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Welcome to Boston Homestay Japanese Otawara Group!25-Mar-2018

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Welcome to Boston Homestay Japanese Kikuzato Group!24-Mar-2018

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2018 Boston Marathon

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 13, 2018

If you're a resident of the Boston area, you're probably aware that this Monday (April 19th) is Presidents' Day and Marathon Monday.

                                                                                 

Marathon Monday has a become a widely celebrated event in Boston. On this day, Boston schools are typically closed in observance of Patriot's Day and several roads are blocked off for the race. Spectators from across the country and even across the world come to cheer on friends and loved ones  along the route. Others come to stand  by the finish line and watch competitors complete their final miles.


How did the Marathon get its start? The first Boston Marathon was first run in April 1897, making it the oldest continuously running marathon and the second longest continuously running footrace in North America. The Marathon was inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.  The first winner of the Boston Marathon was John J "JJ" McDermott, who ran the 24.5 mile course in 2 hours and 55 minutes.  Women were not allowed to officially enter the Marathon until 1972. The first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon was Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb, who finished the race in 1966.


While the Marathon was originally a local event, its fame grew to attract runners from around the world. The Marathon was originally a free event, and only began awarding cash prizes in 1986, after professional athletes refused to run the race unless they received a cash prize.

If you want to catch this year's race (either live or on TV) here is what you need to know.


Where: The race will span from Hopkinton to Boston. You can find a race map hereThe race will span 26.2 miles

Time: The Marathon begins at 8:50 a.m. with mobility impaired competitors having the first start time. The women's elite race begins at 9:32 am and the men's at 10:am.

How to Watch: Get there early to claim a good spot along the route. This guide gives the best spots to watch. 

TV/Live stream: f you want to watch the race from the comfort of your own home, it will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. You can also live stream the race on NBC Sports Live and from the Boston Athletic Association website.

Happy Marathon Monday and good luck to all participants!

Cherry Blossom Season is in Bloom

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Spring is here (although from recent weather you probably can't tell)  and that means cherry blossom season! Cherry blossoms usually bloom in Japan from late March - mid April, or even early May. Cherry blossom viewing is a cultural event in Japan, observed by many. Hanami, or "flower viewing" refers to the custom of enjoying the cherry blossoms after winter has gone. A typical hanami usually involves holding an outdoor party under cherry blossom trees. Observers will bring a picnic of food, beer, or sake and relax as sakura¸ or cherry blossoms fall from the trees.

Several cities in Japan are famous for their hanami festivals. Hirosaki, the Japanese city centered around the 17th century Hirosaki Castle, holds the Sakura-Matsuri festival every year. Yoshino-Yama, a mountain in Japan's Nara Prefecture is considered to be one of the best viewing spots in Japan, as the mountain is covered in over 30,000 cherry trees.  Other notable spots include the Japan Mint in Osaka, and Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Our Groups Coordinator, Gen, is working for us in Japan until July. He sent these beautiful photos of cherry trees in bloom in his home city.




The U.S. is also home to cherry blossoms. A grove of cherry blossom trees was gifted to the United States from Japan and now align the title basin in the West Potomac Park. These trees bloom every year, usually in April. The cherry blossom blooming is not nearly as celebrated in the United States as it is in Japan, however D.C. does have an annual cherry blossom festival and annual cherry blossom festival parade.

Source: JNTO

Passover Celebrations: The Seder

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, March 30, 2018

Tonight marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover is a weeklong celebration in the Jewish religion that commemorates the Hebrew Bible story of the Exodus. In the Jewish faith, the Exodus is the liberation of the Israelite slaves in Egypt by Moses (a prominent  figure in the Hebrew Bible). A large aspect of the Passover celebration is the Seder. Here is some insight into how this tradition is practiced.


(The White House Seder)

The Seder

The Seder is a home ritual practiced during Passover.  The Hebrew word "Seder", which translates to "order", reflects the idea that the order in which participants do things during the Seder (like eat, pray, etc.) is significant, and is outlined in a Jewish religious text called the Haggadah. Families typically hold a Seder on the first or second night of Passover.


The Seder Plate

An important aspect of the Seder service is the Seder plate- a partitioned plate containing certain amounts of specific foods. Each food is symbolic of a certain aspect of the Passover story. A roasted lamb shank (which is not eaten) represents the old tradition of sacrificing a lamb during Passover, a hard boiled egg represents spring and the circle of life, bitter herbs represent the bitterness of slavery, haroset (a mixture of wine, nuts, and apples) represents the mortar used by the Jews in Egypt, and karpas (or greens such as parsley) are used to represent spring.  


