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World Culture

¨  Questions about adapting to a move to Egypt
  Is Spain a safe destination for a foreign exchange student?
¨  Do modern Egyptians still consider the pharaohs gods? Is the current King considered to be similar to the pharaohs?
¨  Do the colors of koi mean anything?
¨  Why don't ladies wear ties?
¨  American University Campuses in Madrid
¨  Where did the name soccer come from and why is it called football in Europe?
¨  Why is Spanish news media important for the Spanish community?
¨  Scouting in Kosovo
  What is the significance of the name "Peru"?
  What are the origins of soccer and football in the US?
¨  What is a capirucho?

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I'm going to be living in Egypt for awhile and I have a (by then) 4 year old son.  He loves to ride his trike/'chopper' outside.  We will probably be living near the American University in Cairo, or near many expariates in the beginning.  Would it be out of place if we brought his bike and he rode it around outside?  Do children his age do things like that (I don't want him to be doing abnormal activities or be envied by other kids in his neighborhood).  Will people care if he does this?  What are common things kids do for his age there?  Please help!

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 27 August 2006:
John Cabrera, who lived in Bahrain among other places, said that without knowing where you will be living he cannot anticipate what your new neighborhood would be like.  He suggests that you might want to purchase a bike locally when you get there.

My family moved to Spain in the 60s and lived outside the city in a small Spanish town.  We were quite the novelty in our neighborhood!  What was normal for us, was as strange to our friends and neighbors and what was normal to them was strange to us.  We had many toys and other possessions that we brought from the United States.  Your four year old is probably old enough to know how to share.  Encourage him to make friends with the other children and to share with them.  They will share with him too.  Young children are very adaptable.  There are many excellent books and other resources for Americans transferring overseas with their families.

Managing Cross Cultural Transition: A Handbook for Corporations, Employees, and Their Families (Paperback) by Steven Shepard is an excellent book that could be very helpful to you.  It was written by a fellow graduate of the American School of Madrid.  I highly recommend it.  It is available at Amazon.com.  You can also get more information at Steve's site:


If you have additional questions, please contact us again (reference this question) and we can get the answers for you.

I hope this helps! Enjoy your time in Egypt!

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I have a high school age duaghter who wants to go to Spain (Barcelona) on a High School Foreign exchange.  We are very supportive, but the exchange organization is discouraging going to Spain.  They tell us the culture is difficult on U.S. girls and that crime is high in Spain.  Specifically, what cultural differences and mores should our daughter be aware of and where are the danger zones in Spain.

ANSWER from Luis Felipe Diaz Galeano on 10 January 2006:
There are no such things as danger zones in Spain and the culture impact will certainly benefit your daughter.

What you have been told is a slack interpretation of the political unrest the proposed statutary laws of Catalonia (Barcelona the capital) are creating in the country.  As it stands, this Act is unconstitutional and the National Government is not acting firmly but trying to negotiate amendments.

I suggest finding other Spanish regions (Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Cordoba or Granada) which I'm certain have similar exchange programs and your daughter would benefit even more.  My indication is based on the fact that Catalonia is a much too serious place for a youngster to live in, is just another "big city" much too worried with its own traits of national identification.  As an example, your daughter might not learn Spanish, spoken by over 400 million people in the world, but Catalan spoken by 4 million.

On the issue of cultural impact, it would depend on your daughter's age and cultural background, whether she is a resident of a big city or a small town to begin with.  Certainly her disposition and openness to accept other cultures.  Having said that, the other aspect that must be contemplated is the country of destination.  Spain is not the Hemingwayan country depicted in his books anymore.  Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Seville are big cities with all the advances you might find in any US city along with all the good and the bad any big city offers.  If you, as I am sure you will, look for a good exchange program, your daughter will end up living in suburbs which do not sport "the bad" and will somewhat resemble the US with a touch of the Spanish flavor and yet will have the chance to visit the city as communications and public transportation to and from are excellent.

As a father myself, I would recommend that type of exchange and not those that sponsor families living in the city center.  Maybe when she reaches college and becomes more mature she can indulge in the activities of the city.

I was very selective with my kids' exchanges abroad.  I made sure they went to places where there would be a lot of farms, horseriding and other extracurricular activities that would take up their leisure time.  These types of things are more difficult to find in Barcelona than in other locations as those I highlighted before.

I hope this father to father response was of help to you.  Feel free to contact me further if you need more information or want me to expand on the details afforded.


Luis Felipe Diaz Galeano

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I portray the Pharaoh Hatshepsut for 6th grade during Woemen in History week at my childrens' school.  The American Association of University Women (AAUW) put much thought, research and accuracy in their scripts and props.  I have an interest in Ancient Egypt and Hatshepsut is very fun to portray.  During the last question and answer period I had a student ask if modern Egyptians still consider the pharaohs gods and is the current King considered to be similar to the pharaohs.  If not, when did the system fall apart?

