Monthly Archives: March 2013

“What does it feel like to be…” The Ultimate Comment Mashup #2.

“What does it feel like to be British?”

I asked a year ago in my Posterous blog and received the following comments. I’m now securing their safety here in this post.

Read, discuss with your students (like I’ve been doing), enjoy the insider views.

#makesyoubritish

In the first place I feel like George Mikes: you can be British but you can never be an English! Perhaps your question isn’t directed at people like me who aren’t British by birth, but yes, I am British, and, what’s more, a British passport is the only one I have!
So, what does it feel to be British? In my case, well, I feel more like a global citizen rather then British, to be honest. Right now, I feel more at home in Las Palmas than anywhere else, but put me in London, and in no time, it feels like home, too. Strangely enough, I feel more British when in Britain; here, I just feel…well…foreign!
So, how else do I feel? I don’t really know. Do I have any so-called British habits? I have tea in the morning and I rarely have it again during the day. I almost never have English breakfast nor Sunday roast here. Language and music wise, I feel more British than anything else, but I’m talking about 60s and 70s music and not what comes out today. I follow more Spanish sports than British and I’d sooner cheer Nadal and Alonso than Hamilton or Button. So, I guess I’m not so loyal now.
I’m probably an atypical British, but I’d like to hear from other British who have been abroad for a long time. Are they like me? Do they adapt to the local environment? Chiew

 

For me, Britishness can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it gives me a sense of history and culture stretching back well over 2000 years, and further back if you count pre-Romans. This richness in the environment around me is fascinating, and I’m constantly discovering new parts of my culture and country. As a country with a lot of immigrants, Britishness is also being challenged (in a good way) and our culture is becoming much more receptive to other races and cultures, up to a point. Having the passport I have has also given me an extraordinary amount of opportunities, for which I am very grateful.
On the other hand, being British abroad can be very embarrassing, because the reputation of Brits as alcoholics and/or hooligans seems to be spreading rapidly. It has already spoiled some places, although hopefully not beyond repair. Many Brits also seems to have the ‘insular’ mentality that takes it’s name from living on an island. Despite having a diverse culture at home, many Brits still think everyone should speak English and adapt everything they do to the Brits around them, whether at home or abroad. For me, this can make me feel embarrassed about being British at times.
Having said that, I will always tell people my nationality without shame, although I may end up apologising for some of my compatriots! Sandy Millin
+++++
I’ve been thinking about this more since I wrote my initial post, and what came to me is this:
The only British people may well be politically correct English people. People from other parts of the British Isles will probably tell you that they are, for example, Scottish, before they are British. Other parts of the British Isles seem to have much stronger regional identities than those of us from England. For example, Scottish flags greet you at the border, as do large ‘Welcome to Wales/Croeso y Cymru’ signs on entering Wales, while the English signs are small and don’t seem to feature any national symbols (at least, not that I remember). his lack of a strong unifying identity is something that I’ve often thought about. Sandy Millin

 

The first thing that popped into my head was sense of humour and self-deprecation. I have been living in France for about 6 years and this aspect always stands out to me. 
But as the first response mentioned I do feel more of a world citizen than British. Maybe that is to do with my background – Sri-Lankan Tamil family, born in Ghana, grew up in Wales, married to a French! I wonder what our soon to arrive baby will feel like when he gets asked a question about culture and nationality?
Cheers. Mura

 

My personal top 10 of British-feeling things would be:
1. Humour – it’s in every conversation, whether silly, sarcastic, satirical or surreal. Wordplay is a national sport and we’ve produced some truly amazing comedy series (imho). One of the few things that makes me really proud to be British.
2. Reservedness – we’re an excessively private people. We don’t like people standing too close, making too much noise, asking personal questions or coming to our house unannounced. I can see why others often think we’re cold!
3. Embarrassment – we’re chronically embarrassed by everything, from talking about sex / our emotions to unfamiliar social situations. Until we’ve had a few beers – then it’s a different story altogether. It’s why the British drink so much 🙂
4. Supporting the underdog – as soon as someone becomes successful, we try to knock them down (especially if we think they’re not modest enough about their success). We always support the little-known team, the person who’s come from a poor background, etc…until they too become successful, and the cycle starts again…
5. Tea – tea solves EVERYTHING. I’m a pretty bad Brit because I take mine black – the commonest way is with milk and sugar (also known as ‘builder’s tea’).
6. Multiculturalism – this is the double-edged sword that Sandy mentioned above! – our cities, especially London, are amazing because of the diversity of people in them. But a big part of the reason for that was probably colonialism, which is something most British feel still feel uncomfortable about (see no 3 above).
7. Eccentricity – we’re not comformists. We collect weird stuff, celebrate weird stuff and wear weird stuff. It means we produce interesting artists, musicians etc though, and I love that.
8. Freedom – having lived in other parts of the world, I now value how free I actually am when I’m at home. I can marry (or not) whoever I like, I can live where I want, say what I want in public, practice any religion or none…these are all things to be thankful for.
9. Passive aggression – linked to no 2, maybe, we hate direct conflict and hardly ever say what we really mean. Debates in the House of Commons are a brilliant example of this!
10. Pessimism – we just can’t achieve the perkiness of our American cousins. We think every new project is doomed to fail and we love to have our pessimistic predictions proven correct (‘Typical!’ is a particularly British refrain).