(Matzah bread)

Unleavened bread, known as matzah, is also placed on the table to represent the bread that the Jews took with them when they fled Egypt and salt water is used to represent the tears of slaves. According to the story of Passover, the Jewish people did not have enough time to wait for their bread to rise before they had to leave Egypt. This is why many followers of the Jewish faith do not eat any form of leavened bread during the week of Passover.

Other traditions

In some homes the Seder table may also have special wine glasses, or kiddish cups. The Torah (the main text of the Jewish faith) commands that at least four symbolic cups of wine be consumed during the Seder. There is sometimes two extra cups; one for the Jewish prophet Elijah whose spirit is believed to visit at Passover, and the other is for Moses' sister Miriam to symbolize her well which is said to have provided water for Israelites in the desert. her cup is also there to symbolize the importance of women during the Exodus. Sometimes families may have pillows on their chairs during the Seder. This is to encourage reclining at the table during Passover, as a symbol of freedom.


(Matzo Ball Soup)

The Dinner 

Additionally, a Passover meal is also eaten. Passover meals differ between households, but some traditional foods that are often eaten include matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, beef brisket, chicken, and potatoes. 

Source: Time.com

Around the World in Easter Eggs

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, March 23, 2018

Easter, (a Christian religious holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ) is right around the corner. Next Sunday, followers of the Christian religion will celebrate Easter by attending Church services, and attending parties or meals with family. Another Easter tradition observed by many Christian families around the world is decorating Easter eggs. Each country has its own way of decorating Easter Eggs, many of which reflect the history of that culture. Here is a look at Easter Eggs decorations around the globe.


Ukraine 

Ukrainian Easter eggs, or psyanky, are decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist method to create intricate patterns. Historically, each region, village, and family had its own symbols, rituals, and meanings associated with the dying of each egg. Pysanky were typically created by the woman or mother of the house, and designed on raw or sometimes baked eggs, rather than boiled eggs. The eggs needed to be fertilized by a rooster, to symbolize the brining of fertility into the household. Pysanky were made to be given to family members and respected outsiders, such as priests.  They were often placed in the same area as farm animals to bring good fortune for the coming harvest. For example, a Pysanka might be placed in a cows manger to ensure a good milk supply, or placed near a bee hive to ensure a large production of honey.


Greece

In Greece, eggs are traditionally dyed a deep red for Easter. The origin behind this color stems from many myths, however the most common reason for the red dye is to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, Greeks play a game of cracking their eggs , or "tsougrisma" in Greek, to symbolize the breaking open of Jesus' tomb and his resurrection. The game is played by two people each holding one egg and tapping them on top of one another. The goal of the game is to crack the other player's egg. The winner of the game is the one whose egg cracks both ends of the other players eggs.


Mexico

Cascarones are hollowed-out eggshells filled with confetti or small toys that are common throughout Mexico. While cascarones are most notably used in Mexico during the festival Carnival, they have become a popular Easter tradition in areas along the U.S. - Mexico border. Cascarones are created by breaking a hole in the top of an eggshell and then pouring the contents out. The shell is then cleaned, decorated, and dried before it is filled with confetti. The outside hole is then covered with glue or tissue paper. Having a cascaron broken over ones head is considered a sign of good luck, and the eggs are now often used in other ceremonies such as during Day of the Dead and at weddings.


Japan
Easter is not widely celebrated in Japan, as only 1% of the population is reported as practicing Christianity. However, those that do observe the religious holiday often create Easter eggs decorated with delicate origami paper, known in Japanese as "washi". The washi egg is created by first  removing the contents of the egg to hollow it out. Then, a rectangle of washi paper, large enough to cover the egg, is folded in half, and cut nearly to the middle every quarter inch to form a fringe of narrow strips. Each strip is trimmed to a point. The paper is unfolded, rolled around the egg, and glued on one strip at a time. After the egg is varnished.

Source: Brit.co

St. Patrick's Day in the City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that originated in Ireland is celebrated widely, and perhaps more enthusiastically in the United States. The United States, due to its large Irish population, adopted the holiday and now cities and towns around the country have St. Patrick’s Day parades and traditions. Here are some cities known for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.

