Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cultures in a Jar

So, a month ago, the bilingual specialist (my co-coordinator) Mayte and I sent out volunteer forms for the elementary school's International Night. This event is the most-loved, best-attended event at school - usually over 500 people come to International Night. Our school has over 250 families from outside the US, and we try to have a table for each of those countries - but it all depends on volunteer parents. There are 7 choices on the form, from "Coordinate a table" to "Bring food" to "Wear traditional clothing from my country" to "I know a dance group from my country."
The volunteer table coordinator has to make a tri-fold poster about the country, come up with a stamp or sticker to mark the kids passports that night, make or purchase small samples of food, wear traditional clothing - and most importantly, contact and organize all the other volunteers for that country.
My job has been to process all the forms, input the names & contact info and create a spreadsheet and binder  of separate countries and volunteers. Then, pass this organized info on to all the country table coordinators, and stay in touch to be sure everyone is on target and on time. We have 29 countries represented this year, and a response trend emerged early on. Alpharetta is a big tech-job area, resulting in a size-able east Indian population. But, as in most school events, finding volunteers to coordinate or head up anything can be a challenge. We all have busy lives and varying abilities to Show Up and Lead. Here are my favorite responses, and some of the cultures in a jar:

  • East Indian responses: total: 31 - (our best response) 30% want to bring food, 60% want to wear traditional clothing and 90% know a dance group from their country. No one wants to run the table.
  • Mexican responses: total: 22 - (second best response) 10% want to wear traditional clothing, 90% want to bring food. No one wants to run the table.
  • Iranian responses: total: 4 - All 4 want to bring food, all 4 want to run the table.

I would call these generalizations, but they are Actual Responses and Rough Estimates - and they crack me up. Over the past month it's become a game with Rick & I. Mayte sends home an envelope of whatever forms were returned that day - I divide them into countries and hold them up for Rick to guess the responses. I am continually fascinated by cultural differences, and love this opportunity to see them in play, at our own school event!
In other updates - thank you for the well-wishes - and 10 points to Gryffindor! No wait, 10 points to Root Doctor-indor! Mom's tea tree oil steam treatments have won the day!
I did 7 treatments in 2 days, and cleared those sinuses right out. Now, it was not without issue, let me assure you. Isabella walked in after school, took a deep sniff and said "What smells like Gigee's house?" HA! Sorry Mom, you smell like ointment and oils! And, I discovered later, much to my chagrin (since I couldn't smell a thing!) that I smelled like a potent mix of antiseptic tea tree oil, peppermint (for the headache), and Vick's VapoRub (for whatever it would fix) - and wow! You wish you could get near me. :) Here's to warmer weather (though it's currently 32 in GA) and healthier households.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bethany, usually I'm a quiet browser but these are such funny, and I think profound, observations. I can see this as an informal test of trends in the assimilation process as well as telling observations about national character types. Very interesting indeed.



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