Friday, May 6, 2011

Authentic American Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today is a national holiday in Bulgaria: St. George's Day, or the day of the Bulgarian armed forces. Everyone named Georgi or Gergana has a name day today and from what I understand it's yet another day to eat lots of good food, drink, and hang out with family and friends. Exactly like pretty much every holiday we have back home. In honor of St. George everyone gets the day off, and since today is a Friday we have a long weekend. At my school, Monday is a holiday, too. We're celebrating the school's birthday (161 years old!) and also the day of European culture. Because I teach at a Foreign Language School, the day will be celebrated with decorated classrooms from every language studied by the students: English, German, French, Russian, Spanish and Bulgarian. I helped some of my students to decorate the "English culture" classroom. They were free to choose any city or country in the English-speaking world and they decided on San Francisco, which I am very proud of. They're transforming the room into a vintage cafe, with handmade posters featuring slogans such as "Make Love, Not War." Part of the event will include a charity bake sale, and I am going to bring American-style chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. Today I went over to my friend Dessy's house and we baked the cookies together, which was great because she already taught me how to make Bulgarian banitsa. Cultural exchange through dessert! How exciting! Another feature of the San Francisco room will be "street performers," aka some of our talented guitar players, and a "tourist information booth" where I will sit and answer questions about that lovely city. It should be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the reactions of other teachers and students when they see all of the hard work my students have put in.

On a completely unrelated note, talking about recent events with students has been a very interesting and eye-opening experience for me. Osama bin Laden's death is significant for them but also somewhat confusing. One thing I found shocking in their reactions was the belief that his death may have been a publicity stunt or had an element of conspiracy to it. Perhaps this is a cultural difference stemming from a lack of trust in government or something else completely. It definitely made me conscious of the fact that I am a foreigner and, to some extent, representative of the attitudes and actions of my home country. The celebratory patriotism displayed in New York and Washington is something I can relate to and that makes sense to me, even if I don't feel the need to do the same. But explaining it to students was somewhat difficult considering the sensitive subject matter. I plan on showing my older students excerpts from a documentary about 9/11 and discussing the US war on terror and what it means for global security. Hopefully this will result in a more illuminating discussion for all of us. 

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