Sharing American Culture at Jack in the Box

Written by Lauren Timberlake

Life in the United States is full of “firsts” for our Bhutanese friends. Last week the volunteers in our Level 4 English class got to experience a fun one with their students: eating at an American restaurant.
Ten students and four volunteers visited Jack in the Box after learning all about menus, ordering, and food culture in the U.S. It was the first time many of them had eaten in a restaurant at all, let alone an American fast food place.
The friendly restaurant staff (who had been told of our visit ahead of time) took each student’s order in English, with a volunteer at each register to facilitate clear communication. The students were confident, but it was a challenge for them to read the intricate wall menu and understand what the cashier was saying.  
Most Bhutanese people do not eat beef, so curly fries and cokes were the most popular items students ordered. The drink station was the highlight for many students. None of them had experienced fountain drinks before, and many had wet hands as they navigated ice machines and soda levers for the first time. Lids and straws were also new. They had coffee lids on soda cups and dipped straws still covered in paper into their drinks. After a few mistakes and lot of laughs, they figured it out. The medium cups were much larger than they expected, so most only had a few inches of soda in them. When told about free refills, the students just laughed. One trip to the drink station was enough for the night!
Back at the main building, I had the chance to visit with several of the students. Using short, incomplete sentences they told me how happy they were, that the food was very good, and how much they liked ordering in English. It was obvious that they were very proud of themselves and that they had a lot of fun.
The volunteers were equally enthused. Shirley Posladek said, “I think we crossed a barrier of American culture that they didn’t have the confidence to do themselves. It created such joy within them to be able to do it!”
Field trips like this one are a great way for students to grow in confidence of using English outside the classroom, gain practical life skills, and build deeper relationships with their conversation partners—each important steps towards feeling at home here in Kansas City.
Do you know someone you can share a piece of American culture with? It may be a restaurant, shopping center, live music, museum, or other place of business. You may be the only one who will help them cross that cultural barrier. Go for it—it may mean more than you think.

In other news:
  • Our second discovery Bible study began last Saturday with another Bhutanese family that we've been walking with for over 2 years.
  • The majority of the Mission Adelante staff is in Indianapolis through this Sunday for the Christian Community Development Association National Conference.  They're joining the discussion on finding fresh approaches for changing realities through innovation.  Check out CCDA at  There will be No Latino Outreach programs this evening, October 13.
Prayer needs:
  • We've come into the season of planning for the upcoming year.  Please pray for the Lord to supply discernment and wisdom as we craft goals for 2012.
  • Pray for the health and safety of our staff that has traveled to the CCDA Conference, as well as their families that have stayed behind in Kansas City.
Current needs:

  • We need a wheelbarrow for landscape maintenance on our property.   Please contact Molly at 913-281-6274 x5 if you can donate one.
  • Two dressers have been requested through our Resource Center.  Please contact Molly at 913-281-6274 x5 if you can donate one.
  • We need three iPods for use in Kids Adelante, Bhutanese Kids Club, and the Bhutanese church.  Older iPods are fine; however, we need control of playlists, so Shuffles won't serve our purposes.  If you're able to donate one please contact Morgan at or 913-281-6274 x3.
Upcoming dates:
  • Observation Days: Tuesdays, October 18 and 25, and November 1 for Bhutanese outreach; Thursdays, October 20 and 27, and November 3 for Latino outreach.  If you've never seen how we serve immigrants, please come observe.  If you're a regular volunteer, bring a friend who would be interested to find out about the mission field in our own backyard.
  • Staff Open Houses: Saturday, November 19, 3:00-6:30, Kansas City, Kansas