West, Wafer Join Students in Lesson on Japan

BOSTON – In 1979, the City of Kyoto, Japan, graciously sent the City of Boston an authentic home as a gift for the 20th Anniversary of their Sister Cities Relationship. More than 30 years later, the 100-year-old house resides inside of the Boston Children’s Museum. The beautiful home served as the backdrop for the Celtics’ final Read to Achieve event of the season, sponsored by Kia Motors.

Guards Delonte West and Von Wafer joined 30 students from the King K-8 School to learn about the Japanese history and culture through reading and constructing Origami ornaments. Prior to the arrival of West and Wafer, the students were given a brief history of the Japanese House.

As a result, the first question that was asked after introductions of West and Wafer were made was, “What did you learn about the house we are in right now?”

A child named Madison was selected first and answered, “This house is 100 years old.”

“Wow. This is an old house,” said West.

“The floor is made out of straw,” chimed in another member of the group, Hector.

“Straw? That’s impressive. It’s really sturdy,” exclaimed West. “You all remember the story of Mem>The Three Little Pigs? The straw house was blown down but I don’t think that will happen with this floor. It’s pretty strong.”

Liza added on behalf of the group, “The house was brought from Japan piece-by-piece and rebuilt here.”

“The people who rebuilt this house did a good job,” remarked Wafer.

“It’s great to see how much you guys have learned about the Japanese House,” said Director of Community Relations Matt Meyersohn. “We are here for two things today. The first is to learn more about this house and the rich culture of Japan and the other is to focus on the importance of reading. The book we are going to read today ties into the conversation about Japan. We are about to read Grandfather’s Journey.”

Granfather’s Journey told the story of a young man from Japan. The man traveled to the United States and fell in love with the places he saw, especially California. He eventually returned to Japan, got married and raised a family, but he never forgot his love of California and thus moved back there for a time. His grandson, the narrator, follows in his path and understands the love of two places.

As the story came to a close, Meyersohn asked the students if they had any family who lived in another country. Serbia, Russia and Puerto Rico were a few of the answers and they could definitely relate to loving two places in the world.

The conversation flowed into the recent events of Japan.

“Do you guys know what happened to Japan recently?” asked Meyersohn.

“Japan was hit with an earthquake and then a tsunami,” answered a student.

Following the catastrophes, over a half-million people are displaced in Japan. To that extent, West and Wafer explored with the class different ways to help Japan. Some children suggested having a yard sale, a bake sale and hosting a car wash. Those were all formidable ideas and the students were encouraged to help Japan during this crisis. For the Celtics part, they made a donation to the American Red Cross to help shelter the displaced citizens of Japan and are encouraging fans to text “Red Cross” to 90999 to give $10 to the relief efforts.

With the discussion coming to a close, it was time for Origami. The students were going to make a Daruma, a good luck charm in Japan. The children were very excited and focused on the task at hand. West and Wafer moved around the room stopping to help as needed. The finished product served as a memento of the event that the children would never forget.

Before the children left the museum, West and Wafer wanted to leave them with a few thoughts.

“I just want you guys to know that time goes by so fast. Before you know it you will be in middle school, then high school,” said West. “Remember to always work hard. Don’t sell yourself short and you can do whatever you put your mind to. We know you guys are special kids and I hope to hear about the wonderful things you guys do with your lives.”

Wafer added, “I don’t want you guys to ever give up. Stay positive and obey your elders. Thanks for spending time with us today. I know I learned a lot about the Japanese culture and I hope you did too.”

From the looks of the children’s faces, they had learned a lot about Japan and would never forget it.