Sharing Cultures

The Sharing Cultures Committee supports FAWCO Member Clubs in their efforts to promote mutual understanding and awareness of customs, cultural differences, and local environments in order to bridge gaps between nations and different populations. The committee welcomes FAWCO Member Club programs or activities that help Club members, their families, and/or the local community learn from one another.
 
Committee Chair position open.  
 
If you are interested in working on this committee, or have questions, comments or information to share, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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Conference Reports:

A ‘Sharing Cultures
Experience’ Activity

 Each club offers its membership a variety of activities and clubs in which the members can take part for example: book clubs, cooking lessons, foreign language conversation groups and cinema sisters.  FAWCO Rep, Arline Coward, Barcelona Women’s Network (BWN), and the club's seven member FAWCO Committee facilitated a rare unique activity entitled the Sharing Cultures Experience.  The general concept is that because members of member clubs have had a variety of experiences with other cultures, why not create a forum for sharing that information?  In Barcelona, the members were invited to a midday activity where refreshments would be served.  Anyone who wanted to attend needed to bring a "precious item" with them the item/object would be something that ‘gave them a feeling of ‘home’ no matter where they might be living in the world.  The event was attended by 20 members who only had good things to say about the event.  The feedback was so positive that members who were unable to attend have asked the FAWCO Committee to organize another ‘sharing cultures experience’.

A ‘Sharing Cultures Experience’ activitycan be a one or two -time activity or the concept can be  developed into a regular club group.  Activities at a ‘Sharing Cultures’ club meeting might be: an international food lesson, a book discussion about an expat book or novel which takes place in a foreign land or a presentation by a child psychologist who specializes in child in transition. A ‘Sharing Cultures Experience’ activity could be for all members of a club whether they are short-term or if they have been involved with the expat community for many years.

If you decide to host a ‘Sharing Cultures Experience’ activity please share your results with the Sharing Cultures Task Force.

Living in London, one gets accustomed to international stages.  Just in the recent two years millions of eyes
fell in love with Will and Kate and then cheered at the Queen’s Jubilee.  However, with the Olympics and the Paralympics, the focus now moved to individuals, every day British, Americans and others, taking the center stage. As the torch traveled through the UK, we saw international flags drape the streets, historical areas turned into sporting venues and British pride challenging our own red, white and blue energy.  And when the torch finally arrived into London on the 26th, any apprehensive cloud on the games lifted and
we all knew we would be living a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

London_2

The energy in the air became contagious. Sitting at the opening ceremonies, British industrial, literature and
cultural eras evolved before our eyes while in the stands the Brits cheered for Americans, the Americans for Russians and everyone for the 4 member “No Country” athletes.  We stood proudly to see the Americans parade in, roared when the “Queen” parachuted down and teared at the tribute to terrorist victims, thinking of our own deep scars. 

In the following days, the streets became alive with energy and pride for every country and athlete.  When British athlete, Jessica Ennis, clinched the gold, a rumble could be heard from Liverpool to Tower Bridge.  When Michael Phelps swam to his 18th gold, thousands of spectators followed every stroke on the big screens in Hyde Park.  And while you were sitting at home attached to your TV, sports that perhaps you
never followed such as shooting or dressage became as intense as World Series Game 7 bottom of the 9th inning. 

London_3Yet, the excitement was not just for the athletes. Over 70,000 people volunteered their time to ensure that attendees were enthusiastically welcomed and that they left with warm memories. AWC London member Marianna Sheehan dedicated over 14 shifts to welcome athletes at Heathrow Airport. “I saw some of the events, visited the Olympic Park twice but this extended exposure to the Olympics from a different perspective could not be beat.   I saw a number of the people I greeted on TV at both the opening
ceremonies and their athletic events.  Fun to watch someone you recognize.”

Having a brother as a sports agent during the Olympics could only forebode unique memories as AWC London member Suzanne Craig experienced.  Whether it was attending events on the spur of the moment or consoling nervous parents as their children competed, nothing could compare to her living room being transformed into a live studio with a major British network, interviewing the great US Gold Medalist Jackie
Joyner-Kersee.  After furniture moved and coffee was served, Jackie shared her memories and most poignant moments as an Olympian.  Suzanne’s front row ticket was second to none.

