Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
The collective energy that the fifteen students at TGS possess is remarkable. Somehow, the more places they go and things they do, the more energy they have! This has been proven many times, and one of them was this last weekend.
After returning from a four day trip that was both busy and educational, the level of energy of the group had somehow increased! They spent an incredible, activity-filled weekend without the TGS faculty (who were participating in off-site meetings). Instead, they spent Saturday and Sunday with me and the “baby-sitters” Sara and Eleonor, our Stockholm specialists.
Letting the students decide
When I woke up on Friday morning, I knew I needed to talk with Sara and Eleonor. I wasn’t sure what they had in store for us for the weekend. I knew we’d need food, so I started to plan for that day’s grocery shopping. The students were listening to a talk on HIV/AIDS by Taha Hirbod, Swedish local from the Center for Molecular Medicine at the Karolinska Institute, so I took that opportunity to run to the market.
I bumped into Sara, and she told me of her idea; perhaps the students should plan everything for the weekend! I thought to myself, “That might be quite hard for 13 year-olds to do,” but knowing that our students can handle pretty much anything, I just said, “That’s such a great idea!”
So off we went to lunch. We took the students to an Asian buffet, which they enjoyed a lot. After that we went to the public library. While there, we told them of our idea and divided them into four groups with a different time block to organize activities. They were also given a budget.
There were a few initial frustrations. It can be difficult for group leaders to gain their audiences’ attention. For me, observing them working in teams, collecting votes, and witnessing their respective activities was more than satisfying. All of them talked about choosing activities that wouldn’t be too expensive, some even giving their budget to other groups!
Friday’s student-led plans
Two of the groups had to organize events for Friday afternoon and evening. The first group chose playing soccer, which is free and fun, and they were able to donate their budget to the fourth group.
Adrian and Amidala picked up some snacks for the game. Since there were only two teams, the original idea of giving awards was dropped, which I think was very thoughtful of them! When we arrived at the field, there asked some boys already playing if they’d like to join our game. They turned out to be far better players than any of us, making it a very fun game! The students said they wanted to play soccer every week if they could in the Swedish winter.
The second group chose to go to the movies, which was a nice way to wind down for the evening.
At the end of the day, before saying goodnight, Sara and Eleonor introduced the idea of something called ‘checking-out’, in which everyone gets to talk about how they started the day, what they learned from the day, and what they appreciated about the day. This was a chance for everyone to have a turn to speak and also just listen. Most of the students mentioned that they learned a lot from organizing their activities and could relate to how hard it is to be adults.
Saturday’s student-led plans
The third group chose to go ice-skating! This was free, but what they did with their budget was very smart; they bought two big thermoses for storing hot chocolate! I could not go skating, as I had to clean up after the extravagant brunch that we, the baby-sitters, prepared with the help of some of the kids.[nggallery id=11]
The fourth group booked us at a Laserdome, a nearby laser tag arena. I thought that the team who organized this activity did a very good job. They had maps on their iPhones and led us to the Dome. It was my first time playing, and I was scared of the dark! By the end, you could tell by the sweat on my brow how much I enjoyed it.
The boundless energy of the kids keeps me going, too. It is such an inspiration, but I have a hard time making time for myself as an intern at TGS. This is especially important, as I work on finishing up college applications. I’ve learned that I have to pull myself out to get some rest or I will collapse. I wonder how the TGS kids are able to mingle with each other every day and stay ever active with all the events in their schedule. I really am in awe of every one of them!