Kali Routier: Kindergarten Volunteer

My CIP was at a kindergarten close to Doshisha campus. Every week I would go to the kindergarten and have lunch with the children, after I would usually play with them outside or do other various activities until it was time for them to go home. The staff consisted of 2 teachers, 3 office workers the director and several volunteers like myself. There were 2 classrooms, one with older children that were about 5 or 6 and another classroom, which was my classroom,  with children that were around 4. 

At the kindergarten, I was able to observe how children interact within Japanese society; one interesting thing I noticed was how the children only used short form; there were several times I would use desu and masu form and sometimes they wouldn’t understand. Also, being able to observe lunch was quite fascinating, as there was an effort to have everyone eating the same thing. A sense of unity is created in the sense that everyone is equal to each other, even the teachers. In America it’s quite different; children eat what their families packed for them which usually ends up being different from everyone else. In Japan the kindergarten makes the lunches for the children and the teachers so that everyone can eat the same thing and no one feels excluded or different.

Even though in the beginning I was very nervous, I’m so happy I was able to have this experience and grow from it. I was able to observe children learning their own culture and through the kindergarten I was able to see a part of Japanese society I wouldn’t normally have access to. The number one thing that helped make my CIP successful was that I actively put in the effort to be involved. In the beginning I was a little awkward because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing. But at times like that the best thing to do is just ask someone if you can help with anything. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and if you don’t understand something just ask. Volunteering at the kindergarten was a unique experience I’m happy I was able to do, it helped me grow and understand Japanese society better as a whole. 

6 thoughts on “Kali Routier: Kindergarten Volunteer

  1. I’m glad to hear that you had such a positive experience volunteering at the Kindergarten! Working with kids is tough enough in english, let alone in Japanese. It’s really interesting to hear that everyone eats the same thing at lunch, and I wonder what it would be like if American school systems also followed that system. Good job putting yourself out there and not being afraid to take a risk!

    • Working at the kindergarten was definitely tough, probably one of the toughest things I’ve done and that’s really because of my lack of vocabulary. But, I’m really happy I was able to experience it. Yeah I did find the same lunch thing very interesting, if schools in America followed that system I wonder what would change.

    • Thank for the comment! Working at the kindergarten was absolutely difficult, but that mainly had to do with my lack of vocabulary. Other than that everything was really nice; there were so many things that I found interesting the lunch was just one thing. I also wonder if American systems used this method if our society would be different.

  2. It’s interesting to hear about your experience seeing as you worked with little kids as well but in a different context! Do you feel like you were able to create a bond with the kids or the staff members during your time at this CIP?

    • My experience was really awesome, I feel like I got to see a side of Japanese society I never would have gotten to see otherwise. In the beginning it was hard, but by the end of it I think I was able to bond with the kids more so than the adults. I think that’s just because I was always playing with the kids and there was less of a barrier there.

    • Thanks for the comment! Yeah the whole experience was really interesting, and at the beginning it was hard but I think I managed to make some bonds with the kids. I was always playing with them and because there was less of a barrier I think I was able to get closer to the kids than the staff members. But that also had to do with my lack of vocabulary.