Many thanks to Keiko for inviting me as a guest to visit her first grade class at Izumi Elementary School in Osaka! I think I would be very happy returning to first grade again here. I would finally learn some Japanese writing, have amazing lunch everyday, get to take care of my own plant, and of course run around the school yard with some nice new friends! But in all serious, the education system of the Japanese primary school is very different than in the United States in one big way: students are taught and expected to work together but also be self-sufficient. For example, every student walks to school in the morning by meeting other kids from their area at a designated spot and then treking sometimes as long as 30 or 40 minutes- but without parents! This is true for students who are 5-6 years old and some even take public transit if they are in the city. This is possible because Japan is extremely safe, but also because the school does not want parents crowding and invading the learning environment (I think my mom still gets nightmares about the morning traffic around my high school). Students also all eat the same lunch, which they help serve to and eat with their fellow classmates. At the end of the day the students w0rk together to clean the school by sweeping the floors and wiping off the desks because there are no janitors to do this for them. Other lessons throughout the year include ironing, gardening, and other practical life tasks sprinkled between math and history lessons. These kids were the cutest and I was so happy to spend the day with them and see yet another way of learning and teaching. If there is anything that I have learned this entire year, it would be that education is the most valuable tool that exists, and everyone should have a right to a safe and supportive environment that gives them the recourses to grow. Once there is equal access to quality education, then we will be closest we can to world peace.