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Labor Day Celebrations

Global Immersions - Friday, August 31, 2012

This Monday Americans will celebrate Labor Day, signifying the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall season. In most of the world the holiday is known as “International Workers Day” or “May Day” and is customarily celebrated on May 1, as opposed to the first Monday in September. The holiday was established to commemorate the achievements of workers and was championed by American labor unions that were fighting to institutionalize the eight-hour workday. 

On May 1, 1886, 35,000 workers in Chicago boycotted from their jobs until they were given “eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest”. On the third day an unidentified person threw a bomb in the demonstrators leading to a gunfight where eight police officers and an undetermined amount of civilians were killed. 

Demonstrations against this violence and the rights of workers spread to France, the Netherlands and other countries that were struggling to regulate the workday after the successes of the industrial revolution. “International Workers Day” “May Day” or “Labor Day” is now celebrated in more than 80 countries and is an unofficial holiday in many other countries worldwide.  

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September only in America and Canada – a date shared due to the close ties between American and Canadian labor unions and businesses when Grover Cleveland first made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. He chose September, rather than May, for the celebration because he didn’t want to commemorate the violent riots in Chicago in 1886. 

Today, Workers Day is celebrated similarly all over the world, with parades, patriotism, family and food. Most businesses, government buildings and offices are closed, and workers are often given a paid holiday.

Because Labor Day commemorates so many social movements and is celebrated at different times all over the world, this is a great opportunity to ask your visitor how they celebrate workers in their home country! Labor Day originated in America but its message has spread globally, so as you enjoy the last days of summer and the three day weekend, make sure to share the holiday with your visitor!  Don’t forget to email Global Immersions your photos so we can put them in our photo gallery! 

Sources: Wikipedia.com 


The 2012 Olympics

Global Immersions - Thursday, August 02, 2012

The 2012 Olympic Games in London are in full swing! The world greatest competition, which started on July 27th and will continue until August 12th, features the best athletes from all over the world competing for both personal and national glory. While the competition is fierce, it’s also a time of worldwide camaraderie and a shared pride in the athlete’s abilities.  This is a great opportunity to share the Olympic tradition with your visitor! Many of Global Immersions current visitors are from China and Japan, and both countries are performing spectacularly in this year’s games. Here is a guide to the Olympic tradition in those countries, so next time you’re watching the games with your visitor you can really share the experience! 


Japan was first represented at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games by a two-man team in sprinter Yahiko Mishima and marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri. The country’s first Olympic medalists were in Tennis that year. Gymnast Takashi Ono is his country's most successful Olympian, winning five gold medals over three successive Olympic Games. Three Japanese cities have hosted the Winter Olympic Games; Tokyo in 1964, Sapporo in 1972 and most recently Nagano in 1998. Out of a total of 360 metals’s won during the country’s Olympic career, 92 have been awarded for artistic gymnastics, 65 in Judo and 62 in swimming. 

So far this year the real exciting competition for Japan  has been the artistic gymnastics, lead by three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura. His performance has solidified him as one of the best gymnasts in the world and added a gold metal to the one silver Japan had already won in an earlier gymnastics event. 



The host nation of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese have had success in many sports since returning to the Olympic fold after an agreement was brokered by the IOC in 1979. While China has competed in part in a number of Olympic Games, the country’s first full competition was at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. In the first event of that year, shooter Xu Haifing won the men's free pistol to become the first Chinese to win gold. Gymnast Li Ning collected three gold medals, two silver and a bronze, making him the outstanding individual performer of the Games. Table tennis has been dominated by Chinese players since its introduction to the Olympic program. They won all four gold medals in Sydney 2000 and in Beijing 2008 they took every medal open to them. Out of a total of 365 metals awarded during China’s Olympic career, 51 have been in artistic gymnastics, 49 in diving, 43 in weightlifting and 41 in table tennis. 

