Welcome to the Civics, Culture, and Community Blog!

Welcome to Wake Tech’s Civics, Culture, and Community blog for ESL students! Come here to learn about American history, citizenship, American culture, holidays, and community events. If you want information about American holidays, click “Holidays” at the top of the page. If you are looking for something fun to do, click “Wake County Events” or “Around Raleigh.” And if you want to know about something specific, let me know! Just click “Leave a reply” below and tell me what you want to learn.

Raleigh Public Pools

swimming pool

photo credit: party dive via photopin (license)

Maybe you are lucky and live in an apartment with a pool, but if you don’t have a pool in your neighborhood, you’re still lucky! Raleigh has 4 year-round (open all year) pools and 5 seasonal pools, which are only open in the summer.

Year-Round Pools

  • Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center (5908 Buffaloe Road) – Located in north Raleigh, this place is so cool! It has indoor pools for both exercise and fun, a lazy river, and a 3-story water slide!
  • Millbrook Exchange Pool (1905 Spring Forest Road) – Also in north Raleigh, this park has indoor and outdoor pools. It also has a spray ground for children to play in.
  • Optimist Pool (5902 Whittier Drive) – Optimist Pool is in midtown Raleigh, near North Hills. It has indoor and outdoor pools, a baby pool, water exercise programs, swimming lessons, and lifeguard training classes.
  • Pullen Aquatic Center (410 Ashe Avenue) – This center is in Pullen Park, near downtown Raleigh and NCSU. It is a large, indoor aquatic center with pools for competition, exercise, and therapy. It also has water exercise programs, swimming lessons, and lifeguard training classes.
spray ground

Spray ground photo by Shannon Smith on flickr (https://flic.kr/p/8zXj4L) Licence – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Seasonal Pools

All of the seasonal pools are outside. Most of them also have a baby pool and a spray ground. They are only open in the summer. The seasonal pools are:

More Information

Click here for more information about each pool (where it is, when it’s open, when it’s closed, and contact information).

Click here for fees (prices/cost) and rules. In general, if you are a Raleigh resident, you can swim cheaper than non-residents. Just take your driver’s license to show a Raleigh address. You can pay each time you go, or you can save money by buying a monthly or annual pass. You can also buy a “punch pass.” That means you are paying for 15 visits, and you can use them at any time. If you aren’t a Raleigh resident, you can still swim at any Raleigh pool. It will just cost a little bit more.


Outdoor Movies – Summer 2016

Watching movies is one of my favorite things to do. Watching movies outside is my favorite thing to do in the summer. In this area, there are TWO places where you can watch movies on a big screen outdoors. One is in Raleigh, and the other is in Cary.

NC Museum of Art

In Raleigh, you can watch outdoor movies at the Museum of Art. The museum is on Blue Ridge Road, near the NC State Fairgrounds and Rex Hospital. (Click the map to get directions.)

Map to NCMA

Screen shot of Google maps

This summer, the museum is showing 15 great movies! Click here to see a list of movies, dates, and times. Tickets for movies cost $6 (children 6 and under get in free), and all the movies begin around 9:00, or after it gets dark. Some movies will have a show or concert before them. Tickets for these events cost more. Arrive early to get a good seat, and bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on. You can take food and drinks with you, but all drinks must be in sealed (never opened), non-glass containers. You may not take alcohol with you, but you can buy beer and wine at the museum. You can also buy popcorn and candy!

Koka Booth Amphitheatre

In Cary, a great place for outdoor movies is Koka Booth Amphitheatre, near Wake Med Cary and Waverly Place. (Click the map to get directions.)

map to Koka Booth

Screen shot of Google maps

This summer, they are showing 13 movies! Click here to see the list and dates. Like the museum, all the movies at Koka Booth begin after dark, around 8:30 or 9:00. You can arrive as early at 7:00, but the gate will not be open before then. Tickets cost $5 (children under 12 get in free), and here, you can bring food and drinks, including alcohol. Don’t forget your chairs or blankets, and enjoy the movies!

