Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Musical Tastes

Students in the Intermediate Listening/Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program recently shared their varied tastes in music! Below, each student tells about a favorite kind of music and why he or she enjoys it.

Mr. Ahmed Taleb Elemine of Mauritania

The lyrics are about real life, real experience.

Ms. Daniela Silva

I listen at the gym. Electronic music gives me energy!

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea

I appreciate the sweet and nice lyrics, the soothing music,
and the way the melody is so easy to hum.

Mr. Jérémie Ben Guigui of France

I listen while I do my homework or ride my bike.
Hard rock gives me power, energy.

Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia

This music relaxes me, energizes me, and gives me inspiration.

Ms. Maria Clara Vega of Colombia

This is a kind of Colombian pop music,
where the accordion and drums predominate.
The lyrics come from real life and are often dedicated to love.

Ms. Wan-Chien Lee of Taiwan

This is a kind of country music with rock 'n roll.
The piano and acoustic guitar predominate.
I  like to listen while cooking, biking, and exercising.

Ms. Zilda Benjo of Brazil

This music is great for relaxing.
It is soft and often has the sounds of water.
 I sometimes use it in my psychotherapy practice.

Ms. Rui-Wen "Zoe" Lu of China

The strong rhythm makes me want to dance.
It helps me to feel good quickly and keeps me young.
For example, if I listen while in a traffic jam, I start to feel good!

Thank you to the members of the  LIEP Intermediate Listening/Speaking class for sharing with us their tastes in music!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Visiting with Authors George Bishop and Donna Glee Williams

Students in the Advanced Reading class of the Loyola Intensive English Program  (LIEP) recently had the wonderful experience of visiting with the author of a novel they had read. At the beginning of the semester, the class read and discussed a short story or an essay by George Bishop and by Donna Glee Williams. Then each student chose either The Night of the Comet by George Bishop or The Braided Path by Donna Glee Williams to read during the semester. Both novels are about the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The students reading each novel met initially to decide upon  a reading schedule. They then continued to meet weekly to discuss the weekly chapters. Their final meeting was devoted to preparation for a visit with the author. On Thursday, November 13, each group met with their author to share impressions of the novel and to ask questions.

The Night of the Comet by George Bishop, set in 1973, is narrated by fourteen-year-old Alan Broussard, Jr., a book-loving boy whose father teaches science at the public high school in Terrebonne, a small town in the bayou country of southeast Louisiana. Junior, as he is called, feels embarrassment over his father's unsuccessful efforts to communicate his passion for science to his students, curiosity about the dissatisfaction he senses within his mother, puzzlement over his older sister's alienation, and yearning for the attractive and friendly Gabriela who has recently moved to Terrebonne and lives just across the bayou. Then, rumbling into the life of Terrebonne and the Broussard family comes Comet Kohoutek, shaking the town's complacency; enlivening Alan Broussard, Sr.'s science classes; upending the Broussards' routine family life; and forcing Junior, his sister Megan, his mother Lydia, and his father Alan to stretch and grow in unexpected ways.

The students who had read The Night of the Comet thoroughly enjoyed their visit with George Bishop. George Bishop told the students about the seed idea for his novel, his extensive research about comets, the perseverance required in writing a novel, and the ways he used his own life experiences in writing The Night of the Comet. Below, The Night of the Comet reading group is pictured with George Bishop.
Seated left to right: Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala, Mr. George Bishop, Ms. Maria Paula Posada of Nicaragua. Standing left to right: Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam, Mr. Hikaru Yokoyama of Japan, and Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam.

The Braided Path by Donna Glee Williams is a light fantasy that takes place in a vertical world, with one path along which are located many villages. One calls one's own village Home Village, while other villages are designated by their position above or below one's own, such as Second Village Up or Fifth Village Down. Becoming an adult involves finding one's upper and lower travel limits and choosing a profession based on one's natural gifts and passion, often involving the practice of a craft. Cam, a teenage boy, and Fox, a teenage girl, enjoy walking great distances from Home Village together and are developing a strong love for each other, but it is also apparent that Cam feels called to walk ever upward on the path, while Fox feels called to walk ever downward. Cam seems drawn to the profession of Far-Walker, while Fox remains unsure of her calling, though she does love to carve. Cam and Fox are torn between honoring their love and honoring their respective callings.

The students who had read The Braided Path greatly enjoyed their visit with Donna Glee Williams. Donna Glee Williams told the students about creating the world of The Braided Path, learning and practicing many of the crafts that appear in The Braided Path, finding meaningful symbols, and using elements of her own life experience to shape the story. Donna Glee Williams was especially impressed when the students shared insights that caused her to see her novel in new ways. Below, The Braided Path reading group is pictured with Donna Glee Williams.
Seated left to right: Ms Azusa Kurosawa of Japan, Dr. Donna Glee Williams, Mr. Ryota Kojima of Japan, Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland. Standing left to right: Mr. Haotian "Lee" Li of China, Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia.

