All of the CMH Global Arts After School curricula are designed to teach cultural, social and artistic lessons via a selected art track. For the Anime track the country of focus is, naturally, Japan! To bring our students to a greater awareness of and empathy for all citizens of the world around them, we incorporate the learning of Anime and Manga drawing with cultural and social skills.
As with all of our classes, we begin with student introductions, asking each student to stand up and tell their peers things about their experience with this kind of art. Do they like to draw? What do they like to draw? After getting to know each other, it’s time to get to know their country of focus - Japan! Students learn that all of the islands in Japan put together are close in size to the state of California - learning facts like these helps Japan seem a little less foreign. So does learning that Japan is centered over a fault line. Our little Angelenos are always more than eager to answer when asked if they know another place that is prone to earthquakes! Learning things about Japanese geography shows our students the ways in which kids around the world are very similar to them and brings our students one step closer to being Global Citizens.
Like our Kenya track, the Japan course gives our students an introduction to the United Nations and its Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a document that details how children all over the world should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race, gender, language, religion, or any other difference. Students are taught that even though the UN has established this set of articles, children in many other countries still have limited access to information and suffer many other injustices. A very important part of being a Global Citizen is learning, reading news and being aware of what is going on with children around the world. If we don’t know about challenges children face, we can’t offer help!
Over the course of the semester, our kids learn and practice many aspects of Anime drawing. The first task is creating Kawaii “supercute” Manga characters. Manga is a unique style of drawing that emerged in Japanese comics in the 1940s and is still being used today! You can recognize Manga characters by their large, playful eyes, and they can be people, animals, fantasy creatures - even food! Once they have mastered drawing a character, students set their sights on creating a self portrait - no easy task, but one the students are always eager to tackle. We emphasize in all of our learning tracks that empathy is the most important part of being a Global Citizen, and immersing themselves in an aspect of Japanese culture and having a blast doing it gives students a deep connection to a foreign country that isn’t possible through traditional learning.
One very important topic covered during our Japan course is the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami that hit off the Tohoku coast, bringing much devastation to the region. Our kids learn of the immediate impact of the Tsunami and Earthquake and how the region continues to be affected over two years later. Keeping in mind the lessons they have learned about empathy, the students try to imagine what it must be like for kids their age living through the trauma and aftermath of this natural disaster.
It is safe to say that our launch of the Japan/Anime learning track in the Fall was a wild success! As with all of our courses, the students are taking in lessons about empathy and global citizenry that they will carry with them for a lifetime.
The CMH Team