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

How Much Should You Tip?

By Scott Sanchez at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A tip is a small amount of money for some kind of service. A tip is not included in the price or cost of something. For example, when you eat in a restaurant, you pay for the food, but you should also give the waiter or waitress a tip. It is a way to say “thank you” to a person who does a good job.

We also use “tip” as a verb. When food is delivered to my house, I ask my husband, “Did you tip the delivery man?” That means, “Did you give some extra money (a tip) to the delivery man?”

Tipping is very common in the United States for many kinds of service. In other countries, people are not required or expected to give a tip. How much money is a good amount for a tip? Are tips different for different kinds of service? When should you tip someone, and when is it not necessary? These are important questions, and many people disagree on the answers. However, here is a general guide for leaving tips.

Food Service

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    Waiter/Waitress – Most servers in the United States receive VERY little money from the restaurant. They depend on tips to make a living. Most people leave 15-20% for good service. If your food costs $10, a good tip is $1.50-$2.00. If you have a terrible server, you can leave less (maybe 10%). If you have the worst server in the world, you do not have to tip him/her at all. If you have an amazing server, you can leave a bigger tip (more money).

  • Delivery Person – When food is delivered to your home, a 10% tip is customary. Most people give a minimum of $2.
  • Barista – A barista is a person who makes coffee. You do not have to tip a barista, but they usually have a cup or jar beside the cash register. You can put some money into it if you want to. This is true in some restaurants also. When there is no server (waiter/waitress), there is often a container beside the cash register for tips. You are not required to put money into it, but you can.
  • Bartender – You can give a bartender $1 for each drink or 15% of the total bill. If you tip the bartender at the beginning of the night, you might get better service.
  • Takeout – If you order food from a restaurant, go to the restaurant to get it, and take it home to eat it, no tip is necessary.


  • Bellman/Bellhop/Porter – This is the person who helps with your luggage. Maybe they take it to your room for you. Maybe they help you take it out of the car (or put it into the car when you leave). Many people disagree about how much to tip this person. I think it depends on the hotel. At a very expensive hotel, you should tip more. At a cheaper hotel, you can tip less. In general, $1-$2 per bag is customary.
  • Concierge – The concierge can give you information about the city, directions to restaurants, recommendations, and more. If the concierge gives you simple directions or tells you about a good restaurant, you do not need to tip him/her. However, if you receive excellent service, you can tip $5 or more.
  • Housekeeper – Depending on the hotel, you can tip a hotel housekeeper $2-$5 per day. You can leave a tip in the room each day (ask the front desk for an envelope) or leave one big tip when you pay your bill.
  • Parking Valet – A valet parks your car for you. This rule is for hotel valets, but some restaurants and even hospitals have valet parking, and the tipping rules are the same. When you get your car back, tip the driver $2-$5. You can also tip when you leave your car, but it is not required.
  • Room Service – When you order food at a hotel and it is delivered to your room, tip $3-$5. Sometimes, a tip is included in the cost of the food, and a tip is not necessary. Look for the words “gratuity included.” That means the tip is included in the price, and you do not need to pay a tip.

Personal Service

  • Barber/Hairstylist –Many people disagree on this, so you can tip anywhere from 10-20%. Again, I think it depends on the quality of service and how fancy the salon is. If you go to a barber shop and pay $8 for a haircut, the barber probably does not expect a big tip. If you go to an expensive salon and pay $90 for a haircut, they might expect you to tip the person who cuts your hair AND the person who washes your hair!
  • Manicurist – 15% is a normal tip for a manicure or pedicure.
  • Massage Therapist – We usually tip 10-15% for massages and other spa services (like facials).


  • Taxi Driver – Cab (taxi) drivers usually get a 10% tip.
  • Skycap/Porter – This is the person at the airport who helps you with your luggage. Just like a hotel porter, they receive $1-$2 per bag. They usually get $2 if the bag or item is very heavy.

Other Tips on Tipping

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    You can always tip more than the recommended amount for excellent service.

