29 June 2009
(Huge thanks to Emmanuelle for the 'where she works' tip! Thanks.)
28 June 2009
I mean really, is there anything better than eating well on someone else's dime? Since I'm working this week I have a food allowance that gives me generous, if not extravagant, food options. And what better place for good food options than Paris?
Last evening a colleague and I ate at a nice bistro in the 1ere arronsissement near our hotel. I had the €29 menu: Salade 'Caesar' avec poulet, carpacio de saumon, bœuf grillé aux herbs, mousse au chocolate, et café. It was good enough that we'll probably go back tomorrow evening with some other colleagues.
Tonight I've just returned from a great Indian restaurant in the St. Germain. I told the waiter I wasn't French so make it spicey. It was spicey. Parts of my insides are still smoldering; you know, in the good way that means you're going to feel it later -- if you know what I mean.
26 June 2009
Look for me.
I'm watching the French news shows right and it's all Jackson all the time. I'm sure that is the case in virtually every country in the world this morning. I've also spent a few minutes this morning looking at clips like these.
Michael Jackson consistently made the best music video around and he almost single-handedly 'made' MTV. This was was always my favorite:
23 June 2009
I'll explain. McDonalds has contracted with French radio station NRJ (pronounced like 'energy') to provide music in their restaurants. The music (often annoyingly loud) is a mix of current pop hits from the US and Europe and I generally put on some earphones and try to get a few things done on the computer without focusing on the music in the background. But lately there have been some songs that have caused me to, shall we say, pay attention a bit more than I normally would.
Consider the song by English pop star Lily Allen. Allen has a popular hit right now called 'F**k You'. Now, as you might imagine, when this song is played in the UK or in the States it is cencored with an appropriately placed bleep. However, when the song plays in France -- and at McDonalds -- no such censorship takes place, meaning that the following lyrics are played (annoyingly loud, remember) for all to hear: 'F**k you. F**k you very much.' How am I going to explain that one to the kids as they are running around the play area?
I suppose I could tell them to focus on the catchy tune (because it really does have a catchy tune).
21 June 2009
Last night the small village where we are living temporarily held their concerts one night early so I took a trip down to the main center at about 10:30 to watch a couple of the acts. Turns out it must have been Jr. High Band Night because all the groups that played were comprised of 15-17 year-olds singing bad 90s songs in incomprehesible English. I was going to call the evening a wash after the 4th Greenday song until one of the groups broke out with 'Jet City Woman' by Queensryche. It didn't take long before my arms were pulsing in the air with my index and pinky fingers extended upward. I looked around for others doing that same thing. But it was just me so I stopped toute de suite. Nobody else seemed to know the song.
Anyway, tonight's the big night and we haven't decided where to go. Nice will be great, but packed. The same goes for Cannes and Antibes. We my try a smaller village that's a bit easier to get to. We'll see.
19 June 2009
Read this post from an Iranian blogger about tomorrow's (Saturday's) planned protest march. Keep in mind that the government has forbidden it and warned of consequences. Meanwhile, those seeking freedom and justice in Iran do not seem deterred:
This is what courage looks like and this, as history tells us, is what Revolutions look like.
“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”
18 June 2009
15 June 2009
It's far to early to make any judgements about the events of the past 72 hours, but it has the potential to completely transform Middle-East politics. The level of resistance of those supporting Mousavi is, in a word, inspiring. Will we remember June 2009 as the beginning of the Green Revolution in Iran or as just another crushed democratic movement in a politically oppressed country? We'll see.
14 June 2009
The performance is all in French and it was often a bit too fast for us to understand. See if you can do better? The kids tell me their best laugh lines came when they swore in French. Gotta love French children's theatre, I guess. (Note: it may take a while to upload so check back).
10 June 2009
(Note: there are 2 essay questions and two document-based questions (DBQ) to choose from. The DBQ questions include 3-4 questions based on some attached documents and a 'mini' essay. Most students wrote 6-8 pages for each question).
1) Essay Question: Discuss America's involvement in Vietnam. How and why did the U.S. become involved, and what were the consequences?
2) DBQ Topic: The Weakening of Europe after the Second World War.
Part 1: a) According to document 1, what are the short and long-term demographic consequences of the Second World War?
b) According to document 1, in what way was the economic and commercial potential of Europe almost destroyed.
c) What is the illustrator of the satirical magazine "PUNCH" trying to show in document 3?
d) Immediately following the war, what happened ot the European continent, politically speaking? (document 4)
Part II: Using your responses to the questions, information contained in the documents and your own knowledge, write an organized response to this subject: The weakening of Europe after the Second World War
1) Essay Question: 'Dominating North' and 'Dominated South': are these concepts still valid today?
