Friday, November 27, 2009

Spain, I Introduce to You: Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day from Spain! Or, in my case: happy Scrambled Eggs and Red Wine Day!

Given that I am, in fact, an American and Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Spain, the school thought it would be an excellent opportunity to shed some light on the students of Autol about this wonderful American tradition. Needless to say, they left it up to me to come up with a lesson plan, a way of conveying the historical aspects and modern-day significance of a holiday in which the students only previously understood involves, in some form or fashion, a turkey.

What I decided was fairly simple and straightforward: boys=Indians, girls=Pilgrims.

I came to class with construction paper headbands and feathers, paper towels and face paint, and the rest is history. You see, I figured the easiest way to explain the story of the first Thanksgiving would be for the students to act it out themselves. So, I dressed up all of the boys like Native Americans (myself included) and the female teacher dressed up the girls as pilgrims (paper towel on the head, rosy cheeks). Next thing I knew the kids were running around the classroom like crazy until the boys realized that they were not meant to battle the pilgrims, but rather teach them how to hunt and cultivate food. Ultimately, we ended up sitting down at a table and pretending to eat plastic food.

I think it went well.

Whether or not they fully understand or appreciate this traditional American holiday, the bottom line is that we had a lot of fun. While many of the girls took their ‘costumes’ off after class, the boys were not about to cut their time as a Native American short. So for a whole day, in the school and around the town afterwards, boys were running around donning war paint and feather headbands, pretending to hunt and battle. I too, decided to leave my war paint on, so that when concerned parents saw me, I could explain that it was my fault their children were acting like wild savages, but not to worry, it was all part of a lesson to explain to them our wonderful American holiday: Thanksgiving.

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