Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 51 - Strickly American - Peanut Butter and Yellow School Buses

One of the surprising things as host parents is that we learned more than what we taught our new sons and daughters from different countries. Two things we learned from both our students from Brazil and Germany [different continents] is that not everybody loves peanut butter.  Peanut butter is such an American thing I was shocked to learn the rest of the world didn't like PB&J sandwiches. Additionally the rest of the world has white school buses, yellow school buses are only in America. Of course we are the odd ball country that calls Futbol Soccer and have an American pastime of watching football.  The right thing to do for us was to learn about their countries too.  This is why it is called an exchange program.  They are young diplomats from their country and exchange just as many things about their country as we share about ours.  


We now can recognize the German Flag and know the only German golfer in the World Golf Hall of Fame.  We know the Brazilian flag and the currency called Reals.  One of the first things we realized when the kids came was how much The Wizard of Oz is a huge part of our English language in America.  When we would say phrases such as, "Follow the yellow brick road. Lions, Tigers, and Bears Oh my! The Wizard, the man behind the curtain. Flying Monkeys.  I will get you my little pretty. and Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." we would get the deer-in-the-headlights-look.  Neither of them were familiar with these sayings so we showed them the movie and from then they were able to get some of the jokes we were saying.  The second most significant show that has an effect on our American culture we realized was Seinfeld. Watching Seinfeld everyday on syndicated TV, the kids were able to get the jokes when we would say the phrases: "No soup for you! Master of your domain. Lowtalker. Regifting. Spongeworthy. The Big Salad. Not that there's anything wrong with that. and Hello Newman!"  The cast of Seinfeld put a name or phrase on things we did in America that we didn't talk about but just knew.  Through this the kids were able to get jokes their American friends would say.  

Many times they would come home and say, "Maam [that's their word for Mom for me] this kid in school said ....and they couldn't believe that I laughed too and knew what they were talking about.  Thank you for helping me understand."  It was such a pleasure to learn and relearn about our American culture by teaching them.  There were a few I couldn't quite explain when they both asked, "Why do you say that the Alarm goes off when it comes on?"  I would say, "I don't know we just do."  I have found this to be common across the board with all non-Americans.  I guess we are the only ones who say that the alarm goes off. Others say the alarm comes on.

We took them to Washington DC and they heard the meaning of latin phrases on our currency such as E Pluribus Unum meaning one nation from many.  We visited the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial among others.  We weren't able to scale the steps in the Washington Monument however, as it was closed due to high winds and extreme icy conditions.  If we had gone up to the top we still would not have seen the words on the aluminum cap, matter of fact nobody can see these hidden words Laus Deo.  These are significant in and of themselves but hold even more significance when we learn that a law was enacted at its completion in 1888 that states that no building shall be taller than the Washington Monument that peaks at 555 foot 5 1/8 inches. I just recently learned what Laus Deo means, it means Praise God.  The other three sides hold the names of the people who were instrumental in building, designing and erecting the monument.  Pierre Charles l'Enfant was a french born man who came to American and joined the US Army as an architect and engineer.  He designed Washington's city layout and the place for the Washington monument, right in the center of the city. By climbing to the top you can see his magnificent design from this centralized high tower.

As Americans we are taught to think that we are also the center of the earth.  When we reach out and make global friends we realize how small the world really is.  Most of us only know a few things about other countries including such facts as Germany is known for chocolate and Bravarian Oktoberfests with  lots of beer and Brazil is known for their famous Mardi Gras parade and the Rio de Janiero's statue of Jesus.  The famous statue stands high overlooking the city just like the Washington monument overlooks Washington DC. 


My bucket list includes going to Germany and climbing to the top of a castle and going to the famous statue of Jesus in Brazil.  Before this I plan on returning to Washington to climb the stairs to the top of the Washington monument.  When I get there (after I catch my breath) I will look out the windows at all the yellow school buses taking the kids to school. And I'll praise God that they have PB&J sandwiches to eat for lunch.  




“Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.” ~Peanuts character Charlie Brown

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