  • If you receive terrible service, you do not have to tip.
  • If you sit at a table in a restaurant for a very long time, you should leave a bigger tip.
  • If you use a coupon or a gift card, calculate your tip based on the full price, not the discounted price.
  • In general, we do not tip public officials or government employees. If you want to offer a tip, you can, but they might tell you that they cannot accept it.
  • If someone says that they cannot accept a tip, just say “thank you” and leave. In some cases, an employee could get into trouble for accepting a tip.

American Grocery Stores

I asked some friends if grocery stores (supermarkets) are the same in every country. You already know the answer – NO. They are very different. Here are some things about American grocery stores that might be new, different, or strange for you.

Weights and Measures

In most of the world, people use the metric system, but in the United States, we use the Imperial system. This system is confusing for everyone, but I hope I can help you understand a little bit today. I will tell you the word, and then I will put the abbreviation (short form) in parentheses.

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • cup (c) – A cup measures liquids or solids. A cup of liquid is about 237 ml. In grams, it depends on the food. A cup of butter weighs about 227 grams. A cup of sugar weighs about 200 grams. A cup of flour weighs 136 grams.
  • pound (lb) – A pound measures weight. A pound is 0.45 kg. The abbreviation for pound is “lb.” This comes from the Latin word for pound – libra. These apples cost $1.69/lb. That means one pound of apples costs $1.69.
  • ounce (oz) – An ounce measures liquids or solids. An ounce is about 30 ml (liquids) or about 28 grams (solids). There are 8 ounces in 1 cup.
  • pint (pt) – A pint measures liquid. There are 2 cups in 1 pint. A pint is 473 ml.
  • quart (qt) – A quart measures liquid. A quart is 946 ml. A quart is 4 cups.
  • gallon (gal) – A gallon measures liquid. One gallon is about 3.79 liters. One gallon is16 cups. One gallon is 8 pints. One gallon is 4 quarts.
    – 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 16 cups
  • dozen (doz) – A dozen is 12. If you buy a dozen cupcakes, that’s 12 cupcakes.

Here are some other abbreviations you might see in the grocery store:

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • ea – This means “each.” The Brussels sprouts in the picture are in bags. One bag costs $3.99. The sign says they cost $3.99/ea.
  • BOGO – This means “buy one, get one.” You might see a sign that says “BOGO 1/2 price.” That means when you pay full price for one, you can get another one for 1/2 price.


American grocery stores are BIG. In many countries, the stores are small, and you go to different stores for different things. For example, you go to a bakery for your bread and cakes, and you go to a butcher for your meat. In the United States, you can get everything in one place.

  • In the bakery section, you can buy bread, cakes, and other baked foods.
  • In the deli section, you can get meats and cheeses cut fresh for you. You can buy as much or as little as you want. Just tell the person working there how much you want.
  • In the produce section, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

In some countries, you need to weigh your produce and print a label before you go to the checkout counter. In the United States, you do not need to do this. You can take your produce to the checkout area, and the cashier will weigh it. There are scales in the produce department so you can get the exact amount that you want, but you do not need to weigh your fruits and vegetables if you don’t want to.

In some countries, you pay for different things in different departments. In American grocery stores, you pay for everything at the checkout counter (at the front of the store). You do not pay for your bread in the bakery department, for example.


In general, if a package is closed, or if several things are attached (held together), you must buy them like that. For example, if you see 6 bottles of Coke together (attached with plastic), you must buy all of them. You cannot buy only one. If you only want one small bottle of Coke, look in the refrigerator at the checkout counter.

You CAN separate bananas if you don’t want to buy a bunch.

Saving Money

Saving money on food is important to many people. Here are a few ways you can save money on groceries.