Boston:

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston in 1737. While St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is primarily a religious holiday, in the United States it is secular and is observed by Irish and non-Irish residents alike. Each year, Boston celebrates St. Patty’s Day with a parade in South Boston- a famously Irish-American area of the city. Irish rock band, The Dropkick Murphy’s, most known for their song “Shipping Up to Boston”, traditionally plays a St. Patrick’s Day concert in the city.

According to a 2015 U.S. census, 32.7 million Americans claimed Irish ancestry. This number is 7 times the population of Ireland.

New York City:

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in NYC in 1762. In 2002, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade honored victims an heroes of 9/11 and featured over 300,000 participants and 3 million spectators, making it the largest parade to date. In 2014, the NYC St. Patty’s Day Parade made news again after parade organizers announced the first ever LGBT group march- effectively ending the ban on these groups participating. The NYC parade as a notably long parade route- extending from 5th Avenue to 44th and 79th streets. It has become known as the world’s largest ST. Patrick’s Day parade.

Chicago:

Chicago’s tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades began in 1955. This city is perhaps most known for dying the Chicago River green during St. Patrick’s Day. The river is dyed on the morning of the parade. The dying process takes about 45 minutes, and, depending on weather, the river can stay green for several days. The river was turned green for the first time in 1962. Flour sifters filled with 40 pounds of environmentally friendly orange powder are used to turn the river a bright green. Two boats are used to spread out the color. 

Interested in learning more about St. Patick's Day. Check out The History Channel's graphic of St. Patty's Day facts.


Source: CNN, The Chicago Tribune

Winter Olympic Wrap-up

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, February 23, 2018

The past two weeks seem to have really flown by, as the 2018 Winter Olympics are coming to an end. Sunday night, the Games will conclude with the Olympics closing ceremony. PyeongChang will thank the athletes for their participation, just as it welcomed them during the Opening Ceremony. This year's Winter Olympics have been an exciting display of athleticism and talent. As of today, the total medal count for the top 10 scoring countries is as follows:


Highlights

Team USA had its fare share of memorable moments at the Games. Here are some of the top highlights from the Olympics thus far.


Hockey

The U.S. Women's Hockey Team beat rivals Canada in a 3-2 shootout. This was the first time the U.S. Women's team has one gold since 1998. The team has lost to Canada in 3 of the past 4 Olympic finals.


Curling

Another victory for the U.S. over Canada- the third-seeded Men's curling team, beat second-seeded Canada yesterday  in the Semi-finals. This was the first time the U.S. had advanced to the curling semi-finals since 2006, after defeating Switzerland and Great Britain. The Men's Curling finals will air on Saturday with the U.S. facing off against Sweden for the gold.


Figure Skating

U.S. figure skating saw some historic moments at the games this year, as multiple athletes set Olympic records. Competitor Mirai Nagasu became the first woman to land a triple axle in an Olympic competition, though in the end she finished tenth. Nathan Chen, the 17-year old Men's figure skating star, came back from a disappointing short program to ultimately land 5 quadruple flips - the most ever landed in one Olympic routine.


Snowboarding

The U.S. Team shined in Olympic snowboarding  events, gathering gold medals from stars like Chloe Kim, and Jamie Anderson. 17-year old Red Gerard won the first gold medal for the U.S. of the Olympics in the Men's slope style competition. Shaun White claimed his 3rd gold medal in the men's half pipe competition, after failing to place in the previous Winter Games.  

How to Watch

The Olympic closing ceremonies will air Sunday (2/25) at 8 pm on NBC. You can find a schedule of the remaining events here.

The Year of the Dog

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Lunar New Year began last week, and this year is the Year of the Dog. But what does that mean? Here is a little background on the Lunar New Year tradition.  


The Chinese calendar revolves around 12 animal zodiac signs. In order these animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

These animals are not as random as they may seem, the ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are some of the main animals domesticated by Chinese people and the rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey are all loved by the Chinese.

The animals rotate based on the idea of Yin and Yang, each animal is determined to be a yin or yang based upon the even or odd number of toes/hooves/paws they have. The yang attribute comes first followed by yin. This cycle repeats every 12 years.


This is the year of the dog, which means any person born in this year will have the dog as their Chinese zodiac symbol. Previous years of the dog include 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, and 1934.

Each zodiac animal is paired with a Celestial Stem (the elements of earth, wind, fire, and wood). These Celestial Stems rotate on a 60-year cycle. Your zodiac year and Celestial Stem pairing are believed to influence your personality traits and relationships with others. This year's Celestial Stem is Earth which means dogs born in this year " are stubborn and never give up. They aren’t very connected with the world and society. Though stubborn, they respect other perspectives. They believe that as long as they work hard, they’ll make it." There has not been a Year of the Dog with the Celestial Stem Earth since 1958.

