drink of water.  On our walk, I noticed that some of the houses sure are built close together.  I would say they are about four or five feet apart.  
Look how close together the houses are.  
The semester is ending next week.  That means the grades must be all complete and preparing report cards.  Students have also started putting together their portfolio for their student/parent conference that will happen in February.  
Lots of good activities, but it is busy.  I am praying you all have had and will continue to have a great 2013!
Please feel free to leave a comment or two.  

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