At this year’s Olympics the world has been floored by 16 year old Ye Shiwen, who has won two gold medals in the swimming events of the 200 and 400 individual medley. In the 200 meter race Ye shattered the world record by more than a second and knocked five second seconds off her personal best in the final 50 meters of the race. 

If you have a visitor from another country, make sure to celebrate the Olympics with them! This is a great opportunity to really "Go Global" in appreciation of the world's best athletes. Share your stories of how you enjoyed the 2012 Olympics with Global Immersions!   

Explore Boston - The North Shore

Global Immersions - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The “North Shore” of Massachusetts, an area broadly defined as the stretch of sea coast from Boston to New Hampshire, is a prime summer destination boasting an endless amount of outdoor activities. Besides the beaches, waterfront restaurants and nature preserves, this historically significant area is also home to numerous towns and sites that played a key role in early American history.  Here’s a quick guide of what to do in some of the North Shores most popular towns- - Gloucester, Ipswich, Salem and Marblehead.


The town of Gloucester is arguably America’s most famous fishing village, a title earned from its continuous maritime history since its founding in 1620. Over the years, Gloucester lost so many of its sons to the ravages of the sea that the town thought it fitting to set up a memorial to them. The Gloucester Fisherman (also known as "The Man at the Wheel") at Fishermen's Memorial is one of New England's most famous statues, with the legend "They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships, 1623-1923." 

In East Gloucester you will find the Rocky Neck Art Colony. The winding streets offer interesting glimpses of the harbor, and every other house seems to be an artist's studio.

Today visitors come to explore its nearly four centuries of history, to enjoy a seafood dinner overlooking its harbor, or head out on a whale watch cruise

Just outside of town is sight definitely worth seeing: the Hammond Castle. This European-style real life castle was built by the eccentric John Hays Hammond in the 1920’s and now operates as a museum.

MBTA: Take the commuter rail from North Station to Gloucester via the Newburyport/Rockport line. The trip takes about 30 minutes.


The town of Ipswich is famous for its seafood, most notably the clams (“steamers”) and lobsters. These delicacies are sought after by both locals and visitors, and are a must have for anybody who travels to the North Shore. The town is home to numerous 17th century residencies; most notably the Whipple House built in 1677. Other sites include the Crane Estate, a huge manor like Great House on Castle Hill, with the adjoining Crane Beach, one of the North Shores most serene beaches. 

Other nature reserves in Ipswich include the beaches of the Sandy Point Reservation the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge at the southern tip of Plum Island; the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary; and the Willowdale State Forest, with 40 miles of hiking trails as well as fishing and boating opportunities.

MBTA: Take the commuter rail from North Station to Ipswich via the Newburyport/Rockport line. The trip takes about an hour.


Founded in 1626, by the late 1700s Salem had already grown and prospered. Its ships sailed the world, many dealing in trade from the Orient, especially spices, silks, and other luxury goods.

The wealth of the Indies brought great prosperity to the town, which enabled its citizens to build and decorate fine mansions and impressive museums. Salem is also infamously known as the site of the Salem Witch Trials, which took place in one year, 1692 but have haunted the town ever since. A memorial park in downtown Salem commemorates the suffering of the innocents who were falsely accused and murdered through superstition and abuse of power.  There is a spacious town common and many of Salem’s old houses (dating back to the 1600s) and 19th century mansions remain intact and in good repair. 

Part of the historic center has been restored and closed to traffic and is now the pedestrians-only Essex Street Mall, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Custom House (Salem Maritime National Historic Sitehave brilliant displays of Salem's (and America's) maritime history.

MBTA: Take the commuter rail from North Station to Salem via the Newburyport/Rockport line. The trip takes about 30 minutes.  


This is without doubt one of the prettiest and best-kept towns in the country, and people love to come from Boston on the weekend just to walk the streets and window-shop, or have a bowl of chowder in one of several good restaurants. Relax on one of the benches and admire the panoramic view of the harbor and the town. Bring or buy a sandwich, and have a picnic here. The view is unforgettable. It’s also one of the North Shore's more affluent communities, with lovely homes, both new and old, that are worth visiting. 

