By Dea Shehu, YES 2016-2017, Albania, hosted by ACES in Elkhart, Indiana
We all know that one of the main goals of YES program is to exchange different cultures. As a YES alumna I take this part very seriously, and that is why for my first activity I chose to teach a class of 35 children from my former elementary school in Albania about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a very unique holiday in the U.S., and it is not celebrated in our country. The children, ages five and six, were very excited to learn about a holiday that they did not know anything about.
I started my activity by explaining to them what Thanksgiving is, why it is celebrated, and the traditions behind it. I told them that this is a holiday where families gather together and appreciate each other. When they asked about my experience, I shared with them that I had felt very thankful for my host family and that on that day I felt as included as the rest of the family.
Since on Thanksgiving people have a large dinner and indulge in special foods, I invited the children to share their favorite foods and why they like them so much.
After that, they drew their favorite foods on pieces of paper while asking more questions about Thanksgiving and other holidays that are celebrated in America. Finally, everyone shared their drawing and we took pictures together. To honor Thanksgiving in a humble way, we also enjoyed some snacks.
I really enjoyed this activity. It brought back a lot of memories of International Education Week, for which I did a lot of presentations and shared my culture and Albanian holidays. It also felt really nice to share American culture, especially with children that are so young and didn’t really know anything about America before!