Steve Remen

One day at Hilltop School, Yoko is practicing writing kanji (Chinese ideograms). Some of the kids see her doing this and ask her about it. Yoko tells them about how she goes to Japanese school on Saturday mornings and that she has just started to learn how to read and write kanji.

The kids are impressed that Yoko can write and understand the ideograms. They express their bewilderment of kanji, of how complicated it is, and how hard it must be to learn. Yoko tells them that it's not as hard as they think. That they should just think of kanji as if they are pictures.

Yoko writes the kanji for mountain, and then she draws a mountain to help illustrate her point. She tells them that Kanji is actually very fast to read, because you don't have to read from the start to the end of a word. You just have to look at the picture, and you instantly know what it means.

Like looking at a stop sign?


Yoko starts to illustrate an example of how kanji is read. She draws a simple icon of a boy. She asks the kids what it means. Timothy pipes up, "It's a boy."


Yoko then draws an icon of a happy face in front of the boy, "and what does it mean now?"

Happy boy?

Yoko responds, "Right. And now?" She draws a heart and then a girl next to the boy.

Uhhh... happy boy...heart... girl...

Happy boy likes girl!


Doris draws an arrow though the heart, "And what does it say NOW, Timothy?"

Uhh... Happy boy loves girl?


Doris makes kissy noises at Timothy. He blushes. The kids all giggle.

Mrs. Jenkins, who was watching at a distance, walks up and suggests that everyone should get into groups of four and make up a very short story and write it by using simple icons. The kids all love the idea and quickly get to it.

We WIPE to a series of short sequences of the kids writing their stories, having trouble coming up with icons, etc.

Mrs. J. rings the recess bell. She tells the class that they will present their stories after recess. All the kids file out of the room. Fritz walks up to Mrs. J., "Mrs. Jenkins?"

Mrs Jenkins
Yes, Fritz?

CUT to Yoko and the others exiting, all excited.

CUT back to Fritz and Mrs. J., "I think that's a wonderful idea, Fritz."

WIPE to the playground. Yoko notices that Fritz is missing and wonders where he is. Mrs. J. rings the bell, and the kids file towards the school.

Back in class, the kids tell their respective stories. It is an interactive experience, as the kid try to read each others stories.

After they are done, Mrs. J. tells everyone that Fritz has made a special 'thank you' card for Yoko, on behalf of the class. Fritz gives the big card to Yoko and she opens it. It has three icons written in it:

1) A cluster of the kid's faces (minus Yoko).
2) A big heart.
3) Yoko's face.

"Everybody... heart... me."

Fritz chimes in, "We like Yoko!" The kids all cheer as Yoko smiles a big smile. She thanks the class.

Mrs. Jenkins
No, thank you for teaching us about kanji.

Yoko looks back down at her card and smiles. P.O.V. shot of the card as we FADE OUT.


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