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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

April 15, 2005

No Man is an Island

Dear Colleagues,

Kids As you know, the tsunami that recently devastated Southern Asia abruptly robbed about 300,000 people of their lives. The repercussions to family members and communities are still being felt. It is hard to imagine such a tremendous loss.

All you have to do is find something good in each and every one of them and sincerely acknowledge what you have discovered.

Do we stick to our English teaching curriculum, not mentioning the catastrophe to our young student body, or do we deviate from our lesson plan and address it? At our English school, we chose to address it; we asked our students and their parents for contributions so we could offer some support in our own small way. Our goal in asking for contributions was two-fold. First, we truly wanted to help. And second, we wanted our students to think about how we are all related to people from other countries, no matter how close or far they live from us. This tsunami did not touch Japan's shores, but another one could. This tsunami has taught us that the world truly is a global community, and we all have to take care of each other.

We asked each of our students to contribute 100 yen. Some of the elementary school students came in with their own money, proudly dropping 100 yen coins into our collection jar. Some of them came in with brown envelopes filled with money from home, and some of the parents came to our office to make contributions. I am proud to report that Little America was able to collect 36,000 yen.

After we announced our collection total, I was surprised and moved when one of my Japanese staff members sent me the following email.

"Dear Helene,

I think as for tsunami contributions, Little America is a real international company, and it was a good chance for the students and their parents and even us to learn that we can do something and help the weak people if many people gather. I contributed only 100 yen for it , but it became 36,000 yen. As you said, team work is very important.

Thank you for giving me the chance to think about it.


I think this email reflects the sentiment some of our younger children may have felt but could not express in English. Our school asked its students for 100 yen each. We proudly sent a total of 36,000 yen to the Japanese Red Cross. When we looked at their website, we were amazed to discover that they had been able to collect 6,708,000,000 yen from the fine people of this country.

In closing, the British writer, John Donne, wrote in Meditations XVII:

"No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

I think our students were given a chance to think about this, and I think it was a good reason to deviate from our regular lessons. We do the best that we can in our own way.

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