Sadly as a mother of a child who was obsessed with everything High School Musical, I can't help but think of one of the movie's theme songs lately when I look at the school my kids attend.
It has been amazing to watch the relief efforts that have been put forth by our school, Canadian Academy. I have always been very happy with the school on an educational level, but what has really wowed me the past month is how the whole school -- students, staff, administration, parents, and even alum-- has come together to help with the crisis. Everyone is on the same page with the same goal in mind and the students especially, have come up with some creative ways to help raise money and get supplies.
The students have been busy collecting rice, which as we all know is a staple in the Japanese diet. They also have been busy preparing Tasuki Bags, which are gifts bags put together on a more personal level. These bags include clothes for someone the same age and size, toiletries, a personal note, and some goodies. Something small that one can keep by their "bedside".
The students have also been creative in how they are raising financial donations. Sport clinics where the registration fee all goes to the earthquake fund, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments with teachers versus students, walk-a-thons, bake sales, selling of wristbands, t-shirts, and crafts. Kids giving their allowance money or offering to sell their own items just to send money up North. The most recent idea is an auction, where students and teachers are offering services or goods. A teacher offering to shave his head, students donating their senior privileges or being errand boy for a week, teachers delivering smoothies and lunch daily, are just a few of the items up for auction.
This past Saturday the school held their annual International Food Day, where the PTA sponsored a relief booth, which was manned by high school students. At this booth free water was passed out, people were given the opportunity to write messages to the victims, wristbands, t-shirts and crafts were for sale, and straight donations were accepted. In three hours, ¥215,000 was raised. (Over $2500 USD) The PTA then matched this amount, sending almost ¥500,000 to the earthquake fund (Over $5000 USD).
Alumni have also stepped up with some ideas of their own. Music being sold on itunes, jewelry being made in Arizona, and classrooms folding paper cranes, are just a few of the things being done. Teachers are collecting and repairing bikes to be taken up North. Everyone wants to help in some way.
At the end of our assignment and we pack our bags to leave Japan, it isn't the educational things, like trigonometry or the ability to create podcasts, that will have made the most impact on my children. It will be my kids learning that no matter where you are from, how smart you are, or what your background may be, everyone can come together and make a difference. That things don't have to have huge "wow factors", rather every little thing counts. People matter and they can make a difference, whether they think so or not.