The Year of the Dog will influence the year for other signs. Depending on how compatible certain signs are with the dog, they will have a successful or challenging year. The zodiac year will dictate how other signs should dress, decorate their homes, or act, if they want good fortune.

For those born in previous Years of the Dog, this year will be difficult. Your zodiac year is seen as a "hurdle you have to jump over" or hardship you must overcome. Traditionally, the way to protect oneself from evil spirits and bad luck during one's zodiac year was to wear red underwear everyday for the entire year. While this practice may not be widely observed by many Chinese today, bad fortune in one's zodiac year is still treated as a concern.

If you're interested in your Chinese zodiac, you can find out what the Year of the Dog will bring you here

2018 Olympics Opening Ceremony

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, February 09, 2018


The Winter Olympics began yesterday with opening ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea. Last night several events were broadcasted including mixed doubles curling, Men's figure skating short program, and downhill skiing trials.

Last night U.S. figure skater, 18-year old Nathan Chen competed in the Men's short, finishing fourth overall. Nathan was extremely hyped-up going into the winter games, as the only undefeated men's champion in the world. His performance last night was surprising, as he fell on his triple axle, turned one of his quadruple jumps into only a double jump, and then did not put a triple toe loop onto the end of his second quad. Nathan Chen was favored to win this event for the US and also was supposed to be the first person to land a quadruple flip, triple toe loop. Before the Olympics he achieved the record for being the first athlete in the world to land five quadruple jumps in his free skate program.


At the opening ceremonies last night, South Korea and North Korea walked under a unified flag. The two countries also have a combined Women's Hockey team. Two members of this team, Chung Su-hyon from North Korea and Park Jong-ah from South Korea, carried the Olympic torch during the ceremony. The torch was lit by South Korean figure skater and former 2010 Olympic gold medalist, Yu Na Kim.

Russian athletes marched under the neutral Olympic flag; they will be competing for the "Olympic Athletes of Russia." Russian athletes were not allowed to compete under their own flag this year as part of the country's punishment for a state sponsored doping scandal a the 2014 Sochi Olympics and at earlier competitions.


PyeongChang, South Korea is an very poor area in Gangwon, South Korea, the nation's most isolated and least developed province. PyeongChang has a population of only 43,000 and is located 80 miles from the capital of Seoul. It also shares a large boarder with North Korea. PyeongChang's first bid to host the Olympics was in 2010. The city re-applied in 2014, and finally was accepted to host the 2018. In preparation for the Olympics the government has  invested $13 billion in the region, creating new infrastructure such as a new bullet train and highway to expedite access to Seoul, as well as sporting facilities like ice rinks and ski slopes. It has been reported that after the Olympics, these facilities will be demolished.


The Winter Olympics includes events such as different skiing events, bobsled, curling, figure skating, biathlon, ice hockey, luge, speed skating, skeleton and snowboarding. The map above shows the most popular Winter Olympic events in every country. Hockey seems to dominate in countries with medal-winning hockey teams. The map shows that curling is also popular (probably more popular than one would expect) in many countries around the globe. 

If you're interested in watching this year's Olympic action, you can find a schedule of events  here.

Curious about more Olympics facts? Thrillist put together this handy graphic that tells you everything you would ever want to know...

Super Bowl $tats: The Cost of Super Bowl LII

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This Sunday, The New England Patriots will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. The Patriots have won 5 out of the 9 total Super bowls they have played in. Sunday will determine if Patriots' quarterback, Tom Brady, will receive his 6th Super Bowl win in his 8th Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles have appeared in 2 previous Super Bowls, though have never emerged victorious. The team took on the Patriots once before in 2004, losing 21-24 in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Sunday's game is sure to be exciting as the Patriots fight to hang onto their title as reigning Super Bowl Champions.

Super Bowl Sunday is definitely a heavily advertised event, but just how popular is it? You may be surprised to learn exactly how much money is spent by Americans on game day every year.

Super Bowl Stats

Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl every year. This means that over 100 million people see Super Bowl Ads. 

Over the last 50 years corporations have spent a total of $4.9 billion dollars on advertising during the Super Bowl. The current average cost of airspace for a 30- second commercial is $5 million dollars. 


Americans spend $1.2 billion dollars on beer for the Super Bowl and $1.1 billion on other alcohol.