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • Price Comparison – Prices are not standard, so the same thing might cost more or less depending on the store. Pay attention to the prices the next time you go to a grocery store, and then compare them to a different store’s prices. You might be surprised.
  • Rewards Cards – Most grocery stores have some kind of rewards card to help you save money at that store. Harris Teeter has the VIC card, Food Lion has the MVP card, and Kroger has the PLUS card. These cards are free, and you can use them every time you shop. If you use your card regularly, the store’s computer will give you coupons for the things you buy or similar things.
  • Coupons – You can get coupons from the store, from inside a package, from the internet, or from the newspaper to save money on food. Just take your coupons with you when you shop, and give them to the cashier.
  • Store Brands – There are two kinds of products: name brands and generic/store brands. Name brand products are more expensive because the company pays for advertising. Store brands are cheaper. This chart will tell you the names of the store brands for several stores here in NC.
    Store Brand Names


The laws for buying and selling alcohol in the state of North Carolina might seem strange.

  • You can buy alcohol Monday-Saturday from 7:00 am until 2:00 am. You can buy alcohol on Sunday from 12:00 noon until 2:00 am. You cannot buy alcohol from 2:00 am until 7:00 am (or until noon on Sunday). If you want to buy wine for dinner on Sunday, you have to wait until the afternoon.
  • Grocery stores do not sell liquor. They sell wine and beer, but if you want tequila, whiskey, vodka, or rum, you must go to the ABC store (alcoholic beverage control).
  • You must be at least 21 years old to buy alcohol. The cashier will ask to see your ID (driver’s license). If you do not have an ID for the cashier to check, you will not be allowed to buy alcohol.
  • You cannot open your alcohol inside the store and begin drinking it.

American Banking

For all ESL levels, 1 and up.

Do you have a bank account?

Banks are probably not exactly the same in the United States as they are in your country. This video will help you understand American banks and banking words.

Your Turn

You do not have the worksheet and homework from the video, but you can still practice. Click here to download a practice worksheet.

Talk about these questions with your classmates:

  1. Do you have a bank account in the United States? What kind?
  2. Are banks in the U.S. similar to banks in your country?
  3. Do you think that everyone should have a bank account? Why or why not?

American Time

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

In different cultures, people think about time differently. When I lived in Honduras, I went to a wedding. As an American, I was very worried because we were late, but my host family told me not to worry. They said, “The invitation says that the wedding starts at 5:00, but that just means that the wedding definitely will NOT start before 5:00.” In the United States, if a wedding invitation says 5:00, the wedding will begin at 5:00, so you should arrive before 5:00.

In Madagascar, a bus leaves the station when it is full. In the United States, the bus leaves at a scheduled time.

In some cultures, people think about time as a circle or a pool they can move around in. In American culture, we think of time as a line with a past, present, and future.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

American Time

Here is what you need to know about American time:

  • Being “on time” is very important to Americans because we think that time is limited. We have 24 hours in a day, and when the day is finished, that time is gone. Therefore, we try to be on time because we think it is more respectful. We don’t want other people to lose time. And we try to be on time because it is more efficient. We want to complete all of the day’s tasks before the end of the day.
  • Americans think about time as a valuable resource. That’s why we talk about time and money in similar ways with expressions like “save time,” “spend time,” “waste time,” and “time is money.”
  • It is considered rude and unprofessional to arrive late to an appointment, meeting, or job.
  • If you are late to a class, you might get in trouble or not be allowed to enter the class. It can also affect your grade in some cases.
  • If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late to meet a friend, you should call or send a text message to apologize and tell them when you will arrive. It is never ok to be more than 30 minutes late to meet a friend. It is disrespectful to be late every time you meet, and it can hurt your friendship.
  • Americans get upset (frustrated, anxious, or angry) when they know that they will be late.
  • Americans think about the future a LOT. We have planners (books for writing future plans), we make grocery lists before we go to the store, we check the weather forecast in the morning so we know what to wear and whether to take an umbrella with us, and we put money into special bank accounts for babies so they can pay for college when they are 18 years old. In fact, it is very difficult for Americans to enjoy the present moment because we are always thinking about the future.
  • Americans do not usually visit or call each other after around 9:00 p.m. unless there is an emergency.
  • Americans think about time in 5-minute chunks (periods/pieces). We say it takes 5, 10, or 15 minutes to go somewhere or do something. In other cultures, people think of time in 15-minute chunks, so they say it takes 15, 30, or 45 minutes. This is not a precise way to talk about time, but it’s interesting. If it takes me (an American) 8 minutes to drive to work, I say it takes 10 minutes, but someone from another culture might say it takes 15 minutes.

