Introducing Canada via Stereotypes

On Monday morning a few ALTs, including myself, went to an elementary school to give brief presentations on our respective home countries. Unfortunately, I had to get up super early to make it into the city on time for the start of school. It ended up being worth it, though, as the kids seemed really excited to have us there, and the short introduction they gave on Canada before introducing me was worth the trip in. Let me explain. We were told that the kids were doing a “passport” project, in which they theoretically travelled around to different countries and got their passport stamped. We would represent our home countries and the children would approach us, ask us questions and we would give them a sticker of our flag for their passport books. Prior to this, we would be introduced to the school in an assembly. We were told to have a brief presentation prepared to introduce ourselves and our country. The kids, before our introduction, gave us a presentation of Japan and some of the traditions that are native to the country (origami, sumo, etc). Then they gave a short powerpoint which presented each of our countries through a question and answer game. For example, for New Zealand they showed the kiwi bird, and asked what the name of the bird was, and its country or origin showing the bird beside a picture of the kiwi fruit before showing the correct answers: Kiwi and New Zealand. For Jamaica, they showed pictures of famous exports, and asked which was most popular (coffee was the answer). But Canada was, to me, the most hilarious. I expected a picture of the CN Tower to appear on the screen, or perhaps the Rocky Mountains, or another great shot of the vastness of Canadian nature, or maybe even a picture of a beaver or Justin Beiber (apparently the most famous things from our great country in the eyes of the Japanese). No, for our introduction, up on the screen: a smashed car; a car completely totaled. I thought, “what poor country are they trying to show with this picture?” Then the question “what caused this accident?” appeared. I notice that the car is totaled only on the top half, the hood remaining mostly intact. I only know of one way cars get damaged this way. I look around and everyone is staring blankly, thinking to themselves, “what country is this supposed to be introducing?” or “what country would cause distinct accidents such as this?” As I look around at the blank faces, I realize it is Canada; and that car most definitely hit a moose. As the answer is shown, a giant moose with a size comparison next to the damaged car (and a Canadian flag shown proudly above), the other ALTs look at me. I shrug and say “it’s true, that’s what happens”. And so this is how Canada was introduced to a school of elementary students. In my introduction after that I mostly just rambled on about maple syrup. I thought about doing a speech inspired by a Molson’s “I AM CANADIAN” commercial, but figured I should save that for at least Junior High kids. Kids would come up to me and for the question required for the stamp, ask “Do you like maple?” and I would reply “Of course, I am Canadian”. It’s funny, sometimes, how much each of us fills our stereotypes for our respective countries, but I can say with great pride that I am happy I am representing Canada!

(Side note: NONE OF MY FRIENDS KNOW WHO WAYNE GRETZKY IS! NONE OF THEM! Some also seemed to find it hilarious that I, while living at home, always have a bottle of maple syrup in the fridge – as do almost all people I know – because we actually do eat maple syrup quite a lot.)

That’s all for now! Until next time,

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