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I think The Olympics, chapter books and missionaries were the ways I learned about other cultures and countries. There wasn't a lot of first-hand ethnic variation in the north woods of Michigan. Seeing all those bright, unfamiliar flags and proud athletes from the other side of the globe representing their people seemed like something deeply poetic and opened the world to me in my little log house. I remember watching my eccentric, witty, tall, liberal grandmother sitting next to me, my little legs pulled up Indian style on her couch, her leaning forward, pausing in the middle of her eternal Solitaire game squinting up at the little television set on the wall. Some American was being awarded the gold medal for their performance, they slipped the ribbon necklace over their neck, they clutched their roses, they waved to the crowd, and with the camera panning the sea of Americans and the winner's hand proudly over their heart, the music swelled into our national anthem, and next to me on the couch my clever, stoic grandmother had tears running down her cheeks. I was astonished, The Olympics were clearly important stuff.