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Welcome to Boston Homestay - American Councils Group!18-Oct-2019

A group of Fellows with American Councils (https://www.americancouncils.org/) from a variety of coun..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Silkeborg Gymnasium Group!04-Oct-2019

Global Immersions is happy to welcome a large group of visitors from Silkeborg Gymnasium (https:..

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Holidays Around The World in November

Global Immersions - Monday, November 07, 2011

Americans associate the month of November with Thanksgiving as it celebrated by all Americans regardless of religion.  What other global holidays are there during November? Let’s take a look!

Thanksgiving Day – United States of America

The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its roots back to 1621 at Plymouth. In 1621 the Thanksgiving feast was prompted by the colonists’ successful harvest. The Plymouth colony did not have enough food to support half of the colony and so the Wampanoag Native Americans provided seeds and taught the pilgrims to fish. The feast did not become an annual festivity until the late 1660s. The feast was to give thanks for a good harvest and for the hard work done in communities. In the beginning of the 20th century Thanksgiving fell on the final Thursday of November. President Abraham Lincoln, in order to create a sense of unity between the Northern and Southern states, declared that the final Thursday would be reserved for Thanksgiving. However, on December 26th 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November through federal legislation. His reason for doing so was to give the country an economic boost because the last Thursday of November fell too closely to Christmas.

Kinrō Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day) - Japan

On the 23rd of November, Japan celebrates labor and production and giving one another thanks. Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha no Hi) is the modern day name for Niiname-sai (Harvest Festival) and was held in the imperial court. In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season’s first offering of harvested rice to the gods and then eats the rice himself. The oldest written account of the holiday dates back to 720, which says that a Harvest Festival took place in November 678. The actual origin, however, is said to date back even longer, possibly 2,000 years back when rice was first cultivated. After World War II, Labor Thanksgiving Day was marked as a national holiday to mark the fact that fundamental human and expansion of workers rights were guaranteed.

Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) – Observed by Muslims around the world

Eid al-Adha is a religious holiday that lasts for three days and is celebrated all across the world by Muslims commemorating Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael, for God as an act of obedience. God spared Ishmael and provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Muslims commemorate this holiday by slaughtering a sheep, camel, or cow. One third of the meat is distributed to the poor, another third is to neighbors and relatives, and the last third to be kept within the family who offered the sacrifice. Eid al-Adha takes place on the 10th and last day of the Hajj (the celebration of holy pilgrimage to Mecca) in the 12 month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In the year 2011, the celebration was on November 6th on Western calendars.

Independencia de Cartagena (Independence of Cartagena) – Colombia

On November 11, 1811, Cartagena became the first province to declare independence from the Spanish Crown. The holiday is officially celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11th, though festivals and street fairs take place for days around the actual holiday. The “November Feasts” consist of parade floats and dancers inspired by African and Caribbean rhythms. Foam, paint, water, and flour are typically thrown during the street festivals at anyone who may look remotely clean. Concurso Nacional de Belleza (National Beauty Contest) is held at the same time as the Independence holiday. This event is more of a commercial event where the coronation of the next Miss Colombia takes place. With these two major events occurring at the same time, one can only imagine how crazy Cartagena can get before and on November 11th!

Do you know of any other holidays that occur in November?  Tell us how you celebrate any of these holidays in your country!





Brazilian Exposure

Global Immersions - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Brazilian Cultural Center of New England located in Cambridge is dedicated to the promotion, preservation and advancement of Brazilian culture, especially Afro-Brazilian culture and the performing arts.   At the center, you can take part in Capoeira Angola (Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, sports, and music. Capoeira Angola refers to all styles of Capoeira that is kept close to tradition), Roda or Maculelê, which are both Afro-Brazilian dances, or even Samba nights!   These workshops are a great way to add a little Latin flavor in your life!   For upcoming events and classes, check out their website here.

