Tag Archives: culture

Fall Traditions: Decorating Pumpkins

A treasured fall/Halloween tradition in the United States is pumpkin carving or making “jack-o’-lanterns”. Whether this is your first time decorating a pumpkin or you are a seasoned pro, these videos have a few tips and ideas you may find helpful.

Safety note: If you are carving a pumpkin with the children, remember to be very careful with kids and sharp tools. You can purchase kid-safe pumpkin carving tools that cut without a sharp blade. If you don’t have those, let kids help with all of the tasks that don’t involve a knife such as: picking the pumpkin, scooping out the insides, choosing the design and adding any other decorative touches.

We will be having a Cluster Pumpkin Decorating Contest. To be entered, be sure to share pics of your fabulous creations on our Facebook/ WhatsApp group. Winner will be announced on Monday, November 2.

Find more fun on the APIA Fall Holidays Pinterest board.

Here are video readings of two of my favorite pumpkin stories.

Image: Jeff Kramer

World Hello Day is November 21

November 21, 2018 will be the 46th annual World Hello Day.  Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace.

World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973.  Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.

People around the world use the occasion of World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their concern for world peace.  Beginning with a simple greeting on World Hello Day, their activities send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts.

As a global event World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.  The World Hello Day web site address is http://www.worldhelloday.org.

Hints for Success – Overcoming Homesickness

Almost everyone experiences homesickness and culture shock to some degree, when they come to live in a completely new environment. So much is different and it takes time to adjust.

It is normal to miss your own family, at home. Try to remember that they support you and want you to make the most of this experience. They will enjoy learning more about the U.S., through your eyes, as you share your adventures with them.

Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try emailing instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and the vast majority of them get through it, stay and have a successful year (some even extend for a second year!) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place June 29-July 4 and July 6-9. 

The Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage. This year will be the 50th anniversary of this popular event. Attracting more than one million visitors yearly, the two-week long celebration is the largest annual cultural event in the United States.

The Festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between 7th and 12th Streets and inside the Arts & Industries Building. There is no admission charge. Visitors should dress for hot and humid weather. Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so visitors are advised to use public transportation. Smithsonian is the closest Metro station to the Festival site. L’Enfant Plaza, National Archives, and Federal Center stations are within a half-mile. For general Smithsonian visitor information, http://www.si.edu/Visit or call 202.633.1000 (voice).

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special events taking place most evenings beginning at 5:30 or 7 p.m. View the schedule here.

I highly recommend that you visit their website to plan your visit http://www.festival.si.edu/

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

Almost everyone experiences culture shock when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for
Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try emailing instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years.) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

 

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

Smithsonian Folk Life Festival

The Folklife Festival will take place June 29-July 4 and July 7-10. 

Smithsonian Folklife Festival imageThe Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage.  Attracting more than one million visitors yearly, the two-week long celebration is the largest annual cultural event in the United States.

The Festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Smithsonian museums. There is no admission charge. Visitors should dress for hot and humid weather. Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so visitors are advised to use public transportation. L’Enfant Plaza is the closest Metro station to the Festival site. National Archives, Smithsonian, and Federal Center stations are within a half-mile. For general Smithsonian visitor information, http://www.si.edu/Visit or call 202.633.1000 (voice).

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special events taking place most evenings beginning at 6:30 p.m. View the schedule here.

I highly recommend that you visit their website to plan your visit http://www.festival.si.edu/

November 21 is World Hello Day

 

November 21, 2014 will be the 42nd annual World Hello Day.  Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace.

World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973.  Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.

People around the world use the occasion of World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their concern for world peace.  Beginning with a simple greeting on World Hello Day, their activities send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts.

As a global event World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.  The World Hello Day web site address is http://www.worldhelloday.org.

Countdown Calender – Adventkalender

I wanted to share this special post written by an au pair in my cluster a few years ago. If you want to make an Advent calendar for your host child(ren) you should probably get started now.

A post by special guest blogger, Alex from Austria:

Countdown calender – Adventkalender

advent calendar

The Christmas countdown starts on December 1! :)
To make it sweeter, funnier and not that long for kids, we in Austria (guess so in Germany too) have an “Adventkalender.”  That is a calender with 24 little gifts (mostly sweets) and you can open one number every day till the 24th of December!

I always love that and my mom still buys one for me, so I want to share that tradition with my hostchild!

The easiest way is to go to the shop and buy a ready made one with small little chocolate treats, but of course it is more fun for the kids to get a homemade one! I did that this year and it was fun for me too!

  • I bought some sweets and small presents like a pen, warm socks, a cd or a toy (–> go to dollar tree, you can find cute stuff there and just for $1 ) and wrapped them into paper.
  • Then write the 24 numbers on the little gifts.
  • You can also make a number 25, but we in Austria open our presents on the 24th.
  • I pinned my packages on a big carton that we can hang the calender on the wall and decorated it!

I made a Christmas tree with all the packages under it and some stars, but you can make something else too. Maybe a snowman and the gifts all look like snowflakes or what about the crib with mary and the baby and the stars are the gifts.. Whatever you want! – be creative and make an awesome Adventkalender! :)

It is very easy and it does not take very long and I guess it is a really nice gift for my little girl!

Try it too, I bet the kids love it :)
Have fun and Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas)
Alex 🙂

May 5 – Cinco de mayo

Cinco de mayo commemorates the May 5, 1862 Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla) in which Mexican troops defeated Napoleon’s French forces. Contrary to popular belief in the U.S. , it is not the Mexican equivalent to our Fourth of July (Independence Day.) Cinco de mayo is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico.

If you want to celebrate with your host kids, you can find some activities and info about Mexico here.

Smithsonian Folk Life Festival on the National Mall in DC

festival04The Folklife Festival will take place June 30-July 4 and July 7-11.

The Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage.  Attracting more than one million visitors yearly, the two-week long celebration is the largest annual cultural event in the United States.

This year’s festival will celebrate Rhythm & Blues Music in the U.S., the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and the traditions of Colombia.

The Festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Smithsonian museums. There is no admission charge. Visitors should dress for hot and humid weather. Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so visitors are advised to use Metrorail. The Smithsonian station (Mall exit) is at the Festival site. Federal Triangle and National Archives stations are close by. For general Smithsonian visitor information, call 202.633.1000.

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with special events taking place most evenings.

I highly recommend that you visit their website to plan your visit http://www.festival.si.edu/