Here at Little Pim, we’ve been keeping a close watch on the recent disaster in Japan. Our hearts are with everyone who has been affected by the recent earthquakes and tsunami. The magnitude of the tragedy may be obvious to us as parents, but it’s difficult to know what to say to your children, and how to explain it. We don't want to scare them, but we do want them to understand how we are all part of one interconnected world. This weekend, my family went to a festival organized by Stand With Japan, a new association of New York moms who set out to raise money for Save the Children's Japan fund. We took Emmett (six) and Adrian (three), to this family event that included a Japanese bake sale, origami making, and a koto recital (a beautiful Japanese string instrument that you can check out on YouTube).
Emmett had heard about the tsunami at school, and had also seen the wonderful movie Ponyo, about a boy and a half-fish half-girl who weather a tsunami in a small Japanese town. We had talked about the Japanese disaster a bit (one of his classmates is half Japanese and has family there), but I felt I hadn't done enough to help him understand how we could help our Japanese friends from right here in New York.
I think that an important part of raising “global citizens,” is helping our kids make connections between seemingly distant people and places and their own lives, which tend to be filled with very local preoccupations. In addition to giving kids the advantages of being able to communicate with people through speaking another language, it’s important to try and give them access and exposure to other cultures in any way you can. As adults, we sometimes forget that the interconnectedness of the world is not that obvious to children. We hear about Japan on a daily basis and understand both the human tragedy and its global implications, but young children need a helping hand to connect those dots. A cultural event like the one organized by Stand With Japan was great not only because we got to help raise money for relief efforts, but because it showed our boys several important things:
1. There are many Japanese people in our community – people directly connected to the same Japan that Emmett was told about in school.
2. Japan, and Japanese people, have a rich tradition they hadn’t seen before, from the costumes, to the food, tea rituals and music.
3. Most importantly, my kids were able to see how we can help people in the rest of the world though local efforts.
Although my boys aren’t quite ready for the delectable sushi that was on offer, through the sweet goodness of Sticky Buns and Red Bean cakes, they were transported for an hour or two into another culture, something I hope they will grow a taste for.
Q: Are there any local efforts for Japan that you can get involved in, or take your kids to? Have you gone to any already?
Take Action: Donate to the Save the Children Japan Earthquake Tsunami Relief