Other things which didn’t quite make the list: talking about the weather (we really do!); fairness; bizarre double standards regarding animals (OK to kill and eat but not to harm in any other way…) Laura Phelps

 

It means feeling like an island but always longing for the land beyond the horizon
It means craving sunshine but knowing one’s spiritual home is a rainy sky
It feels like early dark and Gothic civic architecture covered in soot 
It feels like a land crowded with football towns and lost canals
It means reaching for the salt as soon as food is served

Luke Meddings

 

This is really interesting question Ann, although I’m not sure you realise just how political it is, especially at the moment!
As an English person, I consider myself both English and British. However, that is because I consider nationality to be a large part down to geography. Simply, I was born and lived most of my life in England, which is part of Britain. That’s the land mass where I was born and I can’t claim to be anything else. Some people might claim to be only English, but I would dispute that based on my opinion that they don’t have a choice. They were born there, and that’s it.
This might sound obvious, but there are people in Scotland (and Wales to a lesser extent) who wouldn’t consider themselves British because they see Britain as a political entity. Of course, I can’t deny that, it is by definition a “United Kingdom” of nations under one government. However, I don’t feel that this kind of excessive patriotism is particular useful.
I understand why people want to define themselves culturally in relation to the place where they were born, it’s a useful way of creating a shared identity. My problem is when patriotism slips over into jingoism (from “my country is great” into “my country is better than yours”). This, for me, is dangerous and lies behind so many pointless conflicts around the world.
I should point out that I’m not classifying all patriotism in these terms. Personally, I don’t get much out of it, but if other people want to be that way, it doesn’t bother me.
So the point of this is (yes, there is one 🙂 ) is that as an English person I’m proud of our culture and the things we have given the world courtesy of Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, the Beatles, Tim Berners Lee & Emmeline Pankhurst and so on, but I don’t feel I can take any credit for that and I’m aware that most countries and cultures can also point to their own equivalents of equal stature.
So do feel I British? Yes, but it doesn’t mean much to me, but then neither does being English. The more I travel and live abroad, the less useful it becomes as I see it as fairly restrictive group of stereotypes, some true, some not, that don’t really serve me any purpose.
I hope this ramble answers your question. Now I’m off to have a cup of tea. James Taylor

 

Hi Anna,
Coming from Scotland I would say that my attitude towards Britishness is a rather distant one. Even though I no longer live there, I don’t think that changes all that much. My experience is that many Scots feel something similar. I can’t myself remember the last time hearing a Scot say “I’m British” unless they were publically expected to do so. I think we shouldn’t generalise but at least some of the English community feel more comfortable with their Britishness. 
Yes, connections run deep after the last 300 years together and we do seem to drink a lot of tea. But Burns did write that Scotland was a “parcel of rogues” and some down South find us up North well a bit ‘savage’. Perhaps it’s closer to the truth to say that we share many values but the UK is a patchwork of very different identities. Is that a good or bad thing? Who’s to say. So, I’ll just bloody-mindedly and Scottishly end with the Irish poet W.B. Yeats who wrote “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. Roy Bicknell

 

Many thanks to the wonderful Brits who took the time to leave a comment and, well, educate me and my students in the sense of giving very genuine explanations to their feelings of belonging or non-belonging. One won’t read that in culture studies course books. I’m grateful.

 

If you think you have something to say to the question I posed – please do!

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“What does it feel like to be…” The Ultimate Comment Mashup #1.

A year ago I was working on the country studies course book which is now successfully published at my department and can be found on some library shelves. It’s quite probable that nobody is going to teach with it except for me and a couple of my colleagues, yet this experience was invaluable to me.

First of all, I got a taste of materials writing and I loved it. Secondly, I “tested” the power of crowdsourcing… and was overwhelmed by the results! In my two posts, “What does it feel like to be American” and “What does it feel like to be British” I challenged my PLN by asking them, British and American natives, to share their views on this. The flow of comments, Facebook shares and retweets that followed was breathtaking! Through this immediate connection and genuine open-hearted response I learnt a lot about the mentality of these two cultures. This little research  (?) triggered a snowball of exciting ideas and activities which I introduced to my students a year ago. I am going to work on bringing more out of them this coming month, so I’ll actually turn to you for assistance again very soon. =)

In the meantime, I simply cannot put up with the fact that with the official death of Posterous I’m going to lose all those precious replies for good…So I’m reposting them here in this post. For my own sake, for the sake of my students, for anybody who’d pop over here and find it exciting. Here we go.

