America (on Clearance)

If you could choose one object to represent your home country, what would it be?

I’ve been thinking about that question for a few weeks now. A football? A plastic hot dog? Ideas came to mind, but I had trouble deciding on an object that was not only “quintessentially American” but also small and light enough to fit into my suitcase.

The object isn’t intended for my own personal keepsake, by the way (I’m not that patriotic!) – it’s for my students in Japan. According to past JET participants, I’m supposedly going to be giving an introductory lesson about the U.S. when I begin working as a teacher during the first week of school. Along with a 50 minute presentation on U.S. culture and customs, I’m also supposed to present objects that are representative of “my home country.”

Lucky for me, I conveniently happened to go shopping for my presentation materials two days after the 4th of July – when stores were ripe with 4th of July clearance sales. Target’s $1 section was overflowing with American flag-themed everything – decor, stickers, cutlery, everything. I shuffled through the pile of neglected, half-off items, grinning and squealing under my breath. Who knew that I could get so excited over gel stickers in the shape of Uncle Sam’s hat?

And once I finally decided what objects to buy, it took even longer to persuade myself not to buy all 15 packs of flag-decorated pencils.

I ended up settling with two packs of pencils – not 15, stickers of course, a set of napkins that say “United States of America” on the front, and those handy little American flags that you sometimes see on people’s front lawns.


I’d say I’m pretty happy with my purchases (and the total price.)

And I hope that my future students will be happy with them too.

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