ANSWER from the Imagiverse Team on 5 January 2006:
The history of Egypt is a lengthy and complex story.  Here at Imagiverse we are by no means experts on this subject but the following information may be helpful for you to further investigate this great question!

When researching Egypt, or any subject, you should always try to get multiple, reputable sources.  Use published books and encyclopedias as the basis for your research and be careful when using the Internet.  On the Internet, it is often very difficult to determine if a source is delivering accurate, true, information.  Often, non-experts interpret what they read and the result may very well be false information.  Be wary of Wikipedia, or other entries that may be posted and modified, by people who may not be experts on the subject you are researching.

The Internet will deliver several interesting sites when you use terms such as:

Pharaoh god king
Last pharaoh
First pharaoh
Decline Egypt

I do not believe that modern Egyptians are polytheistic in the sense of their kings/pharoahs/presidents as gods.  I think the belief of ruling gods died out when both Upper and Lower Egypt were conquered by Alexander the Great for Greece where Greek gods were forcibly worshipped.  It also may have ended when Roman leaders banned all religions besides Christianity.

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The Japanese believe some things about koi fish, such as when they die they turn into a dragon.  So I was wondering if the different colours of koi were to mean anything?

ANSWER from Bonnie Walters on 15 September 2005:
Koi and their history are absolutely fascinating.  Koi and carp are the same fish.  The only difference is their color.  All the colors are various mutations in nature.  Out of three hundred thousand eggs (300,000!) only maybe 100 fry will be beautiful and many will revert back to their original color - black. The first red and white koi and were found in the rice paddies.  Around 200 years ago the farmers collected the colored fish and bred them.  Red and white koi are called Kohaku.  Ogon’s are the single color koi.  A kumonryu is a dragon koi and looks like a killer whale - black and white.  What is interesting about the Kumonryu koi is the color never stays the same as the pattern keeps moving for the life of this koi.  No two koi are alike, they are like paintings and are appreciated for their individuality.  Koi can live for many years.  I have not found any significance to any of the colors even though they are named.  Your dragon story is a reference to Dragon Falls.

This link http://champkoi.com/koi/koi_varieties.html will give you a little more information on koi colors.  Here is some more history of koi:

This is an excellent site on Koi with many beautiful photos of Koi and Japan:

Mr. Larry Leverett, Chairman of the Associated Koi Clubs of America (http://www.akca.org/) was very helpful with this answer.

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Why don't ladies wear ties?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 7 October 2004:
This is an interesting question.  A suit and tie are considered dress attire for western men but this doesn't mean women can't wear them.  Quite often women do wear ties.  Sometimes the ties are exactly the same kind that men wear, other times they are more like a bow or scarf.  Traditionally though, ties are most often worn by men and are often expected in business or formal settings.  Many men do not like to wear them because they say they are uncomfortable.

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I am hoping you can offer some advise as to where I could find American University campuses in Madrid where I could access US loans and grants.

ANSWER from Luís Felipe Díaz Galeano on 31 December 2003:
There are not many American Universities in Spain to choose from and most offer semesters or years spent abroad.  However, you should contact each individual possibility for details.

So that you can get an idea or a clearer picture you can access:

As general info:

for a start of all possible universities and their links, search:

for learning Spanish ASAP:

Suffolk University offers several programs and gives financial
recommendations at:

also you can apply directly via:

Luís Felipe Díaz Galeano
Madrid, Spain

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Where did the name soccer come from and why is it called football in Europe?

ANSWER from John Cabrera on 22 November 2003:
Games involving pushing or kicking round and oval balls can be traced back to antiquity.  The Romans introduced a football type game, called "harpastum" to Britain, from where the game evolved into numerous forms including what is now called soccer in the US.  This game is usually called "football" in the UK and, after adjustments for local spelling (e.g. "fútbol" in Spain), throughout most of the world.  However, the game is also called "soccer" in the UK: the term is most commonly used in British newspapers, television and radio.  People discussing games in the pub rarely use the term "soccer".

Harpastum was more like modern rugby than soccer.  However, until rugby's legendary birth at Rugby School in England*, running with the ball was against the rules of football.  After the events at Rugby School, running with the ball gained in appeal, and so rugby evolved as a separate game from football/soccer.

The full and correct name of soccer is Association Football.  This name derives from the nineteenth century, with the establishment in 1863 of the Football Association (FA) - the ruling body for English football.  The FA variety would often be called "Asoccer football" - a contraction of Association Football" and this term eventually contracted further into simply "soccer".  From 1840 to 1860 many varieties of football were played, with varying rules: sometimes combining soccer and rugby.  An attempt was made, shortly after the establishment of the FA, to merge the rules of the two games, but it failed and rugby was left outside the FA.

