One of my students is moving to Okinawa over the summer. As the daughter of two USAF officers, she has moved around a lot in her 12 years-- Arizona, Colorado, Germany, Alabama, and Virginia have all been her home. Inevitably sad to leave her friends, she is excited, too.
She posted this on her kid blog:
I GET A JAPANESE SNEAK PREVIEW!
So, for dinner, me and my family and our friends went to this Japanese place where, I ate SEA WEED!!!!!! Haaaaaa……. It was so good……. I was like, dry, crunchy sea weed…… And along with rice,teriaki, a wee bit of pickled ginger, and tofu, it was a very delicious meal. It was probably the most exotic meal I’ve had too….. Pickled ginger is very, very strong, it tastes like a REALLY strong herb or something…… Everett, our friends' less then one-year old baby, was staring at the waitresses with his huge eyes……. SEA WEED!
I confess that, given the variety of ethnic food available in the very culturally diverse area in which we live, I was a little surprised that she'd never tried Japanese food before, but okay-- she's in for an adventure, and she seems up for it.
My family moved overseas when I was in middle school, and it changed our lives. For one thing, living in a foreign land can alter your perspective on what's relevant simply by expanding your frame of reference. This alteration continues in my life to this day: sometimes I find that, given my life experience, it's easier to grasp the implications of a certain international event, but more often, I'm left with the awareness of how little I know.
For example, I have a student who has left school a week early to travel with his family to Dubai and then on to the Sudan, where they are from. Just this morning, I heard a piece on the radio about violence in the Sudan as the date draws near when that country will be split in two, and South Sudan will become the newest country in the world. I don't even know which region my student's family is from, or where they will visit, or whether they supported splitting the country or not, but now, I really wish I did. Knowing Omar and his brother and parents has put a human face on this conflict for me, and that makes it relevant.