SYMBOL-HOPE-FREEDOM

Hi Ann,
I’ll plunge in first, and feel free to shoot me an email with any further questions/ideas/thoughts.
To be American, in these modern days, to me, means to be an individualist. To have positive relations with many friends, but to be most concerned with what is your current project, or your current relationship. While we have community, our ties are less so than other countries I’ve visited. This is visible both in our social customs as it is in our governmental policy.
To be American, for me, also means to be confused at times about a pop culture that exports itself all over the world, sometimes through its art, sometimes through its business, and sometimes through its national acts of agression. Yep, I said it and no I’m not proud of it, though nor do I identify with it that much as I see myself as a global citizen these days more than an American.
I haven’t lived in the states for more than a year or two in the past decade, and I might be a little out-of-touch with what’s going on there now, however, the more I travel and the farther I go away, the more I realize that we can talk about particularities here and there, but really when it boils down to it, we’re all pretty much the same, at least to me, in these modern times. 😉
Oh… and we like hamburgers too. 😉 Brad Patterson
 

To be an American is to stick out like a sore thumb, some may say this is individualism at its height. I see it in a different light-selfishness. For most, being an American means being a monolingual English speaker with little knowledge of our history. Values and beliefs vary much throughout the country some are godless, most are god-fearing and some are apathetic or agnostic. Some politically motivated, others financially driven yet all of us have a unique quality that makes us American….Here is my answer… we are independent thinkers longing to belong to a group…any group. Our greatness though comes from being in one group….A pool of people from every other place on Earth. We have small spats of violence within our borders but we all live together as one tribe. Here in the US, the only place on Earth where there is no ethnic cleansing and we are moving further and further away from our racist imperialist past. My 5 y.o daughter says to be American means to be happy, and my naturalized US citizen of a spouse says being American means being free to do whatever she wants…Which leads me to ponder why does she restrict my ability to eat a burger whenever I want? My short answer is that most of us walk around…We are passed tolerance. In the modern era we are all about accepting and respecting every individual….this is my humble view.@eslconsult

 

After living in Germany and for a stint in Greece and traveling to 22 countries, I have really thought about this question. It feels strange in a way because I feel as if we have the most freedom in the world and so many opportunities to accomplish great things but we rarely take hold of those opportunities. I think we are so blessed to be born in a place where we do have the ability to accomplish so much despite our economic situations in the US.
What does it mean to be American? It means to appreciate our ability and freedom to choose our paths and take hold of these opportunities to make a real impact in our world. Esther Lyre
 

Being American means being free to think and create. It means being proud of the red, white, and blue, and everything that is and was sacrificed to have earned those freedoms. A bit of arrogance and keeping up with the Jones’ (pardon the idiom) is a piece of our culture, but it is not what being American is all about. Melissa Emler

 

What does it feel like to be an American? Hated by most Nations and we don’t care that we are hated. We laugh about it, because Americans invented Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and nearly most of the social media. PLN would not exist! Not all, but many of your PLN colleagues are hypocrites and haters too! You wanted honesty, there you go; take it or leave it. Ken Samac
 

(I”ll start with a quick story if I might)
It was spring 1999 and I was one of many Americans studying abroad in Spain. A bunch of my fellow American classmates and I went to a small town on the beach in Portugal for the weekend. I was the last of my friends to go to bed and I found myself partying with a group of Portuguese students. In the midst of the revelry one of them asked me where I was from. I said “America” as was my common practice at the time. He nodded and said that he knew America. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina. Yes, America. He didn’t seem to know the America that I was talking about. At some point I think I said something about Coca-Cola, McDonalds and General Motors (to my shame) in order to jog his memory. We continued talking and in a mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese it became clear to me that he was putting me on. It was an interesting and memorable experience for me. To that point in my life I had never had the experience of someone (pretending or not) say that they had never heard of my country. In some ways I think that part of being American is that no matter where you go someone has heard of your country. For better or worse there are already built in perceptions of what it is to be American. Land of the free. Land of guns. Hollywood. Drugs. Democracy. Friendly people. Conservative zealots without passports. Sports enthusiasts. Manicured lawns. Race issues. It seems that people across the world have an image of what Americans are like. To me, being an American is often about dealing with these stereotypes whether they are true for me or not. Mike Griffin

 

 I’m sorry, I’m a little late in responding. To me, being an American is an awesome responsibility. Without question America has been blessed, economically, technologically, culturally and spiritually. Americans today are in a difficult position. Due to an ever-shrinking planet, we must find a way to maintain our independent spirit and innovation while cooperating with many other global players. I have found through my own exposure to other cultures, that what generally sets Americans apart from other people is a sense of optimism about the future. Kevin @toeflzone
 

