What's going on here?

I've made a commitment: to do one good deed per day. Large or small, it doesn't matter. Self-sacrificing or not, extraordinary or mundane, it doesn't matter. Just one thing every day, that's all.

The more I do good, the better I feel about myself. Truly, to benefit others is to benefit yourself. I hope this journal may inspire others who also yearn to do good. So join me on this journey, if you will, and think about the difference you can make in your own life.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trash while carousing

Out for a goodbye party with my taiko group, weaving between the streets... oh, hey, there's some trash.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash while pub-crawling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Massive great big pile of PET bottle caps

I just got back from camp. We went through plenty of PET bottles, and guess who managed to save the caps?

ONE GOOD DEED: Recycle the camp's PET caps for charity--goes toward medicine for children in developing nations.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Volunteering at HEC Camp

From today till the 29th I will be volunteering at an English summer camp for junior high and senior high school students. HEC (Hokkaido English Challenge) is one of the best things I have done as a teacher here in Hokkaido, and I am happy that I can finish my time here with one final camp.

SIX DAYS OF GOOD DEEDS: Volunteer at an English camp.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last trash in Onishika

Today was my last class in Onishika (actually my last class, period). Once more, for old time's sake...

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash on the way to work.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Parting gifts for the adult class students

Today was the last class with the adult students. We had a party with lots of delicious food and drinks, goodbye speeches, and parting gifts. My students gave me a set of Japanese jinbei (sort of like pajamas), and a magnificent album with all their photos and parting messages.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give away parting gifts to my students.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trash and parties

So many goodbye parties! I'm about to collapse, but I'm also extremely happy. Tonight I partied with the folks that used to be in my office before they transferred away. I was so happy to hang with them one last time.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash between bars while hitting the nightlife.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drawing my friends' faces

When I mentioned the horrible failure of a monster of a portrait that I drew the other day, two more of my friends requested drawings. We drew each other and came up with hilarious results.

ONE GOOD DEED: Draw my friends' faces as a parting gift.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trash in Rumoi

After getting my haircut, I thought I'd hang out at the park and read for a while. Boy, did that place need a clean-up.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up trash at the park.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sharing my bounty

An adult student of mine has been throwing his garden's vegetables at me. I can't eat them all, so I brought them over to my neighbor's house and we had a nice vegetable salad.

ONE GOOD DEED: Share the fresh vegetables I was given.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dumpster diving for PET caps

Walking to the local convenience store... ooh, hey, there's a bunch of PET bottles in the trash bin outside the door. I can recycle those caps for medicine for chidren in the developing world! Gee, this is like dumpster-diving only... miniature.

ONE GOOD DEED: Collect PET bottle caps from a trash bin outside a convenience store.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books for the other kindergarten's library

I said goodbye to the other kindergarten today, and gave them English books for their library as a parting gift.

ONE GOOD DEED: Donate books to a kindergarten library.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A drawing for my friend

As a parting gift, my friend requested that I draw her face. I like drawing portraits, so I was happy to oblige. Unfortunately, the drawing went horribly awry! Arggh. It's the thought that counts?

ONE GOOD DEED: Draw my friend's portrait.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The race to end cancer

Support research to end cancer!

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for cancer research on Facebook.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More PETs at the beach

PET bottles, that is.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up PET bottles from the beach.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obira Shrine Festival

Today was my town's Shinto shrine festival. Every shrine has a festival once a year where the sacred objects are taken out and placed in an o-mikoshi, which looks something like the ark of the covenent. The o-mikoshi is then paraded around town on the shoulders of local men, accompanied by loud shouts and lots of sake.

The shrine festival is probably the single most important thing keeping Shinto alive in the hearts of the general public.

ONE GOOD DEED: Support my local shrine by playing taiko in its festival.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mad money at the kindergarten fundraiser

Onishika Kindergarten, which I just said goodbye to you yesterday, had a fundraiser tonight. There were games and food for small fees. I was happy to fill up on chicken-on-a-stick, soba noodles, chicken nuggets, and potato mochi, while playing mini-bowling and a superball lottery.

