Wry Exchange

I’m Alive. Happy Thanksgiving
11-28-08, 12:18 am
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Hi.  Miss me?  I was appointed as our outgoing students’ coordinator last month.  We held their interviews this weekend. We interviewed 30, and I think all but 3 will be accepted.   In that month, I set a date, time, and location for interviews.  I rounded up 35 people to interview the potentials, and a few other people to assist with registration.  I had to set up an email list for the volunteers from scratch, and try to help our current students abroad.  All without losing my sanity.

I’m out of the habit of writing now.  I must start again.  I’ve been answering emails from students around the world.  This is a hard time of year for FESs.   In the Southern Hemisphere, students are graduating, and they’re on Summer break.   Up North, the days are short.  Most students are homesick and a bit lost this time of year.  If you know a FES, give her a hug.

I sent quick notes to my kids.  One was watching the Macy’s parade on her laptop.  Her family turned their webcam to the TV.  Several shopped for traditional Thanksgiving ingredients to cook for their host families.  In many places, that’s not an easy task.  Some of the lucky ones went to group Thanksgiving dinners for FESs and expats.  Last year, I had to buy a pyrex pie plate to make pumpkin pie.  I brought the canned pumpkin with me to Bolivia.  In the past, I’ve made chocolate chip cookies without a cookie sheet-we used some type of drip pan for the broiler.  We’ve made brownies in iron skillets.   They may not be pretty, but when you’re far from home, chocolate tastes GOOD.


Racist Toddlers?
07-09-08, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,

 Did you know that three year olds in England could be considered racist for not enjoying new foods?  

 From the article “This could include a child of as young as three who says “yuk” in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.”

Oookay.  Many questions come to mind.

  •  What’s the difference between ‘unfamiliar food’ and ‘unfamiliar foreign food’ to a small child?
  • If Jan doesn’t like cilantro, is he being racist against South Americans, Asians, Europeans, or Africans? 
  • If Brittany doesn’t like peanut butter, is she racist against North Americans? 
  • Would a toddler know that french fries and french toast aren’t really French?
  • If someone doesn’t like chicken with rice, is she a misanthrope?
  • If Marc eats his burrito, salsa, chips, rice, and beans, but leaves the guacamole, is he just a little racist?
  • Isn’t it bad manners to say ‘yuck’ even if you’re only 3?

That article was about the silliest thing I’ve read all week.    I chose the bacon sandwich photo because everything is better with bacon.  Ask most exchange students, they’ll agree.  USA bacon is the best.  Apparently, we cure it better here.  Of course, frying instead of boiling helps.

“Free Refills!”
05-13-08, 12:03 am
Filed under: Culture, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags:

Answer: Free Refills!
Questions: Best thing about the US is ___?  What will you miss the most?

 We had our final group discussion with the exchange students over the weekend.  We talked about serious issues (reverse culture shock) and silly stuff like food.

I think we’re the only country in the world with free refills.  The kids are always thrilled to discover they can drink as much soda as they want.  OHMYGAWD, these kids love free refills.  In many other countries, a serving size of pop is 8-ounces without refills.  They also enjoy 59¢ gigunda cups of fountain soda from convenience stores.

What else do they adore?  Taco Bell!  Bacon! (We do have the best bacon in the world.  P’s grandma used to boil bacon. ick.)  Wendy’s Baconator and Frostys.  Kraft macaroni & cheese. Peanut butter cheesecake.  Pop-tarts.  Pizza, cookies, and french fries for school lunch.  Doughnuts.  Did I mention Taco Bell?   Most of the junk food they made fun of back in August.  Chicken nuggets. Dairy Queen.  Orbit Mint Mojito gum.  Ranch dressing. Caesar salad.  Brownies, Chocolate chip cookies.  Cheese. Gatorade.  Oreos.

I asked the kids how many of them went to a drive-thru and ate in the car before coming to the states.  They all laughed.  This year was the first time that most of the kids had used a drive-thru, but only one or two had eaten in the car.  A FES said the first time his hostfamily went through the drive-thru, he sat with his bag an drink on his lap while the rest of the family ate in the car.  They told him to go ahead and eat, but he waited until he returned home.  He took a proper plate and glass out of the cupboard, and put his food and drink in them, sat down and ate.  Now he looks back, and just laughs. 

Not a one of them will miss the bread here.

