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Kalispell Public Schools
Kalispell, Montana

Students Tell Stories About International Travel To Encourage World Travel This Week

   It's meant as encouragement to go out and travel, not as an insult. But their green t-shirts with the words ‘Just Go Away, Go Global Glacier High School' are the unofficial theme of this year's International Education Week. Just Go Away is meant as encouragement to travel.

   As part of the week, on Thursday and Friday, student speakers from Turkey, Thailand, Germany and Spain told stories about foreign lands, travel and other cultures. Other students told stories about their international travel experience, all as a way to encourage a global perspective.

   According to lead organizer and language instructor Heidi Emerson, the week is about "promoting programs that prepare Americans for a global environment."

    This week at Glacier High School, they are reaching out to all students and staff to recognize and celebrate their efforts to study, learn and appreciate other languages and cultures.

  As part of International Education Week, foreign exchange students from Turkey, Germany, Thailand and Spain presented to language classes throughout the day.

   Here is a recap on three students presentations:

Anna, Nepal

Anna traveled to Nepal this past August after winning an American Field Service scholarship that is specifically designated for kids from Montana.

   Anna started out by explaining some of the unique and different things about Nepal:

  • It has the only flag that is not a rectangle.
  • There is an 11 hour, 45 min time difference.
  • Hindu and Buddhism are main religions.
  • It is a third world country
  • No traffic lights or signs or road lines in Katmandu
  • Power cuts are frequent in Nepal, where two hours each day there is no electricity, hot water or heat or Wi-Fi.
  • Anna learned the important rule in Nepal: Don’t eat it in Nepal unless it’s cooked or you can peel it.
  • There are no toilets—squat toilets, and she was grateful for plumbing in the United States.
  • The sacred animal is the cow and cows wander around the streets and villages.
  • Nepal’s caste system means that hereditary features determine your job and social status. While it was supposed to be illegal in 1965—there are 36 castes currently in Nepal.

   Perhaps the most memorable part of Anna’s trip was on the second day, when as Anna puts it, ‘is the day I discovered leeches.’ Because she arrived in the monsoon season, the wet weather often felt like it was raining leeches, a blood sucking worm common to Nepal that can chew through clothes.

   Trekking in Nepal was very similar to Montana but had more goats. However, without a national park system the big difference was that you hiked through small villages, some with as few as five houses per village.

   Because Nepal believes in freedom of religion, it is a sanctuary for many Tibetan people. Because Tibet was annexed by China in 1951, refugees fled to Nepal for religious freedom.

   Anna commented that English is a requisite and that because tourism is such an important industry, kids grow up in bilingual household and classrooms—half the day in English, half the day in Nepalese. Because of tourism, they must know English.

   Anna did some souvenir shopping and purchased bags that were made by women. The sale of these items is important for many women, who have arranged marriages as early as age 12 and therefore can’t complete their education. Because they can’t work for living, the handmade bags are their only means of support.

   There were other gender differences as well particularly when it came to interactions in public. “A girl should not touch another girl in public. Girls shouldn’t touch a guy either. But guys and guys are affectionate to each other, that’s just what they do.“

  Anna shared a Nepalese word: Namaste—which means ‘Hello’, especially when you add a prayer gesture because you can’t touch each other in Nepal.

   Global Prep Scholarship which is the scholarship program Anna traveled to Nepal with, has only requirement: that all applicants be from Montana. Aside from that prerequisite, the winners are selected on the strength of their essay. 34 applied last year from Glacier High School. The scholarship is available to all Montana high school students.

Abigail, Israel

Abigail is a French 3 and Spanish 1 student that presented on her trip to Israel. She started her presentation with some size comparisons: Israel is the same size as New Jersey and can fit into Montana 13 times. While smallest in Middle East, it has a large and fast growing population.

   Tel Aviv is the heart of Israel and the Silicon Valley of the Middle East as the economic and technological hub of Israel. Though it’s an established, newer city, it also has old artifacts and remnants that date back centuries upon centuries. This is the city that gave us many inventions including cherry tomatoes, a camera that is pill shaped and is used in medicine, the USB flash drive, drip irrigation and a host of medical breakthroughs.

   The Shuk/marketplace left a lasting impression for Abigail. The halls of the marketplace are lined with beans and bread. It’s high energy and crazy and you must be smart in this market. Merchants can tell you are American, and will inflate dramatically. Abigail mentioned a price of as much as $15 for a piece of bread. You need negotiation skills to survive in the Shuk.

   Jerusalem is the capital of the country of Israel, but also a city that is important in many world religions. There are 1,204 synagogues, 158 churches and 73 mosques in the city. Jerusalem is split into four quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, Christian. It is the holiest city in the world for Jewish people, because it is the site of their first temple and is the Jewish homeland. It is a historic city for other faiths as well: it was the place where Jesus was raised and prophet Mohammed walked through the streets in the Islamic religion.

   Abigail touched on some stops in Israel that made an impression on her:

  • Weeping Wall Ultra-Orthodox—there is a male and female side of Weeping Wall. Women can’t have ceremonial rituals on female side, although those rituals are allowed on the male side of the wall, on the female side you can only pray. The Weeping Wall is an ancient remaining part of the temple, the holiest place to be for the orthodox faith. People write prayers on pieces of paper and put it in the wall. If friend is going—give them note to place on Weeping Wall.
  • Dome of Rock, a temple and shrine for Islamic faiths. Only certain castes can visit, and you must cover hair to go inside.
  • Lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea. It’s so salty that there is no life in the Dead Sea.
  • 60% of Israel is covered by the desert, or negev in the Israeli language.

   Foods of Israel: Falafel, couscous, with spicy, vibrant flavors. Breakfast is large and extravagant. Abigail brought a McDonald’s menu to show that McFalafel was a fast food menu item in Israel.    

   Israeli word: Sababa—cool, awesome or chill.

   Abigail was very impressed with Haifa—a port city where everyone peacefully exists demonstrating that ultra orthodox and secular faiths can live side by side. Christians, Muslims, Bahai and Jewish all live together in harmony, proving that cultural extremes can live together. “That’s an important message for our current climate,” Abigail commented.

   Another city that Abigail spoke about was Sderot. In this city in the Gaza Strip, there are missile attacks there everyday. Kids must hide in bomb shelters and hide for the missile raids as a regular occurrence. So that kids can have a normal childhood experience, underground and indoor playgrounds were built so they could play, despite the ongoing violence. The playgrounds are also a bomb shelter. All kids are offered PTSD and counseling services.

Bright, Thailand

   “Bright” is her nickname, and this 10th grade exchange student from Thailand told her classmates a little bit about her home country.

   Her favorite things in her school at Thailand was that she makes lots of things with friends and teacher. Bright loves to be here because she gets to experience everything that is very different from her country. Start day with English, lots of fun. Head of cheer in Thailand, which is different than American cheerleading. Flag of Thailand.

   If you want to visit Bright recommended Northern Thailand for their beautiful architecture and the beaches in Southern South East, as they call it in Thailand. Bright commented on the experience,

   “It’s very different from here. The weather is very hot, here it is very, very cold for me.”

   She went on to mention their Thai people’s beloved King Bhumipol the Great who died this past October. This king was in Boston and was beloved because he considered his people like family. “He was king and a father of the country who wanted to do everything for his kids. He thought of everybody in Thailand like they were his kids.”

   Bright loves her host family. “They are very nice to me. They’re special friends for me.” She mentioned. She especially loved her first football game and visiting Glacier Park.

 

 





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