If you are a “foodie” and want a taste of Brazilian cuisine head to Inman Square in Cambridge.   Local favorites include Muqueca Restaurant, located at 1008 Cambridge Street, known for their authentic Brazilian dishes and Bom Café, a quaint little spot, located at 1093 Cambridge Street.

Tell us about your favorite Brazilian restaurant in the metro area!




Explore Boston - Inman Square

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For an eclectic and culturally diverse neighborhood that is off the beaten track, look no further than Inman Square in Cambridge. Inman Square is an excellent representation of Boston as a whole due to its local feel, diverse population, independently-owned stores, and large variety of food options. As one yelp.com reviewer stated, “Sandwiched in between Harvard and MIT, this little neighborhood shares a unique blend of local and international flavor.” Artsy, eclectic, and ethnic, Inman Square is a great neighborhood all by itself!

Inman Square by Claire M. McLaughlin

Inman Square is the perfect location to find local businesses, restaurants, and nightlife without the crowds of Harvard Square or downtown. Local favorites such as S&S Restaurant, Christina’s Ice Cream, Dali, and City Girl Café compromise some of the area’s best eats, while hang out spots such as Bukowski Tavern, The Druid, and Thirsty Scholar provide all-night entertainment. For music and nightlife, Inman Square’s Ryles Jazz Club and LilyPad provide some of the most intimate and interesting live music in the city.   Check out http://www.inmansquare.com/ for additional resources.

Inman Square is also home to a large Portuguese and Brazilian population, adding an extra degree of energy and diversity to the area. From restaurants to local travel agencies and credit unions, the Portuguese and Brazilian influence is hard to miss in the square.

Have you danced the night away at Ryles, or savored the tapas at Dali? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!





The Many Challenges of Speaking English

Global Immersions - Friday, September 30, 2011

Have you ever traveled abroad and noticed a sign in English that makes no sense or has been literally translated into English?  They are often very funny and for an English speaker it is cause for a good laugh!  Let’s relate this same translation concept to our homestay visitors and how easy miscommunication can happen between the host and visitor due to misuse of a word. 

Our homestay visitors are all learning English and come to our program with varied degrees of understanding and comprehension.   Adjusting to a new country on your own and translating everything you want to say can be tiresome and challenging especially for those with lower level English skills.   

When a visitor is trying to express themselves in English, some words may get lost in translation and come across as sounding odd or nonsensical just like the translated signs. Many words used may not have a direct translation or might only be used in specific sentences, thus creating confusion for the host.  When you are communicating with your visitor, remember the visitor might not know the correct word to use or how to use it to convey their question or idea so patience is important.

Here are a few examples of signs found in other countries that have been translated into English, word for word, to start a conversation with your visitor about the many challenges of speaking English!






Cultural Events - DÜNYA Concert

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In order to provide both our hosts and visitors with additional information about the many cultural events and locations in Boston, the Local Ethnic Resources and Cultural Events guides will highlight some of the more unique and diverse spots around town. From little-known ethnic grocery stores to big-name musical shows, Bostonians and visitors alike can use the guides to enjoy more of what Boston has to offer.

Next weekend, be sure to check out the special CD release concert of DÜNYA's A Story of the City: Constantinople, Istanbul, which is currently on the Grammy ballot. DÜNYA Organization's goal is to present a contemporary view of a wide range of Turkish traditions, alone and in interaction with other world traditions, through performance, publication and other educational activities. The concert will bring together several DÜNYA ensembles to perform upbeat selections from the CD program including Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Sephardic Jewish and Ottoman music.

To find out more about DÜNYA visit their website at: http://www.dunyainc.org/

DÜNYA Special CD Release Concert

Location: First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden St. Cambridge, MA
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1, 8pm
Price of Admission: General $15, Students/Seniors $10

Explore Boston - Back Bay

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The next stop on the Explore Boston series is the affluent neighborhood of Back Bay. Known for its’ historic architectural landmarks, shopping, and trademark brick row houses, Boston’s Back Bay is a major center for both locals and tourists alike.

