02 April, 2015

That tricky "home" concept again!

While sprawled out in our lounge room the other day one of my sons said, "No long till we go home now."

Yep, 'home' is a tricky concept in our lives now.
Our local train station. Between 8 and 8.30 on school days
there are many CAJ students walking just here.

Yes it's good to be in Australia. But it is no longer 100% home for us. Neither is Japan, by the way! Now that's a little difficult to fathom if you haven't lived this lifestyle. If you've followed this blog any distance, you'll know it is a theme that comes out every now and then (see here).

Japan is more home to our boys than Australia than it is for us. They've grown up there, but we grew up here.

I had a conversation about this with a friend from uni days a couple of weeks ago. It was hard to define why, for our boys, Japan is more home than Australia, except to say that we've spent more time there than here in the last 14 years. That's the place they know better, even if they aren't totally integrated into Japanese society. In some ways the school they attend in Japan probably comes close to defining home for them. Strange, I know, but that is the case for many of the students at the school.
"Knights Castle" the CAJ playground where students love to
hang out, even big ones!

This was highlighted for me as I read this in the weekly newsletter from our boys' Australian school today:
Parents are asked to remind their students that they must depart the College immediately after the last bus leaves (except for College organised co-curricular activities) whether by foot, bus, parent or other transport.
It is a school very much built upon bus transport and the rest of the students usually get picked up by car. Probably quite a typical Australian school. You attend there during school hours, but don't hang around unnecessarily outside of that.

A bit of a dodgy photo, but this is the CAJ "oval". A place you'll find many concurrent games of soccer after school.
CAJ, our boys' Japan school, has a very different school culture. Many students use public transport, mostly trains. The school is only five minutes walk from the train station. Many others ride bikes or walk. Only a few are brought by car. But it is the before and after school culture that is even more noticeably different.

School finishes at 3.30 for everyone. I had to bribe my boys with afternoon tea to be home by 4.30 (they walked by themselves). Students typically hang out at school in the playground at all sorts of times, including weekends. It is not just their place of education, it is where they socialise and feel "at home".

It is also a place where parents feel welcome (though ID lanyards are required). We use the library, attend prayer meetings, and even just socialise on campus. Often there are out-of-school hours events like inter school sport and concerts too. Especially at the sports events there is main meal food provided for sale (fundraising for the Senior project) and sometimes that's where the Marshalls have our evening meal.

I can only give you a glimpse of the place our boys most identify as "home", you'd have to visit for a few days to get a better feel for it. Strange that it would be a school, but at least they feel they belong somewhere.

Here is another missionary writing about home, and how the whole concept of home gets messed up for us adults too.

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