American football has common origins with soccer and rugby and many games were played at American colleges in the nineteenth century that often combined the rules of both games although some leading universities developed a distinct preference for rugby.  Around 1880, Walter Camp, a Yale medical student, established new rules thereby creating a major departure from rugby thus bringing about American football.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

*Legend has it that rugby began in 1823 when, during a game of football at Rugby School, William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it.

Oh, and it seems appropriate that I should have written this on the day that England defeated Australia to win the Rugby World Cup.  Now, on to the soccer world cup!

John Cabrera
United Kingdom

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I had a question for you pertaining to the Spanish language.  It is more of an opinion.  I am taking this Spanish culture class at my church and we were asked this question and I just want to know what other peoples opinion on it is.  Why do you think Spanish news mediums are important to the Spanish community?  They are referring to Spanish newspapers, magazines, news websites, and news radio.  If you could give me any insight on this it would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER from Ana Ferrer Illsen on 18 August 2003:
Spanish media offers much more detailed, in-depth coverage of news in Latin America and Spain than US media does.   It provides a cultural and emotional  connection to the Spanish community's homelands and maintains their mother tongue alive.

Hope this helps.

Ana Ferrer Illsen
Professional Services Account Manager, Southeast Region
CCH Incorporated
Miami, Florida

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I am a Scout leader from Holland and have been working with scouts in Kosovo for almost two years.  I read that you were there also.  When were you in Kosovo?  Where were you based?  What were some of your scout activities?

ANSWER from Tony Pyke on 3 February 2003:
I was in Kosovo from late June 99 to mid Dec 99 and was with the Canadian military.  My unit was stationed just on the outskirts of Pristina but the scouts were formed outside the village of Koritiza, west of Pristina.  Activities included rock wall climbing, knots and lashings, first aid, home made bottle rockets and, because of the war torn state of the land, land mine awareness classes.  Being the first group of leaders to try to start a scout group, we ran into many problems such as language and of course we were there to serve as peacekeepers so our job kept most of us busy.  There were a few leaders to make the Sunday routine possible.  I have lost contact with all other leaders as we are from different trades within the military and are always on the move.  I honestly don't know if the 1st Kosovo Scout group is still going.  When I left Pristina there was another group of Canadians that took over.  Canada pulled out of Kosovo in the summer of 2000.  I had heard that the Dutch army had taken over the AOR (area of responsibility) from the Canadians.

Thank-you for giving your time and effort to the Scout movement.  I was hoping that Scouts would live on in Kosovo and thanks to you it has.  If you know if the group I speak of is still in existence, can you let me know?  I still think of those kids and wonder how they are doing.

Take care of yourself,

Tony Pyke
Supply Technician
Canadian Armed Forces
CFB Edmonton

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I am 60 years young and as much as I have asked or read about Peru, I have not been able to find the meaning of that country's name.  What is the significance of the name PERU?

ANSWER from Liggia M. 13 January 2003:
The word Peru originates from the word "pirhua" in the Runa-Shimi language, meaning "harvest box".  The country got the name because of it's climate and the manner in which the Peruvian society was able to conserve the harvests for many years in order to have food during times of drought, wars, floods or other catastrophes.  The word "perú" became synonymous with "rich country".

Liggia M.
El Salvador

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 13 January 2003:
In Spanish, the phrase "valer un perú" (be worth a perú) means: being very appreciated.

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What are the origins of soccer and football in the United States?

ANSWER from Raúl Quesada on 25 December 2002:
With regards to the origin of soccer in the United States, it looks like it dates back to around 1620 when Native Americans residing on the coast of Massachusetts played a ball game similar to soccer.  Two centuries later, many American universities played the game but there were no official rules or competitions between universities.

The first soccer organization in the United States was the Oneidas of Boston, which was founded by Gerritt Smith Miller in 1862.  Soon, universities and teams formed by English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish immigrants were playing the game and by 1904, the Olympic games in St. Louis included soccer as an official sport.

This information was obtained from the following URL where you can also find more details:

American football originated in Europe during the 19th century.  Some players in England had become frustrated with only being able to use their feet to move the ball, so they decided to create new rules allowing the players to catch the ball and run with it in their arms.  That was the birth of the game we know as rugby.  In the United States, this game became football and the round ball was replaced with an egg shaped ball and some of the rules were changed.This information came from the following site where you can find more details:

Raúl Quesada
Canary Islands

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We like your letters from around the world.  We like to play some of the same things that kids play in El Salvador.  We like to watch TV, and use computers. We have one question about kids in El Salvador.  What is a capirucho?  How do you play with it?  We are really curious.

ANSWER from Raúl Quesada on 8 October 2002:
Capirucho is a game that many kids from South America play.  It is a game where a stick is attached to a container (cup) and the objective is to thrust the stick so that the cup lands overturned onto the stick.  Many children in South America play Capirucho.  It is a game where you tie a stick to a small cup.  The objective is to shake the stick, and twirl it to catch the cup like a hat on the end of the stick.  That is where the game gets its name.

Raúl Quesada
Canary Islands

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