The Paralympics continued the enthusiasm in London. As we watched people conquer unimaginable victories, we witnessed that the human spirit is the strongest contending force.  

As fall settles in, calmness has returned to London.  Our American flags are packed away, ticket stubs placed in scrapbooks and photos left to remind us of our experiences.  Some of us may only be in
London for a short time but the memories of the Olympics will always tie us to the spirit on this side of the pond.

    London_1

Contributed by:  

Daiena Masciarelli, AWC London

 

Living around the world, sometimes FAWCO members have the opportunity to take part in or attend an event seeped in tradition.  One of our members share her story about a traditional ‘bride’s wedding’ in the United Emirates.  Read this fascinating story.

My Mom, two other friends and I were lucky enough to have been invited to an Emirati wedding recently in Dubai, UAE. It was a real cultural experience to see the generosity of the Bedouins. Although the name Bedouin produces images of camel hair tents in the desert, this was not the case at all.

We arrived at a large hall; most often used for trade exhibitions, and entered through a shielded doorway which was designed so that no one on the outside could look in. This is to preserve the privacy of those attending this all women's event.  The hall was transformed into a dream reception area as any you would see in western bridal magazines. Thousands of dollars’ worth of flowers were artistically arranged throughout the hall and on each of the almost 100 tables that each seated 10.

We were given the opportunity to spray ourselves with perfume when we entered and went through the receiving line of female relatives of the bride and groom. Next, we were served fruit drinks, red tea, thyme tea, chocolates, sweets, food, food, and more food!! Even though it was an all-women’s event which meant the women were free to show their hair, arms, cleavage and legs, most women stayed in their black abayas and many wore their "burga" (face mask).  For the most part, the marriageable young women were the ones to have taken off their abayas since a wedding is one place for potential mothers-in-law to have a look at who might make a good match for her son. One girl had hair down to her calves and it was obvious that she considered this one of her best assets. It was also fun to see the younger girls dressed up and running around with their younger brothers (to about age 8 years), the only males to attend.

We observed how they greeted each other- four kisses on one cheek and how they expressed their joy- an ear piercing ululating. While waiting for the bride, we were shown a video of the groom's wedding which was held 10 days earlier. I realized it was acceptable for the women to watch the men, but I'm sure the men were never going to see the video of the bride's wedding party! In fact, that is why we didn't take pictures, so as not to offend any of the ladies there who might not have been "modestly" dressed.

Enough cannot be said about the food.  There was food galore, besides the pre-dinner snacks, each table was served generous portions of chicken, barbecued meat, rice pilaf, vegetables, lasagna, and about four other dishes.

Soon after our dinner, and only two hours after we had arrived, the beautiful bride finally made her appearance. She came in, wearing a sleeveless gown, cut low both in front and in the back, and encircled by her veil. As she walked around the room, two aids were making sure that her dress was out of her way, constantly lifting and laying the hem of the dress and the longer than floor length veil. She then went onto the stage and continued her walk, very slowly, first on the right, then on the left, so that all could see her and her gorgeous gown.

By then it was almost midnight, so we got up to leave, as the bride waited for her groom to come and take her to her new home.

Submitted by:  Monica Jubayli. AWA Dubai

People

This particular article is for you, the reader – because you and I are “people”, a fantastic kaleidoscope!

Let’s close our eyes for a moment and pretend that we are looking out of an imaginary window into the world, what do we see: people of all races, dressed in a variety of styles and colors, they all seem focused on going to a pre-determined  place. Who are they, who are we, where do we come from, where are we going? What a myriad of subjects the mankind generates; we create and transmit “history”/”knowledge”, for cultural heritage.

Mankind: men, women, each individual person is a part of the huge mosaic that composes the world. “Feelings” is one for all mankind. What we globally express in the same way is: laughter, sadness, happiness, wishes; we all have emotions. The woman complements the man by setting up a family, and/or achieving objectives at work, and …: “behind a successful man there is a great woman”!

Let’s focus on the “woman’s role” in her own life, has she ambitious goals – yes, no matter what her life is destined for; it can be just as true for men. There are many famous women and men around the world; they all excelled, with their acute intelligence and determination, with accomplishments in the fields of arts and literature and music, politics and governance and also in the field of science and inventions. But there also are lots of ordinary people that strive for their living because of different factors, and it is to those people that our thoughts and actions should be directed to.

