This week at St. Francis School we will participate in a new school-wide tradition (this is the 4th year) called “International Day.” Don’t ask me why it is done in April (Poetry Month) instead of in October (United Nations Day, the 24th). Suffice it to say that our boss faced a possible insurrection when she wanted to do it in March during the same week we had Book Fair, Bingo, and Parent/Teacher Conferences. How ironic that International Day of Happiness was on the 20th that same week. We were NOT happy! Teacher riot averted, we negotiated for April 27th, which currently has no UN supported international observance. I am, however, chuckling to myself about April 28th: World Day for Safety and Health in the Workplace. This year’s theme? WORKPLACE STRESS!!!!!
Back to International Day at St. Francis….
The upper grades (5-8) have to do individual projects and present their chosen country in the afternoon. The K-4 Unit gets to pick a country and the whole class participates and has their presentation in the morning. I gave my class three options to vote on: Morocco, Madagascar, and Sweden. They picked Sweden. I must say it’s been fun sharing my Swedish heritage with my 1st graders, but something else has happened that I did not expect. Along the way I’ve (not surprisingly) made a few discoveries about the country itself, but what I wasn’t expecting was the discovery of an intimate and personal connection with my Swedish roots.
I often joke that “I’m 50% Swedish, 25% Italian, and 25% Irish, but the Italian just takes over!” That’s true, but! When researching information that I could transpose into cross-curricular lessons, worksheets, and activities for a group of mostly Apache 1st graders, I started to make connections that gave me a bit of insight into my own personality and tendencies. One of my other jokes is that I have this “latent Lutheran gene” in me that makes me obsess about paper-work and organization. Soooo true!!!
So my “ah-ha!” moment came while reading about the Swedish temperament on a site that helps train and educate global businesses on culture and etiquette in other countries. It says that most Swedes find boasting distasteful, and are often soft-spoken. I have always had trouble with compliments and do not like to call attention to myself. When I do a good job, it’s enough that I know it and others benefit from it. I don’t always want recognition; a simple “Thank-you” is enough. Which leads to the next eye-opener: Tack! Even when you are thanking someone for something, they may thank you for thanking them!
When invited to someone’s house for a party or for dinner I never go empty-handed. Under “Etiquette” on this same site it mentions gift-giving not just for the hostess, but for any children that may live there, too. When I travel to visit my brother & sister-in-law I always bring something homemade and maybe something special from Trader Joe’s. They told me that I didn’t have to feel obligated to bring anything, but I said, “It’s my nature.” Well, now I can see that it truly is my nature! Yes, it’s always fun to discover something that’s always been there waiting to be uncovered.
My students are excited about Sweden and what we have planned, and so am I. We are building a Viking Ship, the boys made Viking Helmets, the girls made Swedish Bonnets. I’ve made little red vests for the boys, blue skirts for the girls, and the girls decorated little white aprons. Tomorrow we’ll make Fresh Pickled Cucumbers in Science class. Also on the menu for our little Smorgasbord are Swedish Meatballs, mushrooms, onions, Swedish Pancakes (Plattar) with Lingonberries, and Christmas Crullers. To top off our virtual tour of Sweden my students will be performing two folk dances they’ve been practicing. They will look so cute in their little outfits! I’ll post pictures next week!
One last discovery….
Since I cut my cable over 10 years ago I’ve been out of the TV-Land loop to say the least. I honestly don’t know half the celebrities I see on the covers of the magazines at the check-out lines. While google-searching for authentic (that means NO HORNS!!!) Viking helmets I kept seeing pictures of Vikings from a “new” series on the History Channel.
I simply must get caught up on the last 4 Seasons!