The English textbook in my school has an entire lesson on Martin Luther King Jr. and some of the things he did. For that class I showed different parts of the “I Have a Dream” speech and explained it to the students with the help of the third grade teacher Mr. Fudo. I showed different scenes, like church bombings and people being hosed. I had to explain that hoses sprayed at 700 pounds (about 1500 kg) of pressure (enough to strip the bark off a tree!!). I also went through some history of slavery in America…when and how it started, why it lasted, and when it ended.
One of my students had enough drive and was inquisitive enough to ask me questions about my lesson on Martin Luther King Jr.. I taught two classes before this class and when I asked if anyone had questions and told them that they could ask the questions in Japanese, all I got were blank stares. Even the third class seemed to be heading in the same direction until one little girl decided that she needed to know more. Her first question was “Are things better in America now?” Difficult question, but I answered as best I could from my own experiences and from what I’ve seen in New York City. They are better, but not perfect. We have a long way to go. She also asked me about Martin Luther King’s children and what they are doing now…my answer…I have no clue. She then asked me why he was shot. I told her that many people did not like him because he wanted people to be equal.
It was just nice to see that I reached at least one student. I could see her still thinking about the questions even after she stopped asking them. Many of the other students were listening intensely and paying attention during the lesson but none had the courage to ask a question except one. I was truly grateful for that because not only did it brighten up my day it made me feel like I gave the students something that they could not get without me being here. So my next goal is to introduce the children to Bob Marley. Ganbarimasu!