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Providing a New Perspective on the U.S. to Macedonians
By Maxwell M., YES Abroad 2015-2016, Macedonia
For International Education Week, Brendan S. and I presented on American politics and culture to a group of sophomores at Josip Broz Tito High School, a local high school in Skopje. The school was generous enough to allow for our presentation to be made during the school day, allowing for more students to attend. The goal of the presentation was to show the local students a more accurate and well-rounded perspective of American culture and politics. During the presentation, a local student asked me if American high school was similar to the movie Mean Girls. The question demonstrates why I wanted to organize the presentation: to give a more accurate understanding of the U.S. than can be seen in the latest Hollywood movies.
After covering the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Brendan and I discussed the three branches of the U.S. government and their specific purposes and roles. We then explained traditional American sports, such as American football and baseball, and how Americans celebrate federal and religious holidays in the U.S., such as Christmas and Kwanzaa.
After our hour-long presentation, we answered students’ questions on life and politics in the U.S. The students were engaged throughout our presentation and they asked excellent questions. They were particularly curious about the American lifestyle and education system and how they compare to Macedonia's systems. A favorite question of mine was, “What is your view on [the Macedonian] school system and how does it compare to the United States?”
The presentation was not only a great opportunity to present American culture, but also a wonderful opportunity to connect with some amazing Macedonian students and foster cross-cultural exchange. Overall, the event was a big success!