Many Japanese live by a tenet known as Wa. Essentially, Wa dictates that the individual puts the good of community before individual needs. While visiting Japan in 2000 as part of the Toyota International Teacher Program, I was impressed–again and again–with the overt and subtle ways that the people I met displayed empathy for their neighbors, colleagues, and this gangly foreigner. The spirit of Wa seemed most palpable in the city of Hiroshima, a kinectic, eclectic city that has become a worldwide center for peace education. It was in Hiroshima were I first learned to fold paper cranes.
While watching the recent tragedies unfold in Japan, I wanted to do something that would allow the Beaver community to show a collective sign of solidarity for the Japanese people. In other words, I wanted to bring a little more Wa to Beaver. On Thursday, May 12–with the help of the students in my English classes–I taught the school to fold cranes and shared with them the world-famous story of Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. I challenged the community to fold as many cranes as possible in one week. We’re not done counting these cranes (and hopefully we’re not done folding them either), but as of last count we’ve folded 3,000+ cranes. In collaboration with other groups across the nation, we’re now working on creative ways to translate these cranes into monetary donations to the Japan Relief Effort.
Robin Neal is an upper school English teacher at Beaver.
Top photo: Robin Neal and his English students with paper cranes