SCOLA Travel Journal: Week Two

So my adventure in the Philippines is over, I am anxious to start my next journey…but I have no idea where to go! The services on SCOLA.org helped me decide the perfect destination last time, so back online I go!

I log on to People and Places and start flipping through the online photo gallery of over 29,000 original photos. So many amazing places catch my eye and it’s hard to focus on choosing just one country when there are so many to see! I’ve never been to South America, and the beautiful landscape of Peru is drawing me in. I’ve been needing to brush up on my Spanish so I figured Peru would be a great second destination!

Speaking of brushing up on my Spanish, I should figure out how to say a few key phrases like “Do you speak English?” and “I’m lost!”. Although I am busy preparing for my trip in the days leading up to my flight, I conveniently can log on to SCOLA’s mobile applications no matter where I am! I use my phone to practice my Spanish with Insta-Class, ready-to-use multi-media language lessons produced exclusively for SCOLA! I also log on to Spoken Word and chat with native speaker Julye…she lives in Peru and is able to tell me all about her country’s culture, and corrects me when I pronounce hola as hole-a instead of o-la! Julye responded to all of my video posts within 24 hours and most importantly was able to save me from a lot of embarrassment…

I now feel confident in my Spanish skills and knowledge of Peruvian culture, so I was ready to begin my second international adventure with SCOLA On the Street Videos.

My first stop in Peru is to go see my friend Julye that I met on Spoken Word. Today is her birthday! “Hola!” I greet her when she answers her front door and we both laugh. I join along as Julye’s family and friends celebrate her birthday with food, soft drinks, gifts, singing, and cake. She gets many wonderful gifts such as a necklace, picture frames, a teddy bear and flowers.

The birthday celebrations wore me out, so I went to sleep excited and anxious for the rest of adventures Peru had to bring.

The rest of the week proved just as fun as the first days celebrations and included many exciting experiences and discoveries. I was able to visit Senor de los Milagros (The Lord of the Miracles, for those of you who have not been studying your Spanish on scola.org). Senor de los Milagros is an image of Christ painted on an adobe wall at the main altar of the Shrine of The Nazarene of Lima. Many Peruvians visit The Lord of Miracles in during a procession in October and gives blessings to the faithful.

I left Peru with new friends thanks to Julye and new knowledge of Peru and it’s religious culture thanks to Senor de los Milagros, but I can’t forget to mention what else I left Peru with…and that is a very full belly! While in Peru I went on a tour of the largest food fair in Latin America- Mistura. Mistura gave me a profound appreciation of traditional Peruvian products such as quinoa, coffee, maca, cocoa, corn, and so much more…I would go on but my stomach is starting to growl just thinking about it! Mistura also featured folk dances from popular regions of Peru.

I left Peru longing to return someday soon, but also anxious to begin my next international adventure with SCOLA On the Street Videos.

Check back next week to travel along to the third destination on my journey with SCOLA!

Chinese Birthday Traditions

Many people in the United States hold big celebrations for various milestone birthdays including a sweet sixteen where they can get their driver’s license, a bar crawl when they can legally drink on their 21st birthday, and smaller parties as they get older with their family and close friends. In China though, traditional birthday celebrations differ. Traditionally, Chinese people do not pay much attention to birthday celebrations until a person turns 60 years old. Sixty years is considered a cycle of life in Chinese culture, so the 60th birthday is regarded as very important and is celebrated with a big party. Chinese culture expects a person to have a big family filled with children and grandchildren by 60 years old, and therefore see it as an age to be proud of.

A person’s 61st year is seen as the beginning of a new life cycle. After the 60th birthday, celebrations are held every 10 years up until the person’s death, and generally, the older a person is the grander their birthday celebration is.

Sixtieth birthday parties can be large or small, but no matter the size the celebrations meal always includes peaches and noodles, which are the signs of a long life. When the noodles are cooked they cannot be cut short. Shortened noodles are thought to have bad implications. Although the celebrations are said to include peaches, the peaches, in fact, are not real. Steamed wheaten food with a sweet stuffing are called peaches because they are made in the same shape. Everyone at the party must eat the food as a sign of well wishes to the guest of honor.

If you’re planning on attending a traditional Chinese birthday party typical presents usually include two or four eggs, long noodles, artificial peaches, tonics, wine and money in red paper.

Besides the 60th birthday, some families in China also place importance on celebrating the third and twelfth birthdays for children. A child’s twelfth birthday celebration includes the birthday boy or girls friends and their parents. It is similar to a wedding ceremony with a delicious banquet and speeches by guests at the party.

Although many in China celebrate birthdays with the previously mentioned traditions, many Chinese people now seem to be following American birthday customs. Cakes with candles to represent how old a person is turning are becoming more common, along with making a wish when blowing out the candles. This is quickly becoming regarded as the best part of the birthday party.

What is your favorite birthday tradition? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to know more about birthday traditions around the world? Check out Savoir-Vivre, coming soon to www.scola.org!

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