I visited Ban 9 school for the first time last summer when I had a chance to meet them, and I have continued to be involved with them since then! The school has often held exchange meetings with Japanese children and seniors, so at this meeting we mainly talked about the exchange meetings.
The headmaster said, ‘The children didn’t know where Japan was located or what kind of country Japan was. After the exchange meeting, the children asked me, where is Japan? What kind of country is it? Is shiori (I) Japanese? They asked me a lot of questions about Japan”.
I didn’t know that the children didn’t know I was Japanese, even though I had always taught them a bit of Japanese.
I was surprised that they had played with me until now without knowing I was Japanese.
Usually when I interact with people, I think it is almost impossible for them to see me without labelling anything to the person in front of them, or for them to see me as myself without labelling anything, so I was happy that they had genuinely engaged with me as a person without even labelling me as Japanese (^^).
The children taught me some new games, we all had a snack together, “See you later!” and we parted (^^)
We plan to continue this exchange meeting between the school and Japan, so if your organisation is interested in meeting with Thai immigrant children, we would be very happy to hear from you!