What does it feel like to be an American? What a difficult question! I can tell you what it feels like to be an American for me. I should preface this with some background information, as America is so diverse that how I feel about it is very different from other people’s views. Obviously, I am a white female. I grew up in an affluent area on the east coast. I am educated (currently working on my graduate studies), and I am employed. I am a wife, mother, and teacher. What does America feel like for me?
Competitive. I feel an intense need to compete, and I believe it is, at least in part, cultural. America is very competitive. We place a strong value on innovation and success. Part of the reason we have such disparity between our rich and poor is our ideology that people should “pull themselves up by their boot straps,” meaning, make your own success. Take care of yourself. Be strong, be creative, be the best. Never show your weakness and always win.
Curious. I am genuinely interested in other cultures. I love to read novels about various cultures, and I love participating in global collaboration. America, though we have such diversity, is somewhat isolated. Consider that in Europe, one can visit ten countries in the time it takes one to cross from our east to west coast. And each country has it’s own history, culture, and language. Yes, we have many immigrants, but America has traditionally asked them to lose their ethnic identity and become part of the “great melting pot.” I believe that has changed significantly in recent years, but that is the America I grew up in.
Compassionate. Americans want to save the world. We are generous and compassionate. The problem is, we don’t always realize that not everyone wants to be saved, nor do we always know how to do it the right way. Often, though well intentioned, we make a big mess of things. Not all countries are interested in capitalism or equal rights. We should learn a little from our neighbors to the north and stay neutral.
Proud. Americans are very proud, often ethnocentric. In my youth, I thought our way was the only way. It took me a long time to appreciate the fact that other cultures, though different, are equally good. I love my country, but I also see the value in a rich variety of cultures. I see that there is much for our young country to learn. We need to step back a bit and reflect on our overbearing presence in the world and embrace the variety of lessons offered to us by others around the globe.
These are the dominant things that come to mind when asked what it feels like to be an American. If you would like, I can ask each of my students to answer this blog post as well. They could give you an idea of what it feels like to be a teenager in America. @danielle6849

 

Below are the comments left by Danielle’s high school students. Unedited.

