Tag Archives: America

It’s Election Day – Learn About Elections Around the World

Today is Election Day in the United States. It’s an important day in which citizens exercise their right to vote for people to represent them at the city, county, state, and national levels.

Elections date back to ancient Greece and Rome. They have been used to elect the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

In India, elections were held at the village level.

Ancient Arabs used elections to select their leader, called the caliph.

To be a good citizen, Americans have to educate themselves about the issues, decide which are the most important to them, research the candidates for public office, and cast their ballot on Election Day.

Many Americans also volunteer for political campaigns. They might go door to door with information about the candidates and the issues to educate others. They might make phone calls to voters to provide resources and information. They may work to put together a mailing or help create a website.

Political involvement doesn’t begin when the polls open on Election Day and end when they close. To truly participate in the democratic process, Americans have to stay engaged throughout the year so they can hold their representatives accountable.

Once candidates take office, Americans need to communicate with them to ensure that they continue to support the positions that mean the most to the voters. If a candidate seems to be listening to a minority of powerful and influential people and ignoring the concerns of the citizens who elected them, people have to contact those representatives and hold them accountable for their choices.

Americans are very fortunate to have one of the most responsive systems of government in the world. But many other countries also vote. Here’s a list of nations and how their leaders are chosen.

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

About 112 countries hold direct elections for their head of state. A direct election means that voters directly cast their ballots for the person or political party they want to support. More than 220 countries (including dependent territories) hold direct elections at the local level.

The United States holds indirect elections for the head of state, also known as the president. Indirect elections mean that voters cast their ballots for a representative who will select a candidate for president.

To learn more about elections around the world, check out Elections 101 from PBS Kids and Democracy Around the World from PBS Teachers.

If you’re interested in participating in a vote just for children, check out The Global Vote on issues that affect children around the world.

Happy Election Day!

 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Learn, Middle East

A Cookie By Any Other Name

palmiers

Photo: Real Simple

Known as palmiers in France, palmeritas in Spanish, ventaglio in Italian, and elephant ears in English, these little cookies have a devoted, global following.

It is believed that they are French in origin, where their name translates to “palm leaves.”

They are widely available in bakeries and from companies such as Goya, but they are also easy to make – so long as you don’t try to make your own puff pastry!

Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten that was posted on www.foodnetwork.com. Try it and let me know what you think.

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Filed under Eat, Europe

Cinco de Mayo

Although it’s not one of Mexico’s official federal holidays, Cinco de Mayo is growing in popularity as an opportunity for Mexicans and particularly Mexican-Americans to celebrate their cultural heritage.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Pueblo in 1862 when Mexican forces won an important victory against the French who had invaded the country in an attempt to get Mexico to continue making payments on a debt.

Although France eventually occupied Mexico and even named an emperor, Maximilian I, they did not hold the country for long.

It is believed that Cinco de Mayo first began as a symbol of Mexican resistance to the French occupation.

Today, most people celebrate with food, music, and dancing.

Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy – it’s a summer favorite for my family and me. Vamos a comer!

Corn and Black Bean Salad (also can be served with tortilla chips)

1 can yellow corn

1 can black beans

1/2 medium onion, minced

1/2 green bell pepper, minced

1/2 red pepper, minced

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or use 1 clove of garlic, finely minced)

1 tbsp. lime juice

Cilantro (for garnish)

1/4 tsp. chili powder (optional)

Open the cans of corn and black beans and rinse in a colander. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Can be served immediately or for richer flavor, allow to marinate well before serving. Can be served over lettuce, with rice, or tortilla chips.

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To Form A More Perfect Union

images-3I think that sometimes people misunderstand what motivates me to learn about other people and cultures.  To some, this interest appears a little disloyal to the country of my birth, the United States of America, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like a lot of people, I don’t think I really understood what it meant to be an American before I left the country.  Until I was forced to consider how Americans are perceived – both good and bad – I never really questioned what my nationality meant to me.

The opportunity to talk to people in the comfort of their own countries about the United States made me realize that beyond the freedom that we often take for granted, America is an important symbol of acceptance.  In too many places around the world, the “wrong” last name, facial features, religion, or heritage can be a death sentence.  But in the United States, we mingle relatively well and relatively unconcernedly with each other.  At least, that’s the goal.

I have benefited from a family background that includes Revolutionary War soldiers and young men and women who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s.  This background has given me an appreciation for our country’s long history as well as in the recent immigrants who enrich our country through their unique cultures.   

In my opinion, learning about other people, countries, religions, and cultures – and teaching my child about them – reaffirms what I believe to be the best things about being an American:  the courage to welcome diverse people to our country, the kindness to assist them in their transition, and the knowledge that this diversity strengthens the country I love.   

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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Filed under Holiday, Learn