Mary Biediger – Independence day in Rome

It was very interesting to spend a widely celebrated American holiday in Italy. On American Independence Day (the Fourth of July), I spent the morning teaching the four-year-olds I work with about the holiday and about American independence. Only one or two of the students are American, and I was surprised to find out that they did not know much about the holiday. In the United States, I usually spend the Fourth of July grilling hamburgers and hot dogs with my family, swimming, and ending the night watching fireworks from the balcony at my house. Sometimes we even pop our own fireworks, which I always enjoy, so it was hard to imagine spending the day without them. However, I enjoyed sharing my heritage and traditions with the children at La Maisonnette.

I explained to the children that Americans celebrate the Fourth of July every year to remember the finalization of the Declaration of Independence and the freedom that we have in America because of it. I also told them that Americans celebrate with fireworks and barbecue. After we discussed the importance of the day, the children made patriotic Fourth of July crowns. They painted the pre-cut crowns with red and white stripes to represent the American flag and added blue stars to complete it. I also explained to them that the 13 stripes on the flag represent the thirteen original colonies and that the fifty stars represent the fifty states. The activity was also educational because the children learned about patterns (alternating red and white stripes) and painting in a straight line. While we were doing these activities, I also played several patriotic songs, such as Yankee Doodle and Grand Ol’ Flag, for the children and they really enjoyed dancing to the songs.

When I got home from work, my roommates and I decided that, if we were going to be obnoxious Americans in Italy on one day this summer, it would have to be on the Fourth of July. So we decided to venture into a Burger King and get some hamburgers and French fries for the first time since we have been here. I was not expecting the food to be good, especially since I don’t normally eat fast food even in America, but it was surprisingly delicious. I’m not sure if it was so good because I hadn’t had a hamburger in over a month or if it was actually good, but either way I was happy.

While I may not have been able to grill hamburgers with my family and enjoy our swimming pool and pop fireworks, I would say that I had a successful and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday in Italy. I loved teaching the children at La Maisonnette about America and about my culture. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to spend an American holiday abroad and it made me more aware that not every culture in the world is similar to that of America.