  • To be an Americans means nothing to me. I just live here and I am here in this world alone. American is not helping me do anything in life, I have to do it myself. (Rahkeya Mack)
  • What it feels like to be a teenager in America? Well to me i feel as if its hard because in order to have a stable life you have to go through a very long process. Starting with Education, than from there its like everyone is trying to compete with each other for positions in a job and when you get the position theres always someone who’s trying to take your place. What I can say is very good about America is that there is a lot of opportunities and you can be whatever you want as long as you put your mind into it and work hard to be successful. We love to see people with talent and theres many programs and associates that can help people with talent get to where they need to be. Whether their good at sports, singing, dancing or ,playing an instrument etc.
    Another good thing would be theres a lot of rights that us Americans have, which isn’t based on whether your poor, rich, black or white. Which other countries I see discriminate on rich and poor and even race. We all have equal rights here in America. Such as freedom of speech, right to bear arms ( which is the right to carry a legal weapon for protection), the right to remain silence and many others.
    One thing I don’t like about America is how they treat people with criminal records or just any kind of records period. It’s like once they have this record it follows them for life and people don’t want to hire them, knowing that they may have a family to take care of and living without a job in America is very hard, because theres nothing free specially today in this economy everyone trying to save & earn instead of giving.
    This is how I feel as a teenager living in America. (Kwesie)
  • To be a American is hard because there is so many different cultures. Also nobody is the same but everyone is equal. Everyone chooses there own paths in life from being successful to just being average. America is like all cultures put into one country. The mixing pot of the world there are product from all over the world. From different foods to clothes and music. Many people come to America to be free and to have a better life for them and there family. If there is so many positive things in America it is blind to the people that lived here all there lives. They do not see what it is like to live anywhere else in the world. (kb)
  • ” There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right in America”. I think that means the good in America outways the bad. But i think freedom means alot but we dont appreciate it because we dont know anything different so we take it for granted . I feel like if we didnt have the freedom & rights we have now or someone took them away from us we would be lost completly. Another one is Education, i feel like americans take that for granted too, especially our generations teenagers because education just isnt important to most of us & we would rather be doing something else that consumes our time.  I think the culture in America is so diverse .Theres so many different cultures here. Theres no one really here alike if you think about it . & The music is so different here, you can tell what music people listen to buy the way the dress & act most of the time. Music has such a impact on us. (anneliese)
  • Being an American to me means being able to be yourself. You can do anything in this country. People have started from nothing and ended up millionaires. I can’t think of another country that has the “American dream”. But it also feels bad sometimes being an American. things that you had no hand in, that you’re getting judged by. Everyone around the world thinks we’re all a bunch of fast food eating idiots, where only some of us are. If I go to any country around the world and tell them I’m American, then I’m going to be harassed with questions about food, or I’m going to get a lot of hatred towards me. People act like we shouldn’t care about what other countries think, those people are idiots. (Ray)
  • Being an American.This is how i feel. I feel patriotism, being able to have rights that allow me to do so many different things, i feel compassionate for every other American whose following in my footsteps to become the better of the best. I also feel very well educated, that if i were given a task. Lastly i feel pride, a feeling of deep pleasure and satisfaction derived from my own achievements that i have made throughout my childhood, but I’m sure every American can have a different perspective of the country they live in.
    I am grateful to be in a country with so many open opportunities. I feel granted that I’ve been able to live my life free of many of the worries that people face everyday such as illness, job loss, or even loosing their house. I feel i am responsible for my two foot prints on the world.
    But I’m sure others in other countries have similar feelings of pride, patriotism, and responsibility and how they feel they should have equal opportunity like everybody else. I hope my future is just as bright as my past was. In conclusion i also agree that knowing I’m American and was born in this country is usually an amazing feeling. (Nina Scardetto)
  • What does it feel like to be an American? Many people have their different views and characteristics that identifies what it means to be an American. To be an American you have to be proud of your country. When you hear the national anthem you stand up, face the flag, if you know the words say them, and as respect you take off your hat. In America we have our Bill of Rights, laws and the Constitution. As a country we follow those laws and rights and those who don’t get punished. Like any other country, America has their flaws but tend to have better problem solving skills. To be an American for me means that I value my rights and accept the consequences if I were to break the law. I also appreciate the school system and that there are trade schools. Lastly, I like the right to pick my career. (Tierra)
  • What I feel it means to be an american is pride we are a very vain country feeling that we need to help everyone before we help ourselves. We decide for ourselves whether or not someone needs help and if they want it or not we but in sometimes we help but sometimes we make the situation worse. Even though our country is in a economic recession and still there we are focusing on the middle east instead of our home.
    Corruption is also a problem here the reason we can’t get out of the recession is because our people our so greedy. To our people there is nothing more important then getting the most money possible the easiest and fastest way the banks loaning is the perfect example they gave people loans for houses they could never afford to buy even with the loan and it caused the housing market to fall apart and many people lost their home. This also caused the stock to fall again putting us close to a new economic depression but into a recession.
    Unemployment is also a problem here many people have no job. No way support their family these are all of the dark things america is facing at the moment but there are many good things coming. (Patrick M)
  • I believe that I take being an American for granted. I have a warm bed, food in my stomach, and parents who care about me. I wake up every morning and take for granted the running water I have. I always have food in my house. And I have plenty of clothes. So every once and a while I have to stop and be thankful for my life and my freedom.
    Being an American means that we have rights. We have the right to speak freely, vote, and practice whatever religion we want to. Other countries have never had those freedom. Most Americans don’t even know how fortunate we really are. But America is far from perfect.
    There is still poverty in this country, and people are homeless and Hungry. Rich people are at the top of the food chain and poor people are at the bottom. Lower income places don’t have good education and crime is very popular. Then there is unemployment, so many people in this country don’t have jobs. The Government says that they are trying to fix the problems but a lot of problems seem like they will never change.
    I am greatful to be an American. I’m greatful for my freedom, my rights, and other things that i take for granted everyday. There are a lot of things that this country has to offer. No country is perfect but i’m glad I was born here. And i’m proud to call myself an American. (Nicole G)
  • To me America is something different to me then most. Most Americans would only speak of our good sides and not the bad. I’m not one of those. Forgive me, if I offend anyone, but I speak my mind. America is tail spinning into a crisis it might not come out of, undamaged. Where there is great freedom here there is also great corruption that wants to suppres that freedom. Where the rights exist, some through their greed wish to abolish these rights. The political structure is cracking, the econic circle has broken, and the social ladder distorded.
