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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Exchange students discover new traditions

  • Amaelle Caron came to the United States from France as an exchange student, but she wasn't quite prepared for American holiday traditions.
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  • Amaelle Caron came to the United States from France as an exchange student, but she wasn't quite prepared for American holiday traditions.
    She said though French people typically spend time with family and decorate trees in December, other holidays, such as Halloween, aren't nearly as big of a deal in France, and some, such as Thanksgiving, aren't celebrated at all.
    “There was so much food,” Caron said. “We had leftovers for days.”
    Caron is staying with Scott and Joy Hohmann and their children Jayme and Liam Brown. The family spent Thanksgiving with relatives. Caron said her favorite food items were mashed potatoes and a Lithuanian potato stuffing that has been in the family for generations.
    Caron said she was also surprised at how big Halloween celebrations are in the United States. She said while French people know about Halloween, it isn't celebrated as much there as it is here.
    Even Christmas, which Caron said is a big holiday in France, comes with different traditions. While some families in the United States wake up early Christmas day to open presents, Caron said French families stay up until 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve opening presents, playing games and dressing up.
    Still, Caron said traditions aren't tied as much to countries as they are to individuals.
    “I don't think there are any 'French' traditions,” Caron said. “It's like America. Everyone has their own.”
    For the Hohmann family, learning about holiday traditions has become something of a tradition of their own. The family has hosted many foreign exchange students through the years, and they do what they can to make their visitors feel at home.
    Joy Hohmann said the family talks to exchange students about traditions from their home countries and tries to incorporate them into their own celebrations. Often, this takes the form of food, from almond rice pudding to garlic soup.
    “You just talk about what you're doing so they know what's going on,” Joy Hohmann said. “We think it's hard for them to be away from home during the holidays, so we try to make them something to remind them of home.”
    Jayme Brown had a chance to see things from the exchange students' perspective when she went to Brazil. She said while Christmas is celebrated there, she thought the focus was more on communities than family.
    “It was like a huge party,” Jayme Brown said. “I didn't know half of what was going on, and it didn't feel like the Christmas I knew-though that might be because it's summer there in December.”
    Caron said she's glad she's had the chance to experience different traditions firsthand.
    “For me, it's interesting,” Caron said. “If you're curious, you should check it out.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Joy and Scott Hohmann said learning about other cultures is an important step in increasing patience and understanding.
    “It makes you more tolerant of ethnic groups as opposed to being judgmental just because they do things different,” Scott Hohmann said. “It creates a little more peace and harmony.”
    Contact Josh Arnett by email at jarnett@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.
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