The Jeremiah Lee Mansion, now owned by the Marblehead Historical Society, was built by a wealthy maritime merchant and furnished with the best things money could buy in 1768—just before the American Revolution. 

The King-Hooper Mansion built in 1728, with a Georgian extension added in 1747, it is presently owned by the Marblehead Arts Association, which offers tours of four floors. Art exhibits change each month. 

Another interesting site is Fort Sewall, an earthwork fortification built in the 1600s and "modernized" in the late 1700s to include barracks and half-buried buildings, which still remain.

MBTA: Take the commuter rail from North Station to Lynn via the Newburyport/Rockport line. Take bus 441 from Lynn. The trip takes about an hour. 

Take a trip to the North Shore and share your experiences with Global Immersions! 

Source: http://www.newenglandtravelplanner.com/go/ma/northshore/

Advice on Buying a Pre-Paid Cell Phone

Global Immersions - Thursday, July 26, 2012

Having a cell phone when you’re traveling abroad can be very helpful; you never know when you could need it! We strongly suggest all of our younger visitors in homestay have an emergency phone for safety purposes.  

In many foreign countries, cheap, disposable phones can be bought at corner stores, along with “pre-paid” minutes. The same is true in the United States, but there are many more options and “hidden” fees. Here is a quick overview of how buying a pay-as-you go cell phone without a contract may not be as easy as you think:

Many stores, including places like Staples, Wal-Mart and CVS, will sell you no more than two phones at a time due to new regulations regarding disposable cell phones. If you’re part of a large group you should call ahead to make sure they have enough phones, and expect that each person will have to buy their own phone.

For disposable phones with “no contract” many carriers offer “pre-paid” minutes. This means, for example, when you buy your phone you’ll spend an additional $25 for minutes to use on your phone. Be careful, you never know how many “minutes” $25 will last you. A major carrier charges .35 cents per minute, and then .20 cents per text, so that $25 won’t last long! Other carriers offer a set number of minutes, say 300 for $25, and then each minute you use your phone will deduct from that original 300 minutes. If you have a smart phone, you also have to find out how much the carrier will charge you for internet use. This feature is called “data” and it is important to consider how much “data use” costs when you buy your phone.  

What happens if you go over your “pre-paid” minutes? With some carriers the phone will just stop working until you add more minutes to it. With others, your phone will continue to work, but the carrier will charge the credit card you bought the phone with and might add on fees for going over your “minutes”. It is important to keep track of how many minutes you have left on your phone. Often you can do this by dialing a number the carrier provided you with, or by logging into an account online.  

So your trip is over and you’re heading home. What to do with your phone? Some carriers will buy it back from you for a fraction of what you paid, then refurbish it and sell it as a used phone. Others won’t give you money if you return your phone, but will take it so they can donate it to an organization in need of cell phones, such as domestic abuse centers. Whatever you do, don’t throw your phone in the trash. The battery, if not disposed of correctly, can cause pollution as it deteriorates.

Here is some advice to our homestay visitors - be careful when you buy a phone. Think about how often you’ll be using it, and for what purpose. If you text a lot, get unlimited texting. If you don’t have a smart phone, then don’t get data. And remember, read all the fine print! 

If you have any helpful tips regarding cell phones without a contract in the U.S, let us know!


Global Immersions - Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Friday is the first day of Ramadan, one of the most important holidays in the Islamic faith. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days according to the visual sightings of the crescent moon. This year the holiday will begin on the night of July 19th and last until August 18th. Every day during this month Muslims around the world will fast throughout the daylight hours. Muslims believe that Mohammed first received the Qur'an from God during the month of Ramadan, and fast as a way to symbolize their submission (the literal translation of “Islam” in Arabic) to God. 