    I’ll start off with the corruption, while Russia might have managed to escape the global econimc crisis, America hasn’t. The banking industry, who threiv off of this type of time. Has sought bail-out after bail-out from Washington. Inspite the fact that whe their representives arrived in private jets and Limozine. They got several trillion dollars, which most is just collection dust. The politicans will do just about anything in their power to stay in office.
    The rights that have been secured since the founding of this nation as stated in the Bill of Rights, while they serpass the rights of many other nations, and under threat. Unlike in China or Taiwan, we can speak out against the goverment and not be killed, the CIA and FBI will just moniter you as a “Possible threat.” Our right to bear arms, have been resritced due to anti-gun laws being rushed through. Activists have kept these mostly intact.
    As I said greed is a major player here. The rich have all the money while the midle class and the poor lose it. Our econics cricle has broken. There are few jobs left here in industry, most has been sent to China for lower pay, and no qeustions asked. The taxes increase, on the midle and poor and the rich get tax cuts. Also many simple hide their money in offshore banks to afovid taxes. Also with the basics of loans and interest here, many have loans people can simply never repay.
    Our Freedom, the most redeming trait of this nation. We are free to do as we please, just don’t break the laws. Most countries lack this, but we are losing it. With traitorous actions like the Paitriot Act, SOPA, PIPA, NDAA of 2012, which severly supress our freedoms as ganented by the US Constituion and Bill of Rights. While the world sees us as free, we are losing our freedoms. As someone said “A velvet glove covering an iron fist.” Mostly people don’t even know of these actions that are clearly treason. Created in secret and kept that way until the vote in the Senate, no questions, the President braking all his promises. Our goverment is broken, America is not as great as you may have thought. (AK)
  • Its feels good to be an American teenager. Though many others look at us and stereo type us in many ways. Americans have a great education. We like to work hard and be better then everyone else. But doesn’t everyone want the best ? In many other countries kids don’t have the same freedom or education as Americans. Americans have many ways to succeed in life. You can go back to school at all ages. Even with our health care we have many ways to stay healthy. We also have freedom of speech which a lot of other countries don’t have. Some countries kids cant even look adults in the eyes. (Bryan)
  • In my opinion what it feels like to be an American is that as Americans we need to be brave. The reason why America is so brave is because we have a lot of things that have happened in America is that we have wars and fighting for America. America has done so much of everything and that we need to have volunteering, education, and music. Volunteering is the most important thing in America because we need to have volunteers doing things for America like Firefighting, EMT, and Police Officers. Without volunteers nothing would get done. Education would be harder if we didnt have schools because schools are very important because we have to have a strong education and not a crappy one because everyone needs to learn something and we need to be strong (courtney)
  • In america, we have one of the best educations. We have many children who go above and beyond to further their education in attempt to gain a reasonable career. The education in america is one to be proud of. I learn so many things everyday from the teachers here in New jersey. Like mrs Hartman said, the compassion of every teacher to help us gain an education is phenomenal.
    In america, we have freedom. Many countries do not have the freedom that we have. I feel that a lot of us take that for granted.Our freedom is something to be proud of. Although, we cannot do anything we feel, our country does give us a lot of leighway such as be able to peacefully protest, and to make many decisions as a democracy. One of our best freedoms is freedom of religion. I myself am Jewish. I believe something other than the average american. I appreciate the fat that I can practice my religion in peace.
    In america, we have freedom of creativity. We can express our fashion sense or personality in any way that fits us. It makes every one of us unique. we have the right to express ourselves and show everyone who we are without being harmed. Many countries do not have the right to wear what they want or anything at all I feel that we should appreciate the many freedoms we have including one as little as this.
    In america, I am proud. I am proud to say that i live in america. I feel that just as Mrs.Hartman said, appreciating cultures and how they do things. Many of us do not appreciate the freedom and rights that we have. We should be proud and appreciative of the things we do have and think of those who do not get those same rights. Many people in others countries do not have the freedoms that we do.
    These are my reasons for loving America. And living her makes me feel so proud and appreciative of the things that i do have and make me have respect for those who struggle everyday to gain those rights themselves. (Brittany B)
  • Being an American means being free, educated, strong, and equal. It is a great honor to be called an American. Here, we have the freedom of speech, religion, the right to bare arms, and to be whoever you want to be. Yes there are a lot of laws and rules and regulations but over all we are a pretty individual country. We don’t have arranged marriages, we don’t have slavery, we don’t have to work at the age if five. I know all of these things seem ridiculous but some other countries have to encounter these harsh and unfair issues. There are so many things that other countries are not aloud to do and so many things that they are FORCED to do. Here, we always have a choice.
    Over all, America has some really educated people. We may not be the smartest people but we are intelligent. America does everything in its power to insure that everyone has the opportunity to have a good education. Whether its college, a trade school, a tech school, or a GED, a majority of American have some type of education. Im not going to lie, a lot of people don’t graduate from there high school, even more people choose not to expand their education after high school. That, however, is 100% their choice. America gave them the first push, if they continue on the path that is up to them.
    When you here America you think of strength. Many people say we are strong because of the Army. I agree that our Army is a main factor in America’s strength but the overall reason is because as a people we come together and form a strong nation. We, the Americans, are the reason why America is seen as a strong country. We have been through a lot. More than a lot. We have come encounter with wars, natural disasters, depressions, recessions, riots, and so much more. At any given time we could have given up. But no, we stood strong and stuck together so that we could overcome all of the obstacles put in our way. Separated we fail, but together we prevail.
    Equality is the best part of being an American. Especially for someone like me. A female who is African American and Native American. I am in the minority all around. If we didn’t have equality i would have no rights. I am not going to lie, it took a lot if fights and time to form a equal America. But in the end all the fighting, waiting, and time payed off. Now women have the same rights as men. African Americans and every other minority have the same rights as Caucasians. There are still people who believe that some people are still beneath them but you can’t change everyone.
    Overall, America is a great place to live. Being granted the right to be called an American is also a great opportunity. There are still many flaws but no one and nothing is perfect. Anywhere you go will have flaws. I am just proud to be an American. (Raiya J)
  • I will not lie but it feels good to be an American. To me its the land of Freedom. The fact that us as Americans can fail and get back up and do it again without anybody talking down on us. I love that we can all be classified as equal school wise. I know in other countries kids do not have the same education as we do.