Your Turn

Why do you need to understand American time? Think about the following questions and discuss them with your classmates.

  1. What will happen if you are late to work every day in the United States?
  2. What time does your class begin? What time do you arrive? What happens if you are late?
  3. Why are Americans always so angry when they drive?
  4. An American friend invites you to a dinner party that begins at 6:30 p.m. What will happen if you arrive at 10:00 p.m.?
  5. Is it important to you that people show you respect? How can this information help you to show respect for your American friends?
  6. How is American time different from your culture’s time? How can this information help you not to be upset about those cultural differences?

Community Buildings and Places – Education

By Surrahwall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Our area of NC is called the Triangle. The cities that make the points of the Triangle are Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Triangle also includes smaller cities and towns in the area – Cary, Morrisville, Apex, etc. This area – the Triangle – is one of the most highly educated areas of the country. Both the Raleigh/Cary and Durham/Chapel Hill areas are in the top 10 most educated cities in the nation. It’s easy to see why. We have many colleges and universities. Chapel Hill has the University of North Carolina. Durham has Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and Durham Technical Community College. And Raleigh has NC State University, William Peace University, Meredith College, Shaw University, Saint Augustine’s University, and Wake Technical Community College.

Wake County also has 171 public schools, 78 private schools, hundreds of preschools, and 20 public libraries! (Click here to find your nearest library and learn how to get a library card.)

All children in North Carolina are required by law to attend school until they are 16 years old. Let’s look at the different kinds of schools we have.

Elementary Schools

By woodleywonderworks (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/2458666314/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Elementary schools usually include Kindergarten and 1st-5th grade (some include 6th grade). Children usually begin Kindergarten when they are 5 years old. Most American children begin school in Kindergarten. They do not usually start with 1st grade. When children finish elementary school, they are around 11-12 years old. In elementary school, children have one teacher for all their academic subjects (math, writing, reading, social studies, geography, science, and history), and they have different teachers for music, art, P.E. (physical education), and foreign languages. They stay with their class (about 20-30 students) all day. They play together, eat lunch together, and go to art, music, and other classes together. In each grade, children will have a different teacher and be in a different class (with a different group of students). In the lower grades (Kindergarted-3rd grade), there is often a teacher’s assistant in the classroom.

Middle Schools

By Jeff Billings [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Middle schools usually include 6th-8th grade (some are 7th-9th grade). These schools are sometimes called junior high schools. Children begin middle school when they have finished elementary school, usually around 11-12 years of age. In middle school, children have different teachers for different subjects. They have a math teacher, a history teacher, a P.E. teacher, etc., and they can begin to choose their classes based on their interests. For example, students are not required to take a music class, but if they are interested in music, they can choose to take a chorus (singing) class or a band class. Middle school students go to a different classroom for each class, and they may have different students in each one.

High Schools

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

American high schools usually include 9th-12th grade (some are 10th-12th). Children begin high school (sometimes called senior high school) when they have finished middle school (or junior high school). High school is similar to middle school. Students change teachers and classrooms for each subject, and they can choose some classes based on their interests. For example, they are required to study a foreign language, but they can choose which language to study. They can also choose to take some classes that are designed to prepare them for college and some classes that can help them get college credit while they are still in high school. When we talk about a high school student’s “class,” we might mean an individual course (a history class), or we might mean all of the students in the same grade. I graduated from high school in 1998. All of the students who graduated that year are called the class of 1998.

