Today at our family’s house we started out by talking about their Dussehra festival activities. We saw their pictures of their family celebrating and putting the red-dyed rice on each other’s foreheads. I love learning about other cultures and customs and I think this festival is awesome. At first I thought about how funny a custom it is to put huge globs of red rice on your forehead and wear it around all day but then, like a good Catholic, I thought how similar it is to the ashes Catholics wear on Good Friday. It was a really interesting connection to remind me that depending on how you look at things, all customs are odd.
After chatting for a bit about Dussehra we had a delicious puffed-rice dish. This was different then our usual ramen noodle-esque meal and was really interesting. I don’t know how they made the rice puffy but it was a bit like popcorn. Then they added chili powder, mustard seed, red onion, cucumber, cilantro and lime. We also got invited over for a full Napali dinner on Sunday, so I am really excited for that!
A little while before we had to leave two of the girls mentioned that they were taking the ACT on Saturday and how hard the English sections were. I offered to help and they were eager to start. They first wanted help with the essay portion, which they found to be the hardest. Right away I found out why. The essay question asked them about the Children’s Protection Act and if the software schools have to add to their computers to block certain inappropriate sites was an infringement on learning and freedoms. These girls had moved to this country less than a year ago, and now they are expected to way the pros and cons of internet freedoms in schools?! I tried to help them the best I could but the fact is that this test is specifically designed to challenge the English knowledge of native English speakers so if you only have a rudimentary knowledge of the language you are at such a disadvantage. The sentence completion task, which the task itself they understood very well, confused them because the paragraph was about Vikings and fiords. I tried my best to help them but I really don’t know how well they will do. But I wish them luck!