    I feel that we have fresh food prepared everyday. For me to be an American means a lot because we all have the same rights no matter what class,race,age,gender. For example if i want a job oppertunity at this big CEO company and someone much older is going for the same job choice. Me and the person have to same EQUAL chance of getting that job. I know some countries would have took the older person because that person is older and i know that some other places would have pick me because im younger.
    Which will bring me to my next point that America is an competitive place to live. If you want a job choice like in my 1st example you have to show the owner/person who is hiring you that you deserve that spot only because there is a lot of people fighting for that same spot. That might be a down fall but it just shows that America does not just give out any job to any random person.
    If you were to just come to our country you will find out that our country is so divided up into a lot of things. Like our cultures and music. The way we dress would shock a lot of people by surprise just because we dress so differently. Sagging pants,Holes in pants,the shoes we wear,Hairstyles. That type of culture down here is normal because were accustom to it. Food is really different down here too.
    We have a lot of rights that make our country different from other countries. Freedom of speech we can talk and say what ever we want to and i know some countries if someone tells you something you cannot say nothing back but down here in our country we can say something back. (Alberto W)
  • America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yes it feels good to be an American because I could be living in a communist country controlled by a dictator, but America still has many challenges to over come. The quote,”there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right in America” is an understatement. We have many problems in our country and we do have programs to fix them, but not enough is being done to fix them. In the year 2012 America is dealing with rising proverty rates, high unemployment, debt, job requirements are rising, it’s a buyers and employers market, the cost of a college education is increasing, enormous inflation.
    But despite all of the problems America has it is one of the best places to live on earth. Yes, there is still lots of prejudice and a lot of barriers have been broken but The United States as a whole has a long way to go. Even though our systems designed to help people don’t do enough at least we have systems involved to help people. Because in communist and undevoleped countries there is no welfare or unemployent, or disability. In those countries if your poor your poor, if you are unable to work to bad, if you are unemployed well that’s just to dam bad because it’s like that and that’s the way it is
    To be honest I am very scared about the future and the direction of America. But a great man once said ,” we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Although in our country it is very difficult to make a living and advance in social status at least you can. (Josh M)
  • Being an american to me is the freedom to be able to express what you feel without being punished afterwards. This country gives the opportunity for nationalities worldwide to come together as one and begin to build a new life. I get to vote for who I want to be my president at the legal age. Some countries people don’t have a say so as to whom they want to be elected. I am heard whether anyone wants to hear it or not. Being an american brings freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to present various cultures to others around you. America practices the rights of the law. The judicial system makes sure that justice is served and gives fair trials rather than taking a citizens word as other countries do. Compared to other countries we have an amazing amount of privacy. Our space is not invaded without the proper actions taking place ahead of time. We have tons of brave soldiers that fight for our country and have a ton of pride for what they do. Being an American means standing up for your rights. It means standing up for what you believe in and making sure in as many ways as you can to take action in expressing yourself as an individual even as a whole on behalf of your surroundings. Being an American paves the way for many opportunities to come your way. You grow up with public schooling being able to have the freedom to educate yourself. You grow up with the rights of being able to read billions of documented texts and are able to embrace various amounts of knowledge. Being an american means having pride in who you are. I love being an American. (Tiphani)
  • Well being an American means many things. Like for example it means that you have more opportunities, freedom, and a better education and rights. For example i was born in south America Chile until i was 4 years old. When i was 4, my family decided to move to the U.S. to find a better future. My dad came 6 months before us to get settled in. Then we can by plane and i cant remember a lot since i was so young. I do remember how everything outside the window looked so tiny and beautiful. When we arrived to the U.S, everything looked and felt different. Like when i left Chile, it was winter time and when i got the U.S. it was summer. As months went by, things changed. Their were many laws and right here that in Chile u wouldn’t even hear about. Everything was different but way better than it was in South America.
    After i lived here for a year, a tragedy happened in New York. Four planes were taken over by terrorist. Many people died on this day since they crashed them into the towers and the pentagon. Many things happened after that but not as crazy. Living here is harder but yet easier than living in Chile. So we left everything in South America, Chile and my parents had a lot of bravery to start from scratch.
    Living in America takes bravery, honor, and responsibility. Many people thinks it easy to just live here but its not. Its hard because it involves hard work. Like you need to find jobs and be able to support yourself. Other things to think about is how are you going to live here without responsibilities. You need to keep America clean so that it becomes a better environment to live in. It is a true honor to live in America because we have a lot of freedom. In other places, you cant speak your mind because you could get in trouble. So Living in America, gives you a better and more efficient life style. (Alma)
  • To be an American has its privileges and its consequences and these are my reasons how i feel about living in America. I feel that Living in America has a purpose because we all need an education to accomplish our goals and dreams when we are much older. There is always a reason for living somewhere and when living in America its to become successful in life. We all have rights and freedom and thats what makes us choose our dreams and the goals that we would like to accomplish when we are older. America has a large variety of culture and fashion that makes us living in America very unique and original. Our country is very diverse and I feel like everyone comes to America to start a new life and maybe get an education. The united states gives the opportunity to help other from different countries to come and have a fresh start. I am proud to be living in America and to have the chance to make something good of myself and become successful as i can be. (Vans)
  • In my opinion, its a pleasure to be an American. I feel America has an advantage over so many countries in many ways. Many countries don’t have good education, good food and water supply, and some don’t have a stable government like America. Even though America has problem’s, we strive to come together as one to solve the problem we may face.
    One of the most important things about living in America is you have Great responsibility. You have to work to be able to maintain some type of property and be able to afford everyday life needs. Also, having a career in some type of field of work. And in order to achieve that goal, you have to attend school such as, High School, or College.
    Second, by living in America, most American show great Bravery and Determination. America has faced many problem’s such as Wars, Debt, recession, pollution, but as a country, we are trying to overcome most of the problem’s. Also, we are mostly caring for other countries in the world. If a Disaster had occurred somewhere, America would be one of the First to try and help that country in any way as possible. Such as earthquake in Haiti, tsunami in Japan.   (Jose)
 Wow, looks like this post is going to be #1 in the mashup series. It’s an impressive bulk of culture insights first-hand, isn’t it?..
If you are British or American and have something to say on it – please do! It’ll be much appreciated.
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Several Cool Things