Public vs. Private

All public schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) in the United States are free for students to attend. It does not matter if they are American citizens or not, and they are not required to take an admissions exam. Private schools, however, require tuition (money paid for education), and they can require students to interview and take admissions tests. The things that students learn in public schools are regulated by the government, but private schools have more freedom to teach what they want. For example, public schools do not teach classes based on one religion, but private schools can teach religious classes. Also, children in NC public schools do not usually wear uniforms, but children in private schools often do.


Some parents choose to teach their own children at home rather than sending them to a public or private school. These parents homeschool their children. In NC, parents need to:

  • tell the NC Division of Non-Public Education that they will homeschool their child(ren)
  • give their school a name
  • have at least a high school diploma
  • keep attendance records
  • operate on a regular schedule for at least 9 months of the year
  • keep records of the children’s immunizations
  • give a nationally standardized test each year

A homeschool cannot teach children from more than two families. However, many families who homeschool their children get together once a week so their children can socialize, give presentations, and work on group projects.

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates:

  1. How does education in the United States compare to education in your country? How is it similar/different?
  2. What do you think about NC’s law that children must attend school until the age of 16? Do you think they should be required to graduate from high school? Do you think they should be allowed to drop out of (quit) school before 16?
  3. Why do you think some parents choose to homeschool their children?
  4. Do you think homeschooling is a good idea?
  5. Do you think NC’s requirements for homeschooling are enough? Should parents be required to have more than a high school education?

Raleigh Easter 2016

Easter Egg Hunt

photo credit: IMG_3276 via photopin (license)

Easter is coming soon, and you may want to find some fun activities to do with your family. I’m going to tell you about one activity your whole family will enjoy – Raleigh Easter.

Raleigh Easter is an annual (every year) event in downtown Raleigh. It is the largest Easter event in the city. The city of Raleigh has small events in various parks, but if you want to see a bigger event, you should check out Raleigh Easter.

What can my family do at Raleigh Easter?

Raleigh Easter has many fun activities for children. They can jump in an inflatable (filled with air) bounce house, they can play games, they can get free balloons, and they can find Easter eggs with toys and candy inside. There will be 7 different times for egg hunts and 60,000 eggs to find!

I’m worried that my young children will get hurt by older children.

Don’t worry. Raleigh Easter has special times for young children to find eggs without older children around. Your little ones should be very safe.

How much does it cost to participate?

Raleigh Easter is FREE! When you arrive, you must go to the registration table to get a wristband (a plastic bracelet like you get at a concert or the hospital). The wristband will help the volunteers to know your child’s age so that he/she is in the right egg hunt group.

When and where is Raleigh Easter?

This year, Raleigh Easter will be on March 26 at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Halifax Mall is located at 423 N Wilmington St. The first egg hunt starts at 10:00 a.m., but go early to register and play!

Community Buildings and Places – Shopping

Every community has places to shop, relax, and play. This week, we’re going to talk about places where we buy things.

Shopping Malls

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

A shopping mall (or just “mall”) is a large building with many stores inside. There are several malls in Wake County. In Raleigh, you can go to Crabtree Valley Mall (in midtown) or Triangle Town Center (in north Raleigh). In Cary, you can go to Cary Towne Center.

Malls usually have all kinds of stores as well as a food court (an area with many fast food restaurants and tables for eating). American malls usually do not include large stores like Target or Wal-Mart. They also do not usually have a grocery store.

Shopping Centers

A shopping center is a very big area with many stores, but they are not all inside one building. Shopping centers usually have more than one parking lot, and they often have “big-box stores” (stores that are shaped like very big boxes – Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys ‘R Us, etc.), which malls usually do not have. Many shopping centers also have a movie theater. Crossroads Plaza in Cary, North Hills in Raleigh, Brier Creek Commons in Raleigh, and Park West Village in Morrisville are all shopping centers.

Strip Malls

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

A strip mall is a group of stores in a row (line, strip) with one large parking lot for all of them. A strip mall is similar to a shopping center, but it is much smaller. You can see strip malls EVERYWHERE in Wake County. There are hundreds of them. They often have a grocery store, a nail or hair salon, a small clothing store, a couple of restaurants, and several other small businesses.