$82 million dollars is spent on chicken wings alone - the most popular game day snack. 

Americans spend $1.4 billion dollars on Super Bowl parties, most of which is spent on food and drink. 

Snacks by State

According to Thrillist the most popular Super Bowl snacks in the states of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania (where the Patriots and Eagles have their home fields) are buffalo chicken dip and Potato Soup, respectively. In Minnesota (where they will play on Sunday) the most popular snack is Tater Tot Casserole.

Here is the most popular game day snacks by state: 

Alabama -- Mississippi Roast
Alaska -- Potato Salad
Arizona -- Chili
Arkansas -- Queso Cheese Dip
California -- Chicken Wings
Colorado -- Taco Pie
Connecticut -- Slow Cooker Chicken Wings
Delaware -- Butter Cake Bars
Florida -- Sausage Cheese Balls
Georgia -- Sliders
Hawaii -- Crescent Sloppy Joes
Idaho -- Little Smokies
Illinois -- Chex Mix
Indiana -- Root Beer Chicken
Iowa -- Pigs In A Blanket
Kansas -- Dill Pickle Soup
Kentucky -- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Lousiana -- Crab au Gratin
Maine -- Clam Dip
Maryland -- Pizza Sticks
Massachusetts -- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Michigan -- Potato Soup
Minnesota -- Tater Tot Casserole/Hot Dish
Mississippi -- Beef Stew
Missouri -- Hamburgers
Montana -- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Nebraska -- Hot Wings
Nevada -- Sausage Cheese Balls
New Hampshire -- Chili
New Jersey -- Chili
New Mexico -- Seven Layer Taco Dip
New York -- Buffalo Chicken Wings
North Carolina -- Sausage Cheese Balls
North Dakota -- Bacon-Wrapped Smokies
Ohio -- White Chicken Chili
Oklahoma -- Stuffed Mushrooms 
Oregon -- Taco Soup
Pennsylvania -- Potato Soup
Rhode Island -- Chili
South Carolina -- Cowboy Caviar
South Dakota -- Hummus
Tennessee -- Skillet Dips
Texas -- Sausage Cheese Balls
Utah -- Pulled Pork
Vermont -- Bruschetta
Virginia -- Deviled Eggs
Washington -- Jalapeno Popper Dip
West Virginia -- Sliders
Wisconsin -- Pinwheels
Wyoming -- Sliders

Super Bowl LII airs this Sunday, February 4th, at 6:30 pm on NBC

Don't have cable? Don't worry. Learn about other viewing options here.

Source: Parade

Top 5 Sledding Hills in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, January 19, 2018

Take advantage of the inevitable snowfall this season by planning a sledding outing for your family and international visitor. There are many hills in the Boston area that are perfect for sledding and easily accessible from your own home. Read about some of the best sledding hills below, and remember to bundle up! 


Flagstaff Hill on Boston Commons

Flagstaff Hill is one of the more populated sledding hills due to its convenient location in The Commons. The hill, located near the baseball diamond and next to Charles Street, is only a short distance from either Park Street or Boylston T stops. While your there you can also try public skating at Frog Pond and warm up with a hot chocolate from the snack bar.                              


Larz Anderson Park in Brookline

The Larz Anderson park is home to a public ice skating rink as well as rolling hills of all sizes, making it a really fun spot for winter activities. The park is a popular sledding area for families near Brookline and Boston, so on particularly snowy days it may be crowded. Nevertheless, it is still exciting. The park is also located near the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and The Putterham School, a one roomed school house from colonial times. 

Arnold Arboretum in Roslindale

The Arnold Arboretum is open year round and is easily accessible from the MBTA Orange Line station at Forrest Hills. The Arboretum, endowed as a department of Harvard University, covers 250 acres around Roslindale and Jamaica Plane neighborhoods.  The best place for sledding at the Arboretum is down Peter's Hill, one of the steepest ad longest sledding runs near Boston.


Danehy Park in Cambridge

Danehy Park was once a landfill that was then repurposed into public recreation area. As a popular destination for area residents from Spring to early Fall, Danhey Park hosts public events, sports games, and even includes a dog park. The 50-acre spot of land is also the highest point in Cambridge. Its tall hills make the park enjoyable in winter months as well.  After a heavy snowfall, the park has excellent terrain for sledding. 

Need to find other hills near you? You can find more info on sledding hills in the Great Boston Area, as well as on the North and South shores here. 

Need a sled? Sleds are generally inexpensive at most department stores, or you learn can DIY here.