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From a YES student: The Grinch didn’t steal my Christmas!!

January 11, 2010

Muna Nassor, a 17 year-old YES student from Zanzibar, Tanzania, lives in Ogden, Iowa, and attends Ogden High School. In this post, she shares about her experiences during the winter holidays.

Christmas has come and gone, and I will cherish the memories forever.

It is a tradition for American families to celebrate Christmas together as a family. My host family has a tradition to celebrate on Christmas Eve. We had a traditional meal that included shrimp, a potato dish, vegetables and bread. I cooked katlesi (Tanzanian food) for my family. My mom baked many different types of candies and chocolates that are enjoyed during the holiday season. My family shared gifts and attended church services celebrating the birth of Jesus.

In Tanzania, we do have celebrations in which we gather and celebrate together like many Americans do during Christmas. We cook special meals, and we dress in our fancy clothes. I notice several big differences between our Tanzanian celebrations and Christmas. For example: we don’t share gifts during our celebrations, and we don’t put up lights inside on trees or outside on our houses or trees. We don’t decorate the inside of our homes with holiday decorations. We don’t have snow during our celebrations or any other time of the year.

During Christmas break in America, we traveled to Colorado. We went skiing, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, tubing and shopping. I went to ski school and found it fun but very difficult! I fell many times and found it very hard on my knees. I need more practice! Snow-shoeing was fun and enjoyable. My host mom took me snowmobiling. The mountain scenery was very beautiful and amazing. I really enjoyed the ride (although it was scary at times). Tubing was my favorite activity, and I would like to do it again.

The most surprising observation that I made in Colorado was seen in Walmart… People take their dogs everywhere! Many people had three or four dogs walking them everywhere at the same time. Dogs in American are treated like people. We have very few dogs in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

I was very fortunate to be able to experience Colorado during my visit – seeing the mountains and trying new things that I will not be able to do at home.

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