I was helping a group of international students who were new in the country. Many of them needed to go shopping and buy things they needed. I got the school van, and they all loaded in, and I took them to Wal-Mart. Many of them got things they needed, but not all of them, and some of them complained about the prices. Okay, so I tried the Dollar Store. It wasn’t as big, but it was cheaper. One of the Japanese boys told me he was looking for a blanket, but all the blankets he had seen were just too expensive, and he didn’t want to pay that much for a blanket. He needed a blanket. I didn’t want to see him get cold at night. I decided I needed to come up with another plan for him to get a blanket.
I decided to take the students to yard sales. I figured that they could find the things they needed cheaply, and surely that Japanese boy could find a second hand blanket. No one was selling second hand blankets that day. I took them to a free give away put on by a church thinking maybe there was a blanket there, but there was no blanket. That kid was going to get cold at night!
I was at home one day helping my daughters in their room. We were cleaning up. My youngest daughter was up on the top bunk bed, and she grabbed her pink Barbie blanket and threw it into the floor saying, “I hate this blanket! I hate pink! I hate Barbies! Why does everyone give me pink and Barbies?” My older daughter picked the blanket up and said, “I think we should we give it to Koh.” Koh was the Japanese boy. I told her that surely he wouldn’t want it because it was a pink Barbie blanket, but she insisted to ask him if he would take it, and I knew he needed a blanket. I thought perhaps we could dye it or cover it or something because he really did need a blanket.
The next time I saw the Japanese student, I mentioned it to him. He liked the idea. I explained that the blanket was a pink Barbie blanket, and perhaps he wanted us to try to dye it another color or cover it with something. He insisted it didn’t matter. He wanted the pink Barbie blanket just like it was. I went along with it, and we gave him the pink Barbie blanket.
It was summer, and the only students at the school then were the oriental students in the Welcome Program. The Americans were still on vacation. Koh, the Japanese student, loved the Barbie blanket! He thought it was a great joke! He was 19 years old and a guy. He thought no one would ever take him having a pink Barbie blanket seriously. He grabbed that Barbie blanket, wrapped it around his shoulders and went running down the hallways of the school. The other oriental students were completely amused by him. Everyone was laughing. They all got his joke. It seemed that the blanket being pink and made for a little girl wasn’t going to be a problem, but we were all wrong.
The American students showed up for school. Koh had the Barbie blanket on his bed. I really don’t know what happened, but Koh walked into my classroom one day with a bag, and he quietly slipped it under my desk. He said, “Maybe you should cover it or dye it. The American boys don’t understand.” I could tell that something crazy had happened from his demeanor, but I never asked him what those boys said or did. I just took the blanket and took a extra piece of cloth I had and sewed it over the blanket. His pink Barbie blanket was not so funny anymore. He got a blanket along with a dose of American culture.