Located in the heart of Back Bay, the celebrated Copley Square invites visitors to marvel at architectural masterpieces of world stature from the medieval, classical, and modern traditions, all within the same view. Notable structures on the square include the Old South Church and Trinity Church, both completed in the 1870s, as well as the Boston Public Library, boasting the first public library in the United States. Nearby, Copley Place provides a vast assortment of shopping, restaurants, offices, and hotels to the area. In addition to the buildings, Copley Square’s sculptures, fountains, and park grounds provide visitors with ample opportunity to relax and hang out while enjoying the beautiful backdrop.  

Boston's Copley Square

Another institution in the Back Bay neighborhood is Boston’s premier shopping destination, Newbury Street. With an enormous selection of shops, restaurants, and galleries, The Back Bay sums up the area perfectly: “from internationally renowned designers and luxury brands to the more bohemian establishments, there is hardly a better way to experience the cosmopolitan flavor of Boston than on the sidewalks of Newbury Street.”

Back Bay’s charming boulevards and café’s offer some of the best places in the city to walk around, or enjoy Boston’s four distinct seasons. From strolling down the tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue, to window shopping and people watching on Newbury Street, Back Bay is one of the most beautiful and exciting places in all of Boston.

Farther away, Back Bay’s Hatch Shell and Charles River Esplanade compromise some of the most picturesque river views throughout all of Boston. With 6 miles of walkways and bike paths, boathouses, play grounds, soccer fields, and more, the esplanade is one of the most frequently populated locations in all of Boston.

Have you visited Boston’s Back Bay? If not, now is your chance! If you are are Global Immersions host or visitor, join us at the Hatch Shell on Saturday, September 17th for our Explore Boston event at the 2011 MixFest! Meet us outside of the Charles/MGH “T” station at 4pm. We hope to see you there!


The Back Bay


Different Cultures - Different Chips

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, August 26, 2011

Though different cultures and people worldwide eat a variety of different foods, there’s at least one thing we all have in common – potato chips. As Vicki Santillano of Divine Caroline states, “we think of potato chips as being quintessentially American, [but] they’re a popular snack in countries all over the world.” The different flavors, however, may not be quite what you expect. Here are a few of the unique favors from around the world:

1. Fries 'n Gravy, Canada

2. Wasabi Beef, Japan


3. Mango Flavor, China

Photo source: zieak (cc)


4. New Yorker's Street Cheese Dog, Japan


5. Spanish Chicken Paella, UK

6. Lime 'n' Masala Masti, India 

Slowly but surely, the U.S. is catching up with our foreign snack-food counterparts and creating fun, unique flavors to excite our taste buds! What is your favorite chip flavor from your country? Let us know!

Sources:  Divine Caroline

Host Event - Journey Through Japan

Patty Brownlee - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Global Immersions Homestay values its relationship with hosts, and works hard to build meaningful and lasting experiences between hosts, visitors, and our organization. In order for our hosts to gain deeper insight into the daily lives of their visitors, Global Immersions Homestay organizes quarterly host events that focus on the different cultures of our visitors. The events often include a “hot topic” discussion related to hosting that provides an opportunity to exchange information and insights; our seasoned hosts are able to share their expertise, and new hosts are able to learn new tips and tools of the trade. The host events act as a great way to bring our Global Immersions network together, and help to create a positive homestay experience for all involved.

Our summer host event, Journey through Japan, focused on the country and culture of Japan. Throughout the years, Global Immersions has provided numerous quality homestay services to individuals of all ages from Japan, from middle school students to working professionals. This year alone, Global Immersions has placed over 300 Japanese students in homestays, and we continue to support and maintain our esteemed Japanese relations.

Host event panelists discussing differences in culture between the US and Japan.