The Five Pillars of Islam

The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. Sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam, which also includes the shahada (declaration of faith) the salah (daily prayers) zakat (giving of charity) and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). The whole month is a time for spiritual reflection and prayers, and it is believed that fulfilling any of the five pillars of Islam during this month will multiply the spiritual benefits.  Many Muslims will read the whole Qur'an during Ramadan, or hear it recited during prayers in the Mosque where every day during the month 1/30 of the book is read until it is completed.

Special events during Ramadan

Once the sun sets the fast is broken with a meal called the iftar, which is seen as a time of fellowship between family and friends and has grown into large banquets in many countries. Traditionally, the iftar meal begins by eating three dates, just as Mohammed did during the first Ramadan. The most important night of Ramadan, and the whole year, is Laylat al-Qadr where it is believed God first revealed the Quran to Mohammed. Finally the last day of Ramadan is called Eid ul-Fitr, which is also celebrated with much revelry.

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and every able bodied adherent (exceptions given to pregnant or nursing women, and the sick or elderly) are expected to fast during the month of Ramadan. That means more than a billion people will be fasting during the day this month!

Are you hosting a Muslim visitor, or would you like to engage with Islamic cultures during this special month? Here are some suggestions for activities in Boston:

This Friday Boston’s Center for Arabic Culture is holding an “Evening of Palestinian Embroidery from Gaza” event. It’s a great opportunity to see intricately handmade Palestinian embroidery, with proceeds from the sales going to help families in Gaza. 38 Newbury St. 7th floor; 6:30- 9:30pm

Algiers Coffee House is a Harvard Square staple that is famous for its Arabic coffee and Middle Eastern foods. Serenely sip a cup of coffee or tea and watch the busy traffic outside!

If you or your visitor would like to take part in Ramadan celebrations, especially the iftar meal, the Islamic Society of Boston is holding numerous events at their Cultural Center in Roxbury over the month.

Share any Ramadan celebrations you have with Global Immersions! 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan 

Celebrate America's Independence Day at Harborfest!

Global Immersions - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

From June 28th to July 4th the whole city of Boston will celebrate the 31st annual Harborfest and the bicentennial of the War of 1812, America’s “Second War of Independence” fought to defend the new nation from England. This annual week-long gala celebrates all that Boston has to offer: history, culture, fun and excitement, culminating on July 4th with one of America’s biggest Independence Day celebrations. Share Boston’s rich history by taking part in any of Harborfest events, catering to all ages, interests and budgets. Your visitor will love to experience the celebration surrounding America’s Independence in one of the nation’s most historical cities.


Here’s just a sample of some Harborfest daily events, which range from classy brunches on the Liberty Clipper to fun reenactments of historical events in Boston’s intricate role in the fight for American Independence.  

Thursday, June 28th

Reenact the Boston Tea Party aboard the Liberty Clipper! Raid a British ship with the Sons of Liberty, throw tea in the harbor and fire cannons! Admission is $24-$35; reservations recommended (617) 742-0333 Noon- 2pm .


Tour the elegant mansion of Harrison Gray Otis, a Congressman, Senator and the third Mayor of Boston, his wife, Sally Foster Otis and their family. Free for Boston residents, 141 Cambridge Street Noon-4:30pm.

Friday, June 29th

Walk through the life of Paul Revere, one of Boston’s most famous patriots! Join the guided walking tour through the North End as you visit the sites that mark Revere’s life, including his silversmith shop and foundry. Admission $1.50-$5, 2:30-3:30pm at the Paul Revere House (617) 523-2338

Saturday, June 30th

Spend the whole day enjoying Spectacle Island!

Start your day by ferrying out to Boston’s Harbor Islands for a Hatha yoga class, appropriate for all ages and abilities. The ferry costs $9-$15 and space is limited. Boston Harbor Islands Ferry Kiosk, Long Warf to Spectacle Island 10:30-11:30am (617) 723-8666

After yoga build or bring a kite to fly over the harbor! Materials provided from 1:30 to 2:30.

