Thursday, April 2, 2009

This is a speech Nikko wrote for English class here - presented with a multimedia slide presentation of photos of Vermont, foliage, cows, ski slopes, etc. along with a tin of maple gingersnap cookies made from real Vermont syrup we brought with us. It's always interesting to think about home when you are far from it.

My Home State

Vermont. Probably not the kind of place you all think of when someone mentions the United States. No, there aren’t any skyscrapers, billboards, four-lane highways or anything like that. Let’s just say Vermont is different. Now don’t get me wrong here, there are people in Vermont, but to most Americans, Vermont and “the middle of nowhere” are a pretty good fit. This is assuming, of course, that they’ve even heard of Vermont in the first place.

Anyway, Vermont is located in New England which is in the northeast corner of the U.S. Specifically; Vermont is right around Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and right under Canada. Here let me show you on this map. As you can see, it is quite small, resulting in the second smallest population out of all the states with a mere 660,000 people, about half the size of Auckland. As I said, people do live in Vermont, with the largest city, Burlington, just a bit bigger than Wanganui. I myself live in South Burlington, which hopefully you all are smart enough to figure out, is just south of Burlington. Here’s a map of Vermont to show you.

Meanwhile, I’m going to tell you some facts about Vermont.
· Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. You only get Canadian maple syrup here in New Zealand, but it’s unfortunate because Vermont’s is definitely way better.
· Vermont is a farming state. It has the highest ratio of cows to people in the United States. Kind of similar to New Zealand with sheep.
· Vermont is home to the famous ice cream company, Ben and Jerry’s, and the global snowboarding company, Burton.
· The capital of Vermont, Montpelier, is the only U.S. capital without a McDonalds.
· Vermont is called “The Green Mountain State” even though the mountains there probably look like hills to you Kiwis. (Our highest mountain is Mount Mansfield at 1,335 meters, which wouldn’t even come close to the top 50 in New Zealand.)
· Vermont was the birthplace of two former U.S. presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur. I told you people do live in Vermont.
· Lake Champlain, bordering the west side of Vermont, is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the U.S. It is almost twice as big as Lake Taupo and has its own version of the Loch Ness monster called Champ.

There are also many fun activities to do in Vermont. Here are some of them: First of all, Vermont has many popular mountain biking tracks. This is mainly because the ski resorts need business in the summer and the ski trails are also great for mountain biking. This is great fun for the adventurous. Another popular activity in Vermont is tramping. During autumn, the foliage is amazing; with the colorful leaves providing a great backdrop for a good tramp in the Green Mountains. This is one of our great fames as a state. But let’s not forget the winter. Vermont provides the far best skiing in the northeastern part of the U.S. People come from states all around to visit the ski resorts. Some of these are Stowe, Jay Peak, Killington, and many more. And skiing is quite different in Vermont than in New Zealand. Have you ever thought about skiing through the trees? Well that’s how we do it in Vermont. Here let me show you some pictures of the Vermont ski slopes. Anyway, if you’re not up for downhill skiing you can always cross-country ski or even take a tramp in snowshoes.

So as you can see, Vermont is probably a different look into the United States than you might have expected. But even though it is located in the “middle of nowhere” there is plenty to do and see. So if ever go to the U.S. and you’re near Vermont, you might just want to make the side trip. After all, it’s the great place I call home.

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