Wow! Today Greg and I were on for nearly four hours of cultural presentations. I talked about life in Hawaii, and Greg talked about life in Massachusetts. Every hour we got a brand new batch of students and we got to repeat our performance from earlier. Every time we finished talking, they asked a ton of questions. The questions ranged from our specialties, to our favorite sports teams, to what people in our states ate. They were curious 7th graders, shy at first, but growing bolder the longer we talked and spent time with each other.
I’m always shocked that people find the US fascinating. I don’t know why, I certainly find other countries and cultures fascinating, why wouldn’t people from other countries and cultures be equally curious about the States?
Then again, I guess it’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it? I live in the United States. To me, it’s NOT exotic, or strange (OK, it IS strange), or foreign. It’s my paradigm. To others though, it’s different. It’s this thing they see on TV, hear about in the news, or read about in a book. It’s as much a place of myth as it is of fact, with a ton of conflicting information (and misinformation) about it, all of it exciting and strange and new.
I get that. It’s the way I thought of Malaysia before I visited it, or any country, really. And, no matter how much I’d read and prepped myself for my travels, being there, and meeting someone from there, was completely different from anything I thought I knew before.
I don’t know why this seems like such a profound revelation to me. I guess it’s the purpose of the TGC program: to meet people from other places, work with them, live with them, learn from them, and share with them. All so that we can have a better understanding of each other’s place in the world, and how we can work that understanding into our classrooms.
I know I’m going to work harder on connecting my students to other cultures and places in the world. Even if it’s just communicating with another class in the continental US, the differences between the two states would seem like they’re vastly different countries. I will also try to keep in touch with my host community here in the Philippines and have our students co-produce some products!