I have two articles published in this month’s issue of Distinctly Oklahoma: “Council for Educational Travel, USA” and “New Children’s Zoo: Playing This March.” They may seem unrelated, but closer inspection reveals a universal theme. Both bring other countries right into the backyards of curious Oklahomans–in the form of people or animals.
Animal Article http://distinctlyoklahoma.com/content/view/572/62/
The multi-million dollar Children’s Zoo at the Oklahoma City Zoological and Botanical Garden opens to the public on March 12th. Its “choose your own adventure” format reveals a natural play setting where children can interact with animals.
Exhibit animals range from monkeys and flamingos to the cobalt-blue tarantula. They represent various animal taxonomy from around the world. Visitors will have direct contact with the barnyard animals–but these are not your regular goats, sheep and pigs! Each is an endangered American breed that the zoo is endeavoring to save. Children will have the rare experience of touching a Silver Fox Rabbit or Guinea Hog.
Since I’ve had the privilege of meeting these animals personally, I must say that the Nigerian Dwarf Goats are darling. All twelve are named after Oklahoma towns during an online voting contest. “Edmond” (which is the town I where I live) is awfully cute, but still shy of people. I intend to visit him often.
Exchange Students Article: http://distinctlyoklahoma.com/content/view/567/61/
The Council for Educational Travel, USA provides foreign exchange opportunities for high school students. Selected individuals spend a semester living with “the average American family;” learning culture, attending school, and experiencing holiday traditions.
Interviewing for this story netted some surprising humor. One student from a large Korean city was amazed to see so much land and sky in Oklahoma, and even “some animals running around!” Another student from Brazil commented on American driving: “You could fall asleep driving so slow. I’m used to 130 kilometers per hour on the autobahn.”
I find personal joy at mentioning Keiko Hemmi in this story. She was a Japanese exchange student to Oklahoma in 1989–which is when I met her. She and I have continued to stay in touch for over 20 years, and she’s even visited a few times.