2) DBQ Topic: The USA as a superpower.
a) Describe the structure of foreign investment in the United States. What are the factors that attract investment towards the United States?
b) Based on document 1 and document 4, to what extent can we say that the American regional integration process increases Foreigh Direct Investment in the United States?
c) What is the political basis of the recent antiamericanism mentioned in document 2? To what extent can we see this as a limit to U.S. power?
d) Why, according to document 5, is the American cultural model successful in China?
Part II: Drawing on the attached documents, your answers to the above questions and your own knowledge, write an organized synthesis to discuss the following assertion: The United States: a limited superpower.'
There you have it. Unlike last year, most of my students were very happy with this exam. Based on my conversations with them after the exam, many chose to answer the Vietnam essay and the U.S. Power DBQ question (the US Power questions were pretty intense!) I hope they nailed it.
This test, in a wierd sort of way, helps explain why I like teaching this program. This is fun stuff, no?
09 June 2009
The real work begins next week when they sit for their exams in all their other classes. By the end they will have taken up to 30+ hours of written exams and up to 2+ hours of orals. All in a 10 day period.
What is your high school senior doing this week?
Of course, I'm as eager as my students to see what questions will be asked on the History exam. I'll find out tomorrow and will probably put them up on the blog.
08 June 2009
In yesterday's European Parliament elections far-left parties took a beating -- particularly in France where President Sarkosy's UMP party trounced the Socialist Party candidates. A round-up can be found here. Don't miss the bit about how bad Gordon Brown's Labour Party fared.
There's also some potentially good news coming out of the national elections in Lebanon.
Really, I'm starting to like this.
07 June 2009
Mommy, Happy Mother's Day. Thanks for always helping me clean my room, doing my dishes, and making great lunches for me everyday. I love you very much and you are the best mom ever. --PATRICK
Happy Mother's Day mommy. Thank you for all you've done for us. Thank you for making lots of our food for us and helping us whenever we need it, even when I'm in a bad mood. But I'm not actually in a bad mood for very long, but still. I love you mamma. -- JULIA
Mama -- Thank you for Mother's Day. Thank you for nothing. I don't know what to say. Cleaning up. And playing with me. I don't want to do anymore. I love you. -- HENRY (age 4)
Those are direct quotes, as you might be able to tell.
The recital was organized by the music school in the village and featured all the students studying violin and guitar. I'm going to put up video shortly (mainly so the grandparents can watch) because the setting of this particular recital was incredible: the old dining hall of a 13th century chateau. The acoustics were magnificent and the arched ceiling was quite beautiful. When I was a kid I used to give recitals in a school gym! Patrick played two pieces, includng a beautiful duet with his teacher.
Tonight we are right back to Le Bar-sur-Loup because Patrick and Julia are in a play being put on by their theatre group. They have been rehearsing lines like crazy all week. (Yes, they've had months to learn them, but in good fashion they have waited until the pressure is on). We'll try to get video of tonight as well.
Late Update: Here's the video.
05 June 2009
This evening we decided to sit down with the computer )and a project capable of beaming an image onto a huge wall) and watch the film. The photography and cinematography is unreal, even surpasing Planet Earth at times. There are moments when the film is a bit preachy, but the general tenor is provacative and thought provoking -- and don't forget visually stunning. The film is called 'Home' and it takes a look at how humanity uses, reuses, misuses, and regenerates the various resources our planet offers. There are parts that are absolutely riveting.
We stopped after about 1 hour because it was getting late, but we'll finish it tomorrow. It was just a notch or two over the head of our kids -- but there's plenty of time in the film to explain things. We watched the film in HD via YouTube, but you can also watch it directly through the film's website..
04 June 2009
I needed a political fix. It was either this or a breakdown of today's voting in the European Parliament elections. It was an easy choice.
Not that I'm taking up running, but if I did, what side of the road should I run on?
I did download the official opening and put it on our silly video, but is this for real?
02 June 2009
Katie is a 1ere student (think Junior) from Ireland and many of her extended family and friends have flown down to be with her family. There will be a Mass for her in Sophia Antipolis on Thursday.
Obviously, this is very, very sad news for all of us at the Centre International de Valbonne, particularly those of us who had the pleasure of teaching her. She was a bright, thoughtful, and utterly delightful girl.
An extra prayer will go up tonight for her family and her friends. 17 is just too young.
Late Update: There was a memorial service this afternoon at a Catholic church in Sophia. Many of the students wore green to school today and then walked in mass over to the church. A colleague and I participated by playing Raglin Road and Danny Boy (violin & flute). The service was upbeat and positive -- as they often are in these kinds of situations. A very nice afternoon, all things considered.
I wish Kerri could have taken it because she would have done better than me.
Plus, last night I watched 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' with some friends (Nathan and Crystal) who are staying with us and we had the French sub-titles on, so that's like two hours of studying right there.