The highlight of the event was a Japanese panel discussion. The panel included three Japanese professionals who live and work in Boston and have an in-depth understanding of both U.S. and Japanese culture. The panel answered questions regarding various aspects of culture, including differences in communication styles, food, and daily life. Hosts and panelists discussed the different nuances of Japanese culture, such as differences in bowing, non-verbal communication, and dinner-table etiquette. Hosts were able to share experiences, ask questions, and learn more about the visitors they host from Japan. The event also included a variety of delicious Japanese foods, host prizes, host appreciation awards, and a donation table for the relief efforts in Japan.

Several of the hosts expressed their appreciation for the event, noting that “the three panelists were absolutely charming,” and gave “great, helpful, practical advice.”

Japanese panelist joking with hosts.

The event also focused on the relief efforts that are currently going on in Japan
following the recent earthquake and tsunami. As many hosts throughout the years have greatly benefited from and enjoyed their time with Japanese visitors, Global Immersions Homestay felt strongly the need to give back to our many friends in Japan. Local charitable foundations such as panelist Atsushi Tanimura’s project “B2J” were highlighted; more information can be found at: http://www.supera2c.com/A2C_Productions/A2C_Productions.html

Donation table for relief efforts in Japan.

Do you live in the Boston metro area and have an extra bedroom?  Would you like to learn more about other cultures?  Do you like making friends from around the world?  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a host with Global Immersions Homestay, contact us today or visit Boston Homestay Programs to learn more about our programs.

Boston Bikes!

Global Immersions - Tuesday, August 09, 2011

When the weather is nice in Boston, there is no better way to explore the city than by bike. With the recent introduction of the Hubway bike sharing program, getting around Boston has never been easier!

Hubway bike station in Boston

Joining Hubway is simple and affordable, allowing users to purchase a 24-hour, 3-day, or Annual membership for $5, $12, or $85, respectively. Riders can join at any bike station kiosk, and each trip under thirty minutes is free after initial payment (usage fees rise incrementally: under 1 hour is $2, under 2 hours is $14, etc.), designed to empower users to make relatively quick, short distance rides around town.

As Hubway continues to expand, the city of Boston likewise aims to become a world-class bicycling city. As Senator John Kerry notes, “Biking is becoming a bigger part of urban transportation every day, and Boston has led the way incorporating bikes into the city. Now with this new bike share program, we’re on track to remain one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation.”

For visitors who are new to the Boston area, renting a bike can be a great way to explore Boston at a low cost. With over 600 bikes at 60 locations, Hubway can be found nearby many of the universities and language centers throughout the city. Global Immersions encourages international visitors in the Boston area to try biking as a way to exercise, have fun, and learn more about our city!

For more information about Hubway and bike sharing in Boston visit:
http://www.thehubway.com/ or   http://www.cityofboston.gov/bikes/

Explore Boston - Government Center

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, August 05, 2011

Boston’s Government Center is one of the most visited and recognized places in all of Boston. Home to Boston City Hall and directly across from Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Government Center is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike to shop, eat, and enjoy the outdoor entertainment.

Boston Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall

Located in the heart of downtown Boston, Government Center provides a space for many outdoor events at both City Hall Plaza and Faneuil Hall. Throughout the summer months thousands of people come together to attend festivals, plays, circuses, or other happenings that often take place on the Plaza. Street performers also add to the fun of the setting, providing free entertainment all day long throughout the warmer months.

Government Center is also a well-known location for some of the best food and shops around Boston. At Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, visitors can explore one of the oldest festival marketplaces in the United States. As
www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com states about the area, “[it is] alive today as it was in 1742 when our nation's fathers proclaimed it ‘The Cradle of Liberty,’ it combines the glories of Boston's past with the urban sophistication of the city today.”

If you are a Global Immersions Homestay visitor or host, please join Global Immersions for our Explore Boston Summer Event on August 18th, 2011 for the Boston Greenfest in Government Center! Learn the many ways we can create a better world by greening our lives and our communities, and enjoy the interactive exhibits, presentations, and continuous live entertainment all night long!


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