Maggie outside for a visit to her favorite patch of grass. I settled for less than fashionable look. Glancing down at my feet encased in crisp white socks and stretched taught between my toes by the canvas of my flip flops, my mind tumbled backward in time.
These are the things I most remember about kindergarten: I remember my first few moments of my first day of school. It was warm and sunny. My mom walked with me to school and guided me toward an orderly line of children who waited along a well groomed hedge of privets. I remember how much fun I had talking with people. I'm told I was much more interested in socializing with my classmates than just about another other activity. I remember my very patient teacher and some very patient friends tying my shoes. Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree. Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me. Bunny ears, bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side beautiful and bold.
We each got to have a taste or two of some Japanese candy. We used a soroban (Japan's version of the abacus) to learn and practice a few basic math lessons. We looks at slides of trees, animals, and flowers and got a lesson about the natural world. My favorite was the slide of Mount Fuji. Mrs. Haag actually hiked up the mountain. How cool is that? I'd not yet seen a mountain--let alone a mountain in another country. It all seemed so exotic. So interesting. So exciting.
Simple images can sometimes trigger very complex memories. My shoes took me almost 35 years into the past to a particular day in Kindergarten. I remember my teacher clearly (or perhaps, I remember her clearly through the memorabilia saved by my parents). Mrs. Haag was someone very exotic and exciting in my young life.
|on my way to Kindergarten|
Most of all, I remember one very special day. Rather than coming dressed in the colorful polyester pant suits that were popular in the day, Mrs. Haag came to school wearing a kimono, geta shoes, and tabi socks. She talked about her summer in Japan while showing us slides of what she experienced on her vacation.
|waiting for class|
Mrs. Haag provided me first lesson on diversity. Before knowing about the culture wars, hearing fear peddled about people who are different, and before meeting someone who lived outside my home town, my kindergarten teacher helped nurture and stoke my curiosity about the larger world.
Since those first lessons I've studied with some of the greatest scholars in the world that focus on multicultural issues. While each of them had something special and important to teach me, none of them offered the powerful gift of Mrs. Haag.
How easy it is to forget that at the heart of diversity is curiosity. When we are able to open to the experience of another, and be open to the notion that each of us experiences the world differently, a richness can be found that no single viewpoint can expose.
Thank you Mrs. Haag. I'm so glad I thought of you last night while I was looking at my shoes while standing outside in the cold winter air.
|1st report card of the future Irreverent Psychologist|