Then have a real New England dinner from 6:00-9:00pm with the Spectacle Island Clambake featuring all the best seafood New England has to offer! Admission $70-$80 reservations required (617) 960-7166

Sunday, July 1st

Sample the best of New England’s clam chowder from the area’s top restaurants, then vote for your favorite! This is one of Harborfest most popular events, over 2,000 gallons of chowder were served last year! Admission $8 - $11; City Hall Plaza 11:00am-6:00pm


Take part in the Trial of the Century at the Old State House! Actors will reenact the trial of the British soldiers accused of taking part in the Boston Massacre featuring patriot lawyer John Adams arguing for the defendants. Admission $3-$7.50, 6:00-7:00pm (617) 720-1713

Monday, July 2nd

Watch the U.S Coast Band in concert as the national touring band plays patriotic favorites! Free at Pier One, Charlestown Navy Yard (978) 806-5050

Tuesday, July 3rd

Dance to a variety of classic rock and original blues with the Town Hall Blues Band on the Plaza at City Hall. Free, Noon-3:00pm

Wednesday, July 4th

Watch the 4th of July fireworks on the Charles River Esplanade! The Boston Pops Orchestra starts at 8:00pm, with the firework’s beginning at sundown and celebrations lasting until 11:00pm. Free! For more information call (888) 484-7877 


Visit http://www.bostonharborfest.com/  for more information. Share your Independence Celebrations with Global Immersions Homestay, we hope to see you at Harborfest!  

Daylight Saving Time

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, March 09, 2012

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, clocks in the United States (and many others throughout the world) are advanced one hour so that evenings have more sunlight in the warmer months of the year. First established in 1918, “Daylight Saving Time” allows for people to take advantage of sunlight later in the day, as well as encourage energy savings. As days become shorter again in fall and winter months, clocks are returned to “standard” time so that there is more sunlight in the mornings.

Although Daylight Saving Time has been around for nearly 100 years in the United States, there is still a good deal of controversy surrounding the practice. Many critics feel that Daylight Savings is not beneficial, or simply too complicated. Worldwide, many countries use Daylight Savings in order to conserve daylight; the days of change, however, often differ from country to country (most of Europe changes on the last Sunday in March, while much of Oceania changes on the first Sunday in April). Other countries, such as large portions of Africa and Asia have opted to stop using Daylight Savings Time, or have simply never used it at all.

In the US, Daylight Savings occurs on the second Sunday of March, and ends on first Sunday of November. Daylight Savings is easily remembered with the mnemonic device, “spring forward, fall back” to help people remember which direction to shift the clocks for each time period.


The Patch

Washington Post

Insights into Visitor Interactions

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At Global Immersions Homestay, the comfort and experience of both hosts and visitors is always our number one priority. We offer cross-cultural workshops and on-going intercultural support for both hosts and visitors, and informational host events so that the homestay experience is enjoyable and beneficial for all.  As homestay provides an insider's view into the U.S. culture, interaction is crucial piece of the experience. 

Through our December host event, Insights into Visitor Interactions, our hosts had the opportunity to share and learn from each other new ways of exposing their visitors to American culture. To find out more about the unique interactions between our hosts and visitors, we put the question to our hosts - here's what they came up with:

  • Games night (board/card)
  • Day trips
  • Restaurants (ethnic/American)
  • Cultural events
  • Cooking together
  • Grocery shopping
  • Watching/explaining sports
  • Plays/school activities
  • Research on visitors homeland before arrival
  • Maps or place mats to discuss where the visitor is from during dinner
  • Seasonal activities
  • Watching movies/TV
  • Wii (dance games)
  • Discuss about each other’s cultures/daily lives
  • Daily errands
  • Interact with pets
  • Car wash
  • Recycling
  • Shoveling/playing in the snow
  • Parties (holiday, birthday, family, other events)
  • Music – playing together and sharing artists from their country

For additional ways to interact with your visitor take a look at some of our suggestions here.

