Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have done Thanksgiving lessons all week in school, which has been fun. Teaching them about traditional American foods like cranberries (the German word is "Cranberries"), squash (they call all squash pumpkin), and turkey. I made a crossword puzzle where the clue was "American wild bird" and two kids asked me if it was "eagle". I guess I didn't really specify that I was looking for a bird eaten at Thanksgiving time... We also talked about the history of the holiday and its significance for American Indians, and Black Friday and what Thanksgiving means for retailers.

This was actually a really revealing point, I think, because it demonstrates the two totally different approaches to the "capitalism vs tradition" debate. In France and Germany it is totally regulated so that employees wouldn't have to work on a holiday, especially not at the ungodly hours stores open in the US! I found a really interesting New York Times article about opening times, in which the author quotes the spokesman for Best Buy, who decided to not open doors until 5:00 a.m. in the spirit of the holiday. Click here if you're interested in reading the article.

Anyways, one of the best things about going abroad is that you are able to analyze your culture, your country from a kind of outsider perspective. I definitely see both sides of this argument, but I have to say it's rather nice (once you get used to it) that everything is closed here for holidays, and on Sundays. It really is more of a family day, and I think that gets lost sometimes.

When I told one little girl that my family is all together in the US today, she asked me "Sprechen sie Englisch?" Cute! Yes, my family speaks English. :)

Outside of school I have been doing some really cool things lately. Sunday I went to a movie filmed in the ruins of post-war Berlin (1947/1948, and everything was still a total mess!). It was incredible. If you have never seen pictures of what Germany looked like after the war you should really google it. It's unbelievable what they had to rebuild. But anyways, the movie was called Germania Anno Zero, centered on this postwar starting-over for Germans who survived the war.

Monday I went to the University library and got a library card, checked out some books and just sat in the reading room for a while and read. I miss being on a university campus...Monday evening I went to a lecture in France called La Sarre depuis 1945, about the Saarland region after the war. This is the building the conference was in:

I literally walked past the building, thought "That can't be it" and then had to turn back. I think we sat in the main governmental senate or whatever room for the local Sarreguemines (the French town across the border) government. There were about a hundred people there, and a German professor from the University of the Saarland delivered the lecture sponsored by both cities' community colleges.

Tuesday I went to the movie Yella, and last night I went to a German comedy that was juuuust about worth the two-euro-eighty I paid to get in. :) But somehow it's easier to justify seeing bad movies when you know you probably learned a new word or something.

Tonight is the first night of our Weihnachtsmarkt, the beautiful German Christmas markets! So that will take my mind off not being with my dear family for Thanksgiving...and this weekend I am going to celebrate with some American friends, so I'll get my cranberries sooner or later!

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