Grandparents have a special place in our hearts. My grandparents immigrated from Japan in the early 20th century, lived through the Depression, the Internment, and postwar rebuilding. My mom’s mom – obaachan – was a talented, stoic lady, who glowed quiet wisdom and strength. She spoke Japanese to us grandkids, and we spoke broken Japanese and English to her.  Mostly, she communicated to us kids through her delicious apple pie and having potato chips for snack. 

In today’s rapidly changing global society, we meet today’s grandparents, share their wisdom and their hopes and dreams for their grandkids.  These are results from a small sample of grandparents of our students. All spoke their native language to their grandkids sprinkled with English and over half of them live overseas.

What do we call our grandparents?  English: grandpa, grandma. Japanese: Jiji ジジ ; Baba ババ-chan; Jiji じいじ; Baba ばあば; Hindi: Daadu, Daadi; Naanu ,Naani. 

Where were our grandparents born?   Canada: Cumberland, Steveston, Coquitlam; Japan: Hyogo-ken, Tokyo, Narita; India.  

Their native language?  English; Japanese; Hindi; Rajasthani; Punjabi.  

What do they feel about their grandkids learning Japanese language & culture?  

‘This is very important in that it helps them them better appreciate their mother’s culture and to speak with and appreciate their maternal grandparents. Any exposure to additional languages and cultures is good for the mental and emotional development of kids.’  ‘From my own experience, an understanding of place in family and history is a key part to gaining a positive sense of self. Understanding all their main background cultures – Japanese, Norwegian and British – is essential and language is a vehicle of learning.’ ‘We are very proud of our grandkids for continuing to learn our ancestral language and culture.’ ‘Feel good as Japanese culture is deeply rooted and rich in its heritage.’ ’孫が興味を示せば学べばよいが、強制はしたくない。日本語については、孫の意思を尊重したい。日本の文化については興味を持って学んで欲しい。

What do they feel is important about their grandkids’ education in general?

‘Japanese is very good to have but post-secondary education is also very important.’ ‘The coming generation faces a very different world than those before it. Population growth, environmental issues, globalization and popular reaction against all these make it hard to imagine the coming years will be as easy as the last half of the 20th century was. A positive sense of identity, an ability to think critically and strong learning skills will be more important than ever.’ all this while encouraging curiosity and an ability to work with others and independently.’ ‘Being an all-rounder and proficient in Math and English.’ ‘Studying hard and gaining confidence in life.’ ‘I hope they will continue to learn Japanese language and culture, and be a bridge between Japan and Canada.’ 色んな事にチャレンジすることで、孫の自由意志を尊重し、適性を伸ばしてやりたい。家族や友達や人々を大事にすること。子供の個性を見て、興味を持ったこと、得意なことを伸ばせる様にしたい。

What do they see is important for their grandkids when they grow up? 

We’d like to see our grandkids open-minded and compassionate, personally disciplined and confident, financially literate and community involved. Wherever they end up they will benefit from being culturally competent outside of their birth culture.’ ‘passionate – about their work, their “play” and the world they live in.’ ‘Should care about their health and well-being. Pursue what they are genuinely interested in. Being thankful for what they have.’ ‘Having a solid education should improve the chances of a better career and job satisfaction which will eventually help later in life. Also socializing with the right groups of friends/colleagues will pay dividends in life.’ ‘To be able to think and be responsible on their actions.’ ‘Cleanliness, Discipline, Values and being grateful.’教育も大事だけれど社会でのコミュニケーション能力が十分に備わっているかということも大事だと思う。

Thank you grandparents, for your honesty, wisdom, love and support.