Do you have other suggestions or ways you interact with your visitors? Email us and we'll share them with the hosting network!

Host Event - Journey Through Japan

Patty Brownlee - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Global Immersions Homestay values its relationship with hosts, and works hard to build meaningful and lasting experiences between hosts, visitors, and our organization. In order for our hosts to gain deeper insight into the daily lives of their visitors, Global Immersions Homestay organizes quarterly host events that focus on the different cultures of our visitors. The events often include a “hot topic” discussion related to hosting that provides an opportunity to exchange information and insights; our seasoned hosts are able to share their expertise, and new hosts are able to learn new tips and tools of the trade. The host events act as a great way to bring our Global Immersions network together, and help to create a positive homestay experience for all involved.

Our summer host event, Journey through Japan, focused on the country and culture of Japan. Throughout the years, Global Immersions has provided numerous quality homestay services to individuals of all ages from Japan, from middle school students to working professionals. This year alone, Global Immersions has placed over 300 Japanese students in homestays, and we continue to support and maintain our esteemed Japanese relations.

Host event panelists discussing differences in culture between the US and Japan.

The highlight of the event was a Japanese panel discussion. The panel included three Japanese professionals who live and work in Boston and have an in-depth understanding of both U.S. and Japanese culture. The panel answered questions regarding various aspects of culture, including differences in communication styles, food, and daily life. Hosts and panelists discussed the different nuances of Japanese culture, such as differences in bowing, non-verbal communication, and dinner-table etiquette. Hosts were able to share experiences, ask questions, and learn more about the visitors they host from Japan. The event also included a variety of delicious Japanese foods, host prizes, host appreciation awards, and a donation table for the relief efforts in Japan.

Several of the hosts expressed their appreciation for the event, noting that “the three panelists were absolutely charming,” and gave “great, helpful, practical advice.”

Japanese panelist joking with hosts.

The event also focused on the relief efforts that are currently going on in Japan
following the recent earthquake and tsunami. As many hosts throughout the years have greatly benefited from and enjoyed their time with Japanese visitors, Global Immersions Homestay felt strongly the need to give back to our many friends in Japan. Local charitable foundations such as panelist Atsushi Tanimura’s project “B2J” were highlighted; more information can be found at: http://www.supera2c.com/A2C_Productions/A2C_Productions.html

Donation table for relief efforts in Japan.

Do you live in the Boston metro area and have an extra bedroom?  Would you like to learn more about other cultures?  Do you like making friends from around the world?  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a host with Global Immersions Homestay, contact us today or visit Boston Homestay Programs to learn more about our programs.

Finding the Homestay

Patty Brownlee - Thursday, July 07, 2011

Arriving to a new country, going through customs and then finding transportation can be an overwhelming first experience for any visitor to a foreign country. The next step of getting to the correct homestay can be just as troubling and confusing for a new visitor. We have found during our numerous home visits over the years finding the correct home can often be a challenge due to poor labeling or marking of the home.  Imagine the frustration and our staff members speak English and live in Boston!

Boston's labeling system is not the easiest to figure out or understand even for locals, from lack of street signs to the way homes are numbered on streets.  

Hosts - please take a minute and check the following to make sure your home is well marked and ready for a new visitor to arrive!

1. Do you have house numbers on your home?
2. Are the numbers visible from the street?
3. Do you have a doorbell?
4. Is the doorbell labeled with the family name or apartment number
(if there is more than one)?
5. Does the doorbell work?
6. Do you have a working porch light?

Put yourself in the role of the new visitor and visualize how problems can occur if the home is not easy to identify. It can be even more challenging if it is evening and dark. Complications can even arise if a visitor is arriving by taxi and the driver is not familiar with your area. Most of the visitors do not have a cell phone that will work in the U.S. upon arrival so calling you might not be an option.

To make it easier and less stressful for everyone, we ask you to take a minute and walk outside and review the list above. Please make any updates needed to your home before welcoming your next Global Immersions visitor!

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