Friday, October 26, 2007

Cultural Differences

I have been here for six years. Sometimes, it feels like home--most days now. Then there are the days when I really feel like an outsider. Today, for instance.
A kita trip to the Aquarium: 15 three-year-olds and two teachers.
Back home that trip would involve parent helpers, a rented bus and a packed snack. Here, it means a small argument ( on my part) to accompany the group, a 30-minute walk to the subway, several flights of stairs, in and out of the subway, a subway ride of 30 minutes and a provided snack of hot dogs and cucumber pieces -- all chokable, by the way. I won't even mention the teacher to child ratio--that's why I went in the first place.
Now, I try to be open minded. I try to acknowledge the cultural differences, and even embrace them (I like a good wurst, just like the next guy). But, I'm the only parent who thought walking a group of preschoolers all day, up and down hills and stairs, past endless fish tanks, and then dragging them all, half asleep, back on the subway for a return trip, was not only dangerous, but cruel.
Will the kids remember the exciting sharks and sting rays or will the memory be of walking and walking, until you thought you would fall asleep while your feet still scuffed the cobblestones?
You can bet I'll be going on the next trip, too. The firestation. I wonder if they make them fight a fire while they are there?

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