Sometimes amazing opportunities you have to search for and really work hard to accomplish, and others simply fall into you lap. My host sister Kirsten recently asked me if I would want to do a presentation for her English class over my American state, Nebraska. I think my exact response was "Natuerlich!!".
Now to some people, the thought of presenting in front of an entire class sounds terrifying and awkward, but for me it was the perfect outle to share about my home community. I made the presentation with my other host sister Leonie and she taught me little insider tips about how German students are used to seeing and hearing a presentation. For example, they always have a list of contents towards the beginning and a 'thank you for your attention' slide at the very end. As much as I would've liked, I obviously couldn't fit all that makes up Nebraska into one 45 minute long presentation, rather I needed to skim the surface of all the small details that make Nebraska what it is such as its location, landscape, and history but I found that the most important parts were the people's quirks. For example, the huskers, Kool-Aid, and our ranch dressing usage may not seem important to most, but they are a small part of what make up the heart of Nebraska.
I went in at first a little nervous. Having practiced only once with my host family the night before, I stood at the front of the class ready to show my home. At first, the students were very withdrawn as they were keen on making sure they understood what I was saying, but with a few jokes I could see interest start to form. It was an absolutely incredible experience to be able to watch as more and more of them began to answer my questions and participate in the activities. My favorite part was when I taught them the most Nebraskan phrase in the world "Ope, sorry I'm just gonna sneak right past ya and grab the ranch" because never would I have thought I would hear that said by so many students with a German accent. When I was finished there were so many questions that came from little parts of my presentation. They asked about my school, politics, food, and with those questions I was also able to learn and look at my culture with a different perspective. Up until then, I had never considered someone might not understand why someone might put sugar and food coloring into their water simply because a man-jug thing jumped through a wall screaming "oh yeah!", but looking back I can see how that might be a bit odd. :)
I think now I am definitely going to try to find more new ways to not only share my culture, but talk to others about what they experience in their day-to-day lives.