ONE GOOD DEED: Support the kindergarten by spending money at its summer fundraiser.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Books for the kindergarten library

I made my last visit to Onishika Kindergarten today. I will be returning to America next month to pursue a career in ESL teaching. The kindergarten kids were so cute--they gave me a picture of me that looked like Ernie from Sesame Street! It was a happy sayonara.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give English books to the kindergarten library as a parting gift.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Help a family adopt Ellie

This request was sent to me by Wendy over at Spread Change, a great site for good deeds. Her friends are trying to raise funds to aid their adoption of Ellie, an Ethiopian girl. You can read all about it here.

Wendy writes: "I'm recommending people do a "give up coffee for one day for Ellie" (and donate their Starbucks money for that day) or "cook dinner for Ellie" (invite 10 friends over for a meal and everyone chip in $5 for an Ellie donation). Just little things. We're all about the budget philanthropy over at Spread Change! Anything you can do to help would be great!"

ONE GOOD DEED: Spread the word about a friend's fundraiser, and donate.

Promoting my town

A Hokkaido travel guide by and for foreign teachers is being revamped. I was happy to write up all the little lovelies of my town.

ONE GOOD DEED: Promote my town in a Hokkaido travel guide.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Release Gaza aid ship!

On the 30th of last month, the Spirit of Humanity, a ship delivering aid to the Gaza strip, was abducted in international waters by Israeli forces. Its aid, including medicine, olive trees, and toys, were confiscated.

I have always found Israel's policy toward Palestinians loathesome, at least as much as the terrorist response it has inspired. Yet the question of U.S. censure of Israeli excess is a tricky one. Israel is our ally, it is a foothold in a region crucial to our energy needs, and it commands sympathy from many U.S. voters. Furthermore, it is doing nothing that we did not do in our nation's expansionist history. To do anything but support Israel would be a strategic blunder. To turn our back on them would be unthinkable--except for the tiny fact that it may be the right thing to do.

Realistically, due to the delicate nature of the situation, our president can only censure Israel in small ways. Perhaps this aid ship situation may be an opportunity to show America's growing disgust with Israeli aggression.

You can sign a petition requesting that the Obama administration demand the ship be released and its mission continued.

ONE GOOD DEED: Sign a petition for the release of the Gaza aid ship the Spirit of Humanity.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More PET bottles at the beach

But at least I didn't get sunburned this time. :-)

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up PET bottles after enjoying lunch at the beach.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Books for the library

The one vice I have truly indulged in these five years in Hokkaido: books. Amazon has been my drug dealer. I can't believe how many I have to ship home now.

With much pain and whining, I picked out the ones I didn't absolutely need. This ought to double the number of English-language books at the local library!

ONE GOOD DEED: Give books to the library.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Support the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009

Conflict minerals are raw materials mined in war zones. Many components of our cell phones and electronics--particularly tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold--come from the Congo, where rampaging militias use mineral revenues to support their campaigns. These militias are notorious for their use of forced child soldiers and rape as a weapon of terror.

The Congo Conflict Minerals Act is a senate bill that fights such trade. Among other things, it proposes that the US military publish a map of armed groups in mineral-rich areas of the Congo. This would make it easier for industries to avoid conflict minerals and trade only in those unstained by blood.

The bill includes the following measures:

· support for further investigations by the UN Group of Experts on Congo;
· mapping of which armed groups control key mines in eastern Congo;
· development of a U.S. government strategy to address conflict minerals;
· inclusion of information on the negative impact of mineral exploitation and trade on human rights in Congo in the annual human rights reports; and,
· guidance for companies to exercise due diligence.
(quoted from here)

Raise Hope for Congo, an Enough! campaign, provides an electronic form letter to urge your senator to cosponsor the bill.

ONE GOOD DEED: Urge my senator (after months of election dispute, at last Minnesota has a senator!) to cosponsor a bill to fight trade in conflict minerals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Broken glass at the kindergarten

Yikes! Better not let that stay there!

ONE GOOD DEED: Notice the broken glass lying outside the kindergarten before the kids do.

Everybody loves slugs

It had rained early this morning, so there were puddles around. On the way to work I came upon some elementary students marveling at a bunch of slugs. Some of them wanted to step on them or torture them, but I put an end to that.

Who knows if such simple life forms really experience "suffering"? Probably not so much. But what is certain is that we humans need to learn to respect other forms of life.
Being a teacher is not just about teaching your specialized subject, it's also about modeling good character.

ONE GOOD DEED: Encourage students to respect the lives of slugs.