Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shirts and Caps

I spent four years in Japan, living there from July 1990 – July 1994. When I moved there (can’t believe it’s now more than 20 years ago), I worked in the public school system for my first year, teaching English to Japanese middle school kids. From there, I spent two years with a machine tool company and one with a magazine publisher.

One of the things I always noticed when I lived there was when school kids went on field trips. I don’t mean like going to baseball game or some other type of school function. I mean field trips where they would go sightseeing various temples for a day or possibly an overnight trip. It was hard to miss these kids.

Every one of them was wearing matching shirts, caps, and backpacks.

I always thought of it as being a good idea, though I didn’t remember doing the same when I was a kid. Also, I heard some parents in Japan complain about the costs of these items (particularly the backpacks, though these were obtained for school and they all happened to match). Still, as I saw a small number of teachers and chaperones herding a large number of kids, I couldn’t help but appreciate the safety aspect of it all.

I never imagined seeing anything like that here in the U.S.

And technically I still haven’t.

However, my older son recently went on his first overnight school trip for a music competition in Tennessee. I was thankful a little bit of safety. They bought three t-shirts, one for each day of the trip. They wore the shirts on a schedule that made sure all of the students were dressed the same each day. I’m sure it made life easier for the chaperones, though I’m sure it was still difficult keeping up with a bunch of teenagers. They didn’t have the caps and backpacks, but that was okay.

They all came home safe.

They even finished second in their musical competition.

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