Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaching American Slang To Teenagers In Sweden (And How To Meet Strangers Online)

If you told me a few years back that my blog would eventually end up in a textbook to teach English and English slang to kids in Sweden, I would have used way more slang words!  I write like I talk (for the most part) and I don't agonize over words to use that would make me appear like I am some brilliant intellectual writer.  Well, I am but that's besides the point.

At the beginning of my journey wandering the states three years ago, I wrote about my feelings, fears and mostly about what I did (if it was interesting enough).  Little did I know that my blog about meeting strangers in real life would end up in print in a Sweedish textbook.

I agreed and licensed my blog for them to use but really didn't know in what context they would use it.  I didn't really care but it was refreshing that they would reach out to pay me for my words instead of just using them or my photographs without reaching out to me first.

They used my blog I wrote on March 19th, 2009 titled "Meeting Strangers Online."  When I write blogs, I don't think too much about it.  I just sit down, write, add some pictures and click on "publish." I don't think about who reads it or where it might potentially go.  I am sure some of you are thinking, "um, yeah...I can tell."

I would have never guessed that someone in Sweden would think it was compelling enough to publish as a teaching tool to young minds.  I suppose in their eyes I fit into their idea of some crazy American lady that would travel around and meet strangers and other crazy people.  If that's what they were looking for, they found it!

 I am glad I did what I wrote about in the blog.  I met people that will be lifelong friends.  Was it a bit scary and unnerving?  Yes, of course!  Most people would tell me that meeting a guy who lives full time in a van would not be the best idea in the world for a solo female traveler (it really isn't so do not think I am telling you do do this) but I did anyway and that wasn't the last time I met up with him.  We hit it off right away and became friends. The same goes for Cat who is a dear friend to me now.

After I wrote this blog, I went on to meet many more "strangers" who are now part of my extended family.  I will write a blog about each one someday.  For now, here are some iphone images of the book that kids are learning from in Sweeden.  At the bottom of each page there is a blue strip to help kids understand what my words and phrases mean like, "creature of habit", "what the heck" (I approved "heck" over the word I originally used), "keep in touch", "hit it off", "branch out", "pig out"  and words like "killer" "Trailie" and "creepy".

The best part is the Q and A at the end of the blog entry. I had to think about some of the questions to see if I could answer them on a blog I wrote years ago.  There is a section to "read and reflect" and then to "reflect and share."  It was a good chance for me to reflect and share as well.  Here are the questions if you care to reflect and share (you can read the original blog HERE):

1. Why was Dave a tad creepy, according to Alison? Would you have met him? Why?
2. Which meeting did Alison seem to enjoy the most? Why? (I don't think I said anything about enjoying one more over the others but I suppose that is up to the reader to interpret.)
3. Have you ever met a stranger in the same way that Alison did?
4. Why are we such creatures of habit?
5. What have you done outside of your routine that has changed your life?
6. Would you travel across America in just a trailer? Why? If you were going, what safety precautions would you take?

I would like to know your answers to the bottom half of the questions.  I guess I didn't think it was a big deal at the time and continued to meet more strangers long after this post was written.  I still haven't had a dangerous encounter but then again, I am pretty cautious on who I meet in person.

I think stepping out of our comfort zone is the only way we will grow as a person and learn more about ourselves and others.  Give it a try if you haven't.  I bet you will be glad you did.


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