Where can I find…?

This chart shows you some of the things you can and cannot find in each type of shopping place. When the chart says “yes,” that means you can usually find that type of business there. When it says “no,” that means you probably cannot find that kind of business. Of course, anything is possible, but this chart gives general rules.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Your Turn

The next time you visit a shopping mall, shopping center, or strip mall, look for the kinds of businesses on the chart. Did you find them? Was the chart correct?

Community Buildings and Places – Emergency

Welcome back to our Community Buildings and Places series! This week, we’re going to look at places you might need to go in an emergency.


WakeMed Cary

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

Wake County has several hospitals. In eastern Raleigh, you can go to WakeMed Hospital. In western Raleigh, you can go to Rex Hospital. In southern Raleigh, Cary, or Apex, you can go to WakeMed Cary Hospital. If you have a medical emergency, go to the Emergency Room (E.R.), or call 9-1-1. At the hospital, the doctors see people in order based on the seriousness of their problems. That means the doctors see people with more serious problems first. For example, if you are bleeding a lot and another person is bleeding only a little, the doctor will see you first. If you are having a heart attack while another person has a broken arm, the doctor will see you first. It doesn’t matter who arrived first. The person in more danger will go first.


Urgent Care

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

You don’t need to go to the hospital for every problem. When you go to the E.R. with a problem that is not very serious, you will have to wait for a long time. Also, the E.R. is very expensive. It might be better for you to go to Urgent Care. Here are some reasons to go to Urgent Care:

  1. You are sick, but you do not have a doctor.
  2. You are injured, but your injury is not life threatening (You will not die because your problem is not serious). You don’t want to wait at the E.R. and pay for the E.R., but you need to see a doctor.
  3. You are sick or injured, and your regular doctor’s office is closed. Most Urgent Care offices are open on weekends and in the evening during the week.

To find an Urgent Care near you, search the internet for “urgent care near me.”

Police Station

You probably will not need to visit a police station, but you can. They are safe places to go if you need help, and you can also find information at the police station about all kinds of things. For example, you can get information about domestic violence, calling 9-1-1, and more

Fire Station

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

There are many fire stations in Wake County. You probably live very close to one. Fire stations are also safe places to go if you need any kind of help. Firefighters can:

  • check your home for fire hazards (things that might cause a fire) and help you make your home more safe
  • check the baby seat in your car to make sure that it is installed correctly
  • help you in a medical emergency
  • talk to groups of children or adults about fire safety
  • show you the fire station, fire equipment, and fire trucks

How to Call 9-1-1

If you have an emergency, you should call 911. DO NOT CALL 919. The phone number for emergencies is different in every country. In the United States, we call 9-1-1. Here are some instructions for calling 9-1-1:

  1. Wait for the operator to answer.
  2. When the operator answers the phone, try to stay calm.
  3. Speak slowly and clearly. Describe your problem.
  4. Give your name and phone number.
  5. Give your location. Give an address if you can. If you don’t know the address, or if you are not at an address (on the highway, maybe), tell where you are.
  6. DO NOT END THE CALL. Stay on the phone.
  7. Answer the operator’s questions.

If you do not speak English, just say, “Help.” Do not end the call. Stay on the phone, and wait for the fire department, police, and ambulance to arrive.

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates, or ask your teacher:

  1. You think you have broken your toe. Should you go to the hospital or to Urgent Care?
  2. You think you have broken your arm. Should you go to the hospital or to Urgent Care?
  3. How can you find an Urgent Care near you?
  4. Name 3 situations when you should visit Urgent Care, not the E.R.
  5. Who will the doctor see first in the E.R. – someone who has pain in their chest or someone who has pain in their leg? Why?
  6. If you have a medical emergency, can you go to the fire department? Why or why not?
  7. Where should you go to make sure your baby’s car seat is safe?
  8. What is the emergency phone number in the United States?
  9. What should you do if you call the emergency number but don’t speak much English?
  10. If you do not feel safe in your home, where can you go for help?