Let’s close our imaginary window and face the daily reality: there is the need for keeping the engine of the world running, for the better.

The message that we should address to the young generation is to encourage them to find an equilibrated use of their energy with dedication to studying, learning, communicating, volunteering,  helping those in need, defending the nature in which we, humans, are all part of.   Let’s set examples, let’s keep close to our new generation for they are our “future”. 

Submitted by: Luciana Fava Giles

Sharing Cultures Task Force

September 14, 2011

Wonderful foods are eaten around the world.  Living in new countries gives us the opportunity to try new cuisines.  We can eat at local restaurants that serve traditional dishes and sometimes we have the good fortune to meet people who are willing to share recipes of unique, tasty foods.  One of our members took the time to share two of her favorites.  Try these and if you would like to share a recipe from your area we would enjoy receiving it.

Languedoc Roussillon Food and Gastronomy

Food and Gastronomy in Languedoc Roussillon are definitely part of the typical way of life! This Southern region of France is indeed widely appreciated for its local products including olives, olive oil, tomatoes, seafood and shellfish (particularly oysters). From the authentic Cassoulet stew to the fine Crème Catalane, a traditional Languedoc Roussillon's meal brilliantly combines the aromas of the Provence gastronomy with the influence of the Spanish cuisine.

Far from the bustling French cities where people generally just grab a sandwich, the Languedoc Roussillon region still perpetuates its cooking traditions. The typical Southern gastronomy relies on convivial dishes like the well-known Cassoulet or the Brandade de Morue.

But the Southwest of France also boasts refined food like the Anchoiade or the Bourride from Sète - two fish dishes that emphasize the aromatic herbs of the wild garrigue (French scrubland). Indeed, thyme, rosemary, bay and sorrel, amongst others, play an important part in Languedoc Roussillon's gastronomy - somehow inspired by the Provence cuisine and the Catalan culture.

The Bourride de Baudroie is a traditional fish specialty from the Southern town of Sète. The Languedoc Roussillon Bourride is a classic Mediterranean fish stew or soup often compared to the Provence Bouillabaisse from Marseilles. But what makes the difference with other fish casseroles is that the original recipe from Sète exclusively includes fresh monkfish from the region.

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Bourride

This is the recipe that one of our members shared with us at our FAWCO Regional Meeting in January 2010:

Bourride de Baudroie (Monkfish)               (Sète)

1 large monkfish

3 tbsp olive oil                                     1 branch fennel

1 large onion, chopped                         5cm orange rind

2 tomatoes, skinned and seeded           bay leaf, thyme,

2 cloves garlic                                      salt, pepper

 

Aioli

1 egg yolk                                             25 cl olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sprouts removed          salt, pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Make the aioli first. In a mortar, crush garlic to the consistency of a purée.  Add the egg yolk, salt and pepper. Little by little add the olive oil, mixing as for a mayonnaise.
  2. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Do not brown. Add tomato and cook 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (without fish) with 150 ml of water and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add the monk-fish cut into 3-5cm pieces.
  3. Cook gently, no more than 10’. Remove bay leaf and orange rind. Add half the aioli to the sauce and stir till it thickens (without letting it boil !).
  4. Garnish with sliced bread sautéed in olive oil and serve with boiled potatoes.
  5. Serve the remaining aioli at the table.

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Anchoiade

This is the recipe that another member shared at the FAWCO Regional Meeting.

Anchoiade

The sauce and complete dish have the same name

This is a simple dish that was served traditionally on Christmas Eve in Provence.

Anchoiade (sauce):

*Place 15 or 20 anchovy filets in two or three Tablespoons red vinegar (we use Xeres Vinegar).

Put them in a shallow heavy dish that goes on the top of the oven burner and cook it on a low flame for a few minutes.  (If you like garlic then you can rub this dish with garlic before placing the anchovies).  Add ½ to ¾ glass of very best olive oil and bring everything to a simmer.  Turn off the fire and serve it immediately with any or all of the following:

Endive leaves, cauliflower, hard boiled eggs, Paris mushrooms, celery hearts, boiled potatoes, etc...

DELICIOUS as a big starter dish or main luncheon menu.

Submitted by:

Kim MOUSSERON

FAWCO Rep AWGLR

 

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