Posted by: skyward | July 23, 2008

Between Two Worlds

There she was, dressed in her Sunday best (a silky blouse and a dark-brown pant suit –I vividly recall), sitting stiffly, surrounded by bright-looking students from all over the city. 

That fifth-grader with a ponytail was me.  Reflecting upon the “Spirit” –The Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh’s award-winning memoir depicting his conquest of the air– brings me back the sights and smells of that winter afternoon at an award ceremony.  I had won an award for my essay exploring the book.  (Precisely speaking, it wasn’t the “Spirit”; the Japanese title was “Wings, Those are the Lights of Paris.”  The translator writes, somewhat proudly, that those must be the words that came to the aviator’s mind as he approached his destination, in his silver monoplane glistening in the sea of lights.  It would have been better, I personally believe, to keep the original title chosen by the aviator himself. )  Looking back, I am awed by the fact that I now call Lindbergh’s homeland my own home, and enjoy my beloved book with my boy in the original language.  And he even finds reading in English easier.

Daniel’s childhood is (and will be) different from mine, in countless ways.  Quite different, I must say.  No matter what, I believe it is wonderful that my son has been growing up bilingual and bicultural, from the very beginning.  (I add the word, “very”, fondly remembering those days when I used to talk to him in both languages, often interchangebly, while he was still a penut-like figure within me.)  Now soon-to-be-a-second-grader, my half-Japanese, half-American son efforlessly shifts back and forth between the two languages and the two worlds.  Yet, despite his fluency in Japanese, Daniel inevitably considers English his mother tongue.  Unfortunately, his reading and writing skills in Japanese aren’t as strong.  That helps explain why we launched our English blog before the Japanese version.  There have been some (inner) struggles along the way.

Before embarking on the project, I did feel somewhat unease about introducing my seven-year-old to the Internet community.  I repeatedly asked myself: Isn’t it something that could wait for a few more years, at least, or possibly much longer?  Aren’t there many more “meaningful” activities he should be engaged in, instead of facing the computer screen?  Then, after much contemplation, I concluded: After all, the Internet (or the computer itself, for that matter) is nothing but a tool, which can turn out to be extremely powerful, depending on how one uses it.  The summer gives us a great opportunity to tackle a project.  Daniel is not a kind of boy who would willingly sit at the desk for a long stretch of time, working on a math sheet.  Taking full advantage of the time allowed until September, why don’t we plunge into an educational but also fun project, further pursuing our mutual interest in aviation and our hero’s legacy?  The idea for these blogs was born that way.

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