Travel around the world through others


Guest author Starla pointer spent a winter semester in England 40 years ago as part of the Linfield study abroad. She said it was a wonderful way to learn more about the world as well as a specific academic subject. Over the years she travels virtually by watching YouTube videos over. looks at
Walks, bus or train rides, and by writing news register stories about the customs of transplants remotely.

We arrived in Oxford, England, on the evening of January 2, 1982, after flying out of Seattle at midnight on New Years Day. We’d jumped ahead somewhere across Greenland in time and were stunned by customs at Heathrow Airport before getting on a bus.

My Linfield colleagues and I woke up the next morning in the “City of Dreaming Towers,” a nickname appropriate to a place full of churches and spiers from the 45 colleges of Oxford University.

Since we lived with families in a bourgeois housing estate during our five-week Jan Term course, we experienced everyday life in England in addition to visiting the famous Bodleian Library; the haunts of Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh, and CS Lewis; and near Blenheim Palace.

It was normal; it was exotic; a dream came true; it was a Monty Python sketch. We were the slowest people walking the streets, the loudest speakers, the somewhat ugly – but still big-eyed and eager – Americans.

We got to know the youth and inexperience of our own country while visiting pubs that had served pints for centuries. The World War II story we had only read about arrived at home as we stood inside the bombed-out hull of Coventry Cathedral, whose crumbling walls remained as a memorial to the fallen.

We also noticed the similarities between other parts of the world and our own: When half a meter of snow fell on our first Friday, we found that Oxford was about as prepared for winter as McMinnville.

Determined to come to class that day, I got on the first bus that showed up after a long, long wait. My roommates slipped back into our accommodation.

As a lonely stranger in a strange, snow-covered country, I drove for hours through Oxfordshire and ended up at the junction of High Street and Broad Street – the first place that seemed vaguely familiar. Steam rose from one corner from chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

It was just one of many adventures I went on in England when our class studied the legends of King Arthur with Professor Katherine Kernberg. We visited places where Arthur and his knights are said to have pursued their search, as well as Stonehenge, Winchester Cathedral, Bath and Buckingham Palace.

During our last week in London, I made a side train visit to Watford to see where Elton John’s soccer team played and visited several art museums. Thank goodness I took the required art surveying course at Linfield.

I regret that I have never returned to Oxford, England or any place in any country other than Canada since then. But it strengthened my desire to get to know other places and people around the world.

I was fortunate enough to do this by interviewing Yamhill County residents who have emigrated from dozens of other locations. I’ve even expanded my definition of “different” to include Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, which are United States but unique in their own way, especially when it comes to the holidays.

For my annual December series, I ask two main questions to people born elsewhere: First, how did you celebrate Christmas or, if not this holiday, New Year’s Eve or other special events in your country? Second, how do you celebrate these days?

As we talk about the holidays – the music, the decorations, the food, the meaning – they tell their stories about how they grew up there and how they come here.

How they heard planes over the European battlefields during the holiday season of World War II, as was the case with the late Ted Lopuzsynski, who was driven from his native Poland as a child.

How families celebrated Las Posadas by walking door to door in Mexico, imitating the journey of Mary and Joseph. In 2017, Ignacio Veles, owner of Noah’s Bakery, shared memories of Las Posadas in his hometown of Buenos Aires, saying, “Mexicans feel like Christmas. It feels special. “

How they put up a Christmas tree in the warm December weather of the southern hemisphere, as the farmer Bruce Ruddenklau of Amity did when he was growing up in New Zealand, or admired the lights on the Eiffel Tower and the Avenue des Champs- É lysé, as did the deceased Frances Charbonnier when she was growing up in Paris.

How they walked around their house at midnight on December 31st and then came in to toast the New Year has been told by several Scots and Brits over the years, including Mike Roberts of Newberg, whom I portrayed on December 14th.

How they fasted in Ramadan, celebrated the Diwali festival of lights or participated in the Buddhist water festival every April. Kate Miller, from Kate’s Thai Cuisine Food Truck, whom I met in 2020, remembered how comfortable the water festival felt in the hot climate of Bangkok, Thailand.

How they spread their shoes as children on December 5th in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nicholas or some other variant of a benevolent, best-giving saint. Joka Moree, one of my favorite interviewees last year, knew that she would find a chocolate J and marzipan candy in the shoes she was exhibiting in the Netherlands.

How much Joka, Kate, Mike, and everyone else loved getting together with their families and friends, sharing special foods, reminiscing, and giving kids treats.

These are common at the festivities of almost everyone, everywhere and at any time.

This year I added two very familiar countries to my “Holiday Traditions” story list, England and France; one who was somewhat familiar, Portugal; and I hadn’t studied or attended three before, not even through the eyes of others.

Mali was completely new to me, a landlocked country in north-west Africa bordering Algeria; Bangladesh, a tiny country on the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar; and Georgia, a country in Eastern Europe where it meets Asia. The New Year celebrations and other holiday traditions of these countries will be presented on Tuesday, December 27th.

I hope you have already read about my new friends from other places in the stories posted earlier this month.

The Coehlos grew up in the United States, but their two families were deeply connected to their Portuguese heritage. The couple who make wine in Amity are continuing those traditions over the holidays today, as you read in the December 22nd newspaper.

Roberts, who had moved here from England, also remembered going to Cornwall with his family to play on the beach and eat big, hearty ice cream. Today he makes similar ice cream in his shop in Newberg.

And Lisa Bernard from the Rhône Valley in France is a cook who makes authentic French pastries at Carlton Bakery. I loved hearing their stories of sharing French Christmas cake rolls or B che de Noë l with their family back home and their in-laws in Pittsburgh.

It was a pleasure to get to know Lisa and to carefully test my rusty French. I’m afraid I did a lot more work for her since she said the bakery received numerous orders for the Christmas cakes after the story.

C’est la vie, I suppose. So life is.

Work, memories and food. This is christmas


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