In addition to teaching at the university, I also hold English Club at the Technical Lyceum, and recently, I’ve been giving small presentations there as well. This past Thursday, I showed them a powerpoint presentation of American nature to some 6th graders. The presentation itself was nothing special, just something that I threw together that morning. However, after class was over, the children crowded around my desk and, looking shyly at their feet, asked me to sign their copybooks. I was absolutely floored — why would anyone want my autograph? “We think it’s really cool that you’re from America,” one said. “I saw you on TV!” exclaimed another. After I signed their books, they slowly shuffled away, holding their books and staring at my scrawled message and signature.
It’s things like this that remind me of the importance of cultural exchange. This was probably the first time these children have ever seen an American in their lives. They’ve heard so much about this country and its culture, yet they have never been able to have the chance to talk with one. I’m able to be the face to the myth or mystery, I guess. I am not making any extravagant claims that I’m changing lives or anything, but I do feel that I’m bringing America just a little closer to this little town here. I’m making America a little more tangible.