About a week before her event, my friend Chika called me in a bit of a panic. Apparently the office she worked for was having an international event and their speaker suddenly had to move a week earlier than planned. Now they had something like 40 elementary schoolers coming to hear a presentation about America and no one to give the presentation. After checking my schedule, I told her I would be happy to help. It just so happened that I was going to be in Miyazaki City anyway, and would have the morning free.
I then had a week to prepare for the second most challenging presentation I’ve ever given: a 40 minute presentation about America, suitable for elementary schoolers, and all in Japanese. I was nervous about this presentation, but for different reasons than the presentation I gave about studying Japanese. I had never given such a long presentation in Japanese, nor do I work with elementary schoolers on a regular basis, other than reading to them at the library once a month.
I did the presentation twice. The first time was a group of first-third graders and their parents. The second was a group of fourth-sixth graders.
I’m honestly not sure how well the presentations went. The kids were pretty quiet throughout, as were the parents. I was nervous and I’m sure they could see that. After my presentation the kids worked on two “American Crafts” I had found. They made pinwheels and glue tissue paper to American and Missouri flags. They seemed to enjoy it and while I was walking around helping, some of them even asked me questions about America.
Probably my proudest moment was when I realized that I was actually understanding a large percentage of the little-kid-Japanese I was hearing. I couldn’t understand kids at all when I first moved here, so I’m clearly improving. Maybe one day I’ll be able to understand old-man-Japanese too. It’s an ambitious goal, I know, but I’m holding out hope.