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Cultures “


Arts Center. Ning was fascinated with the number of dishes used at a meal in America. “In China, they use one bowl,” Ning said. “Here, they have one plate for the main dish, another plate for salad, a plate for bread, a plate for butter, and another plate for cake.”


“A meal takes about 10 plates and fi ve spoons,” Andrea said, “because they have so many sweets.” “American people enjoy their desserts very much,” Ning said. “In China, we don’t have sweets after every meal.”


However, Ning did enjoy going to Braum’s and Cherry Berry on a regular basis.


“Every night after dinner, we must go to Braum’s,” Ning said. “It’s so wonderful!” Part of learning the culture of another country is trying the food.


“When I came here, I tried everything,” Andrea said. “What I really like here is the catfi sh.” Floriana had trouble adjusting to American


food.


“In Italy, especially where I come from,” Flori- ana said, “everything is homemade.” Every family has their own garden and animals with fresh milk, cheese and meat. They also buy bread fresh from the bakery every morning. She has, however, learned to like some American foods, especially Doritos, Mountain Dew and Kentucky Fried Chicken.


For Maria, the biggest adjustment was the meal schedule. In Spain, they have breakfast at 7:30 a.m., lunch at 3:30 p.m. and dinner at 9:00 p.m.


“It’s going to be hard when I get back home,” Maria said. “I’ll have to wait until 9:00 to eat!” Maria did enjoy the fact that pizza was on the


menu in the Groom household at least once a week. In Spain, she ate her favorite food only three times a year. She also discovered burritos in Oklahoma, a new favorite food. There are no Mexican restaurants in Spain, she said. Andrea and Ning were amazed at how fast Americans eat.


“In China, we eat very slowly,” Ning said. Andrea said that in her home it takes up to three hours to eat lunch, the main meal of the day. They eat, talk about the events of the day and even play cards.


“We enjoy our food,” Andrea said. Another adjustment the students had to make was the lack of public transportation. “I don’t like that I have to depend on people to go places,” Maria said.


In Spain, she could hop on a bus at any time and go where she wanted.


In spite of the adjustments they had to make, all the students enjoyed their visit. “Two things made me very happy,” Ning said. For her 18th birthday, she got her ears pierced and wore high heel shoes. She also made her fi rst grown-up decision: she got baptized. Although her grandmother is Buddhist, her father told her it was her decision to make. “My parents are very proud I was baptized,” Ning said.


Cultural Exchange


Learning about another culture is a shared ex- perience.


“When you host an exchange student,” Med- lock said, “you kind of travel to another country.” One way the students share their culture is by cooking for their host families. Floriana made


When you host an exchange student you kind of travel to another country. It was a good experience for my own children to meet someone from another country. It enriched their lives. They understand the world a little more. - Brenda Medlock, Exchange Student Coordinator, Council for Educational Travel, USA





spaghetti sauce and pizza crust from scratch. Ning cooked a dish made of rice, tomatoes, eggs and carrots. Maria baked a Roscon de Reyes cake. She not only shared the cake with her host fam- ily, but also with the children who attended Chil- dren’s Hour at the Skiatook library. “It was a good experience for my own chil- dren to meet someone from another country,” Medlock said. “It enriched their lives. They un- derstand the world a little more, and they have a friend from another country that they talk to on Facebook.”


All the students said they would go home with good memories of Oklahoma and its people. The members of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Ning attended with Magrini, made her a special cake on her birthday and sang to her. They hugged her every time she went to church. “In China, only handshakes. No hugs,” Ning said. “Here, I feel really loved. The people are so friendly.”


Andrea liked how Oklahoma people are help- ful. One night, the girls accidently set off the alarm when Magrini wasn’t home.


“The police came very quickly,” Andrea said. “In my country, it takes forever.” Maria liked the schools here.


“The teachers are more like friends,” she said. “They let you talk, and they tell you stories of their lives.”


What the students and host families value most from the experience is the relationships that develop between them. Magrini does many things that remind Andrea of her favorite grand- mother who died when she was young. She said it’s like having her grandma back.


said.


“We have a very special relationship,” Magrini Continued on Page 16


AUGUST 2012 15


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