From: Peter Rivard
Date: Thu Apr 24, 2003 Japan
To: Dad and Sue

Subject: cultural detail

     Just a note, maybe for comparison with stereotypes back home.

In this picture, the adult man is the father of the girl sitting next to him--one of my elementary school students--and of one of my junior high school students. Quite a few of my kids know who he is.
The funny thing is that almost all the kids who've looked at this picture (and two of the adults), whether they know the guy or not, immediately commented that he's scary looking. Maybe this is what bad guys look like in Japan. I think it might be the sunglasses--when my kids draw crooks, they usually put them in shades. On a sunny day, though, it doesn't seem so strange. And the guy seemed decent and polite enough in a short conversation.

     By the way, in another letter I mentioned the nine year old who'd memorized everything about me and, when I ran into after school, proceeded to guide me around her village and tell everyone everything about me--and then kept asking me to come to her house to play--that's the girl sitting down, Sayaka. The girl bowing is one of the wise-asses who tease me every time I come to school (which of course I enjoy and reciprocate). Very sweet kids.
Here she is with the rest of the "bad girls." They poke me in the belly and say, "It's soft." Last month the one on the left and the third from the left poked my in the butt and told me it was too big. Those two are also the ones who flashed me and asked, "Sexshy?" and "Pretty?" back when they were first graders. Very sweet kids,
and always entertaining. I'll miss them a lot, whereever I end up next year.

Love,

Peter

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