Independence Day in the United States, celebrated each year on Fourth of July, is an excellent way to observe aspects of American culture on display. For international educators, experiencing cultural events alongside your American colleagues may be part of why you wanted to teach in the U.S. in the first place! Here are some ways you can make the most of Independence Day celebrations in your area.
1. Find local celebrations
Did you know that Boston, Massachusetts, was one of the first cities in the U.S. to designate Fourth of July an official holiday, in 1786? Each city or town has its own traditions for commemorating Independence Day, but the most common celebrations usually include fireworks, parades, live music, and picnics or barbecues. Find out what’s happening in your area through local news sites or by asking around. A fireworks display held after dark is a fun way to end an exciting day spent with family or friends by a pool or at a cookout. Even in small towns that lack a parade or fireworks, American flags are proudly displayed from buildings or light posts in the days leading up to Independence Day, and some neighborhoods also encourage residents to share their flags of origin to illustrate the rich, culturally diverse tapestry of the community. Consider joining in the spirit by putting up your flag along with red, white, and blue decorations or dressing in patriotic colors for the day.
2. Gather with friends and family
Make the most of Independence Day by celebrating alongside the people you care about, especially with food. Don’t let your culinary creativity be limited by sticking to the typical Fourth of July foods like grilled meats and fresh summer fruits and vegetables. As a cultural exchange teacher, celebrating American traditions is important, but there are always ways to bring in elements of your own food and culture, too. Perhaps you could grill meats or still use fresh produce, but season them as you would at home. As the United States grows and becomes increasingly diverse, using food to tell your story is an authentic way to celebrate and honor your heritage during a very American holiday.
3. Reflect and compare to cultural traditions at home
Celebrating holidays can often create feelings of longing and nostalgia for one’s own culture and the family left behind at home. Give a loved one a call or video chat with them to catch up and reminisce on holidays you’ve spent together. Talk about your plans for celebrating the Fourth of July, or what you plan to do instead! Here in the U.S., sharing stories with new friends about your memories of major holidays in your home country is a good way to start a dialogue about how holidays can be imbued with underlying cultural values that are deeply rooted in one’s national identity. As you join in for celebrations of Independence Day this Fourth of July, reflect on how you’ve seen Americans express a commitment to values like freedom and equality, and soak in the experience. You never know what you might learn about your own cultural values in the process.
Our ambassador teachers come from all over the world to share their rich cultural diversity with students and are enriched both professionally and personally during the cultural exchange experience. Did you know that past and current ambassador teachers can refer a fellow teacher from home to our program and earn cash rewards if that teacher is accepted? Learn more about our referral program at this webpage.