Food and a Recipe
11-07-07, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , , ,

 I’m preparing the house for my trip.  I’ve been cleaning.  Yuck!  I’ve grocery shopped, and washed all the blankets and comforters.  I’ve filled the freezer for Husband with homemade Chili, Sloppy Joes, ham, scalloped potatoes, and That Mexican Stuff, a family favorite.  Husband and our FES’s all enjoy eating this often.  I made up the recipe, and it never had a name, so we just call it that Mexican stuff.  

That Mexican Stuff

This recipe is forgiving, and I adjust quantities depending on what’s available in the pantry.

Ingredients: canned, drained black beans, cooked white rice, cooked corn,  ground meat cooked with an undrained can of chopped tomatoes and jalapenos, (edit: cook the hamburger, drain it, then put the can of tomatoes in and stir.) lots of salsa,  1 block cream cheese cut into small pats, shredded queso blanco or any type of cheese.  I use roughly equal amounts of beans and rice, and meat and corn, it always turns out well no matter the proportion.  Use regular rice, as minute rice gets mushy.  Use the cream cheese in the layer above the beans.

Layering: This can be layered in a roasting pan, or jumbled together in a crock pot.  Husband prefers layers, the kids like it messy.   Use the beans or rice for a base, then layer the rest, ending with salsa and then shredded cheese.  You may need to add some water to the salsa, and poke holes in the dish so it doesn’t lay on top.

Cooking: bake uncovered at 350 until top is browned.

The dogs have a new gigunda bag of dog food, a few boxes of Scooby Snacks, and 6 huge rawhide bones.  Husband is going to ask my father to come and visit with the dogs while he works.  I’m home most of the day with them, and they’ll be evil lost for 10 hours alone.   My dad likes the dogs, and he enjoys hanging out here.  I can’t walk without the dogs trotting behind me.  Every time I stand, they stand.  I walk, they walk. I stop quickly, and they pile into me.  It’s my entourage.

I’m saving cleaning off the kitchen table for last.  Things go to our kitchen table, grow roots, and never leave.  Whenever it’s cleared of everything, I take a photo for our former FES’s.  Looks weird when it’s empty.

Invisible Woman
10-12-07, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , , ,

I have magic powers.  Husband, I, and our cars are invisible.  I can’t think of any other explanation for the many people that pull out from cross roads in front of us. 
Husband and I ate a late lunch at a large, family owned restaurant today.  After we finished, our waitress brought a box for leftovers, and disappeared.  We waited and waited, and never saw her again.  After 20 minutes, I asked the hostess to find her.  SHE WENT HOME.  Another waitress had to go find the bill.  Husband and I heard them talking “But I don’t know what they had.”   They found the bill, we paid and left.   This is the second time in a month this has happened to us!   The first time was also a late lunch-at Chili’s.  The manager came to us, and insisted the meal was on him because we waited so long.  We tried to argue that we didn’t expect a free meal, we wanted to pay.  
We’ve never been dumped by servers before, to have it happen twice in a month is really weird.   We joked that if it happens again, we’re just leaving. (too much residual Catholic guilt to really dine ‘n dash.)

Letter From an Outbound
10-08-07, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , ,

So cute!  One of our outbound students included this in her latest letter home.   We’re finally getting to the stage where they no longer whisper about me and my being from another country, and some even talk to me…. I almost want to give cookies and chocolate for their progress but think it would only alienate me from the group again.

How to Gross Out Your New FES
09-03-07, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , ,

 FES may not puke, but he will at least roll his eyes.  Feed FES any of the following:  Wonder bread, unsweetened iced tea, Easy Cheese, root beer, Dr. Pepper, ginger ale, pickles, pumpkin pie, zucchini, sauerkraut, cole slaw, pretzels, peanut butter, marshmallow peeps, Boca burgers, sour cream, cranberry anything, stuffing, candied yams, sweet potatoes, or Kraft singles.   (Did you notice most of Thanksgiving dinner is on the list?)  Corn on the cob may be offensive to some students, as it may be considered animal feed, not for human consumption.
Then check the list again in May.  See how many have become favorites. 
It was great a few years ago when Heinz made blue, green, and purple ketchups.  Other companies sold colored margarine and french fries.  That was fun!  We took the colored ketchups to all FES meetings and parties.  The kids were appalled at ‘You Americans.’
How to make FES ecstatic: One word. BACON. (Husband writes: Especially the pre-cooked type you put in the microwave for 1 minute.)