…that happened to me today, on March 14th, and unexpectedly are coming out published  (re Mike Griffin’s challenge).

  • I woke up at 6 am second day in a row (a fantastic scenario this term for me) AND actually stayed very active all day. Fantastic, I tell you.
  • I started taking what I call my Spring Energy Pills (just vitamins) and instantly felt more energetic (the power of self-hypnosis!).
  • I enjoyed heavy spring snowfall.

photo

  • After a month’s break I resumed classes with an elementary student I’m teaching. I was happy and surprised to find her very motivated and willing. We both had a lot of healthy early morning English class giggles. This time our dogme lesson ended up with me teaching her how to say “Our IT assistant is slow” and “You will have a hangover after a lot of alcohol”. Emergent language, couldn’t help it.
  • I tidied up this blog and finally announced my blogomove with a post. This one.
  • I was amazed with the unlikely efficiency of our post service. No sarcasm, they were good today!
  • I finished reading The War of the Worlds. It’s a gripping read, a lot of food for thought + it’s clear that I should use certain parts of the book with my Physics students. One of the striking ideas: people might easily start hunting for other people when in danger or extreme difficulty. People are animals, and this is a horrible fact to face for me.
  • I checked the programme for iSTEK 2013 conference and felt those goosebumps. Istanbul in April!
  • Watched and discussed a short film Inseparable (starring Benedict Cumberbatch, THE Holmes) with a teen student. It dawned on me that short films are a treat to me as a teacher, so I’m planning to compile a list of those suitable for lessons, already have several in mind. I learnt about Inseparable from one of my university students this Monday during our regular Monday Video Report session.
  • I answered 5 questions in CIA test (Certified Internal Auditor) correctly, at sight, together with the auditor I’m teaching. I’m clearly gifted =)
  • I downloaded WordPress app for iPhone, used the Reader to find Carol Goodey’s Cool Things post, which hyperlinked me to the original post by Mike. I read it (again) on the bus and kept grinning while scrolling down the post and comments to it. Kept on grinning till I got home, in a wonderful mood. I think I like my WP experience so far=)
  • I followed Carol’s idea to introduce the Cool Things challenge to students and posted a message in our study group in Vkontakte (Russian Facebook). No idea if they will respond or not, but I’m positive)photo

I so much enjoyed thinking/writing this! It was not the most productive of days but certainly a very pleasant one.

I have to admit, though, that this is probably the only time when I publish two posts on one day))  You can’t expect me to abuse this blog.

Enjoy your Fridays and weekends!

This new is the old forgotten. Hello, WP + the 4th reason for blogging.

It was March 13th (just a coincidence as always) when I finalized the process. Migration Posterous -> WordPress done, with the exception of guest comments to my posts. I hope I’ll manage to sort this out some day soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to make myself at home here, or rather back home as I created this blog almost two years ago in my first shaky attempts to join the blogosphere no matter what writing no idea what.

I’m genuinely sorry this migration had to happen because I think I was one of the most faithful Posterous users. I like things neat and simple and that’s exactly why Posterous appealed to me in the first place.

Now surely this new space will be just fine for me. After the challenging Blogathon experience (you can read my blogathon posts here though I’m planning to re-post some of my favourites) I have a new spark of enthusiasm for blogging. I never know how long the flame will keep burning but there are certain reasons I try to keep in mind. I gave the three of them for Ken Wilson’s “Six bloggers you should be reading” post. Yet there’s one I held back.

I’m a non-native teacher of English living and working in my native Moscow. If you ask a foreigner who’s been here you’ll be surprised to hear how alien to English our environment is. We might have succeeded a bit in making it look we’re European, but you’re likely to struggle here without an English-speaking guide. Why am I telling you this? Not to discourage from visiting, of course, but to explain that being a teacher of English here you’ve got to expose yourself to English all the time in as many ways as you can find. Well, if you wish to teach more than just words and lines on pages of course books. I’ve heard stories how Russian teachers visited English-speaking countries and realized what they had been teaching (having previously been taught the same) all those years was not the real language. They could not communicate!

I want to speak the real language. I want to keep learning it following its development. I want to teach the living, breathing and changing English that I’m learning. And for that I find blogging a very suitable solution, as a non-native teacher of English living and working in my native Moscow.

So, hello, WordPress, let’s blog on=)

P.S. Posterous projects other than my personal blog also had to be moved somewhere. Here’s where they moved:

#ELTworkplaces is hopefully going to go on on Tumblr here 

MSU and Grenoble students’ blog has been kindly transferred to WordPress by Elizabeth Anne