A huge thank-you to George Bishop and to Donna Glee Williams for sharing the experience of writing their novels with the students, and to the students of the LIEP Advanced Reading class for sharing their impressions, insights, and questions about The Night of the Comet and The Braided Path with the authors!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Loyola Jazz Band Concert: A Review

Azusa Kurosawa of Japan
In this post, Ms. Azusa Kurosawa of Japan reviews a recent Loyola Jazz Band Concert.

Azusa is an exchange student from Sophia University, a Jesuit university in Japan, where she is majoring in Cultural Psychology. This semester, as an exchange student at Loyola University New Orleans, Azusa is in the Pilot Program of the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP), where she takes two credit-bearing courses in English skills as well as two courses in other fields at Loyola.

Azusa's love for jazz is evident in her review, below.

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The Loyola Jazz Band Concert
By Azusa Kurosawa

Since coming to New Orleans, I have been inspired by the wonderful music culture, especially Jazz. I had never been familiar with jazz in Japan, but here, a variety of music sounds come into my ears once I go outside, which always excites me. 

On Tuesday evening, November 11, the Loyola Jazz Band Concert was held at Roussel Hall of Loyola University New Orleans, and I attended it to see their performance. In the concert, the Loyola Jazz Band played 12 tunes, and each tune had its own characteristics: some were energetic with high tempo, some were peaceful ballad tastes, and some included a vocalist. Although the instruments were different from piece to piece, most tunes consisted of the piano, the bass, the drum, the trumpet, the saxophone and the trombone. All members of the Loyola Jazz Band played their own instruments confidently, and I received their strong passion that they really loved jazz.

My favorite tunes of the set were You Know I Care and Mr. Mayor. You Know I Care, composed by Duke Pearson, was slow, relaxing and also harmonic. This tune contained many saxophone solo parts, most of which were performed by one soloist, whose performance appeared to deserve a high quality. He never missed notes, his scaling was smooth, and his sound was deep and firm as well. The audience seemed to be attracted by the resonance and the lingering sound that the soloist created.

Unlike You Know I Care, Mr. Mayor by Matt Harris was a spirited and lively tune. In the very beginning of the piece, only a few instruments, including the drum, bass, and piano, were played. But shortly after, other instruments joined and the tune became energetic, the trumpeters gradually began to make their trumpets snarl, and a pianist began to perform the scale very fast. I would like to go into dancing, and this tune must have made other listeners excited as well.

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and historically, it was the ideal site for the birth of jazz because of its ethnic diversity. Many kinds of music, such as African American music, European music, and church music, were blended and formed the style of jazz that we can enjoy today. I feel very impressed when I imagine that many diverse historical people’s souls and passions are packed into today’s jazz music.

Thanks to the Loyola Jazz Band, the audience, including myself, spent a special evening. Loyola's College of Music and Fine Arts offers many opportunities for students, and of course all citizens, to listen to jazz as well as concert band, ensembles, and chorus. I strongly recommend that you join the concerts and listen to these amazing musical sounds!

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Thank you, Azusa Kurosawa of Japan, for sharing your love of jazz and this Loyola Jazz Band Concert review with us!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Travel Topics

The Intermediate Listening/Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) has completed a unit on travel. The class has explored travel plans, tips for packing, pet peeves in traveling, travel danger zones, ways to overcome fear of flying, and even proper etiquette at the beach! Class members also gave presentations on interesting aspects of travel, including important travel advice. We would like to share four of these presentations with you!

Ms. Zilda Benjo of Brazil spoke about traveling with her three children, ages 5 years, 3 years, and 6 months. She recalled one especially relaxing flight when friendly travelers offered to hold and play with her children. Knowing that this was a safe environment - since everyone was enclosed within the walls of the airplane high in the sky - Zilda told us that she was able to relax and enjoy the flight, certain that her children were having fun with fellow travelers nearby! Zilda's advice:

Let willing friendly travelers help with your children!
The travelers will enjoy the children, the children will enjoy the attention,
and you will enjoy the relaxation!

Ms. Daniela Silva of Brazil told us about a recent sad news account of a man who fell to his death from a mountain trail near Rio de Janeiro. People enjoy taking this mountain trail, Daniela told us, because they can see a beautiful aerial view of Rio. This particular man, however, was not being careful: he was jumping from stone to stone along the path with his friends. Daniela's advice:

Wear appropriate shoes when hiking in the mountains.
Do not hike on mountain trails at night.
Take a good map with you.
Hike in a group of several people.
Carry sufficient water to stay well hydrated.
Carry sufficient food to maintain energy.

Ms. Wan-Chien Lee of Taiwan spoke about the benefits of staying at a hostel, particularly when traveling alone. First, Wan-Chien told us, it is very easy to make friends at a hostel, especially since rooms are often shared with four or six other people. Second, hostel travelers readily share very helpful travel information. Third, it is easy to acquire useful second-hand equipment from travelers who no longer need their items. Fourth, the host family often eats and visits with the travelers and can share excellent information about the local area. Wan-Chien's advice:

Consider staying in a hostel, especially if you are traveling alone.
But don't be overly trusting:
Remember to lock your belongings in the provided locker.

Ms. Maria Clara Vega of Colombia encouraged us to visit her home-town of Cartagena on the northern coast of Colombia. Maria Clara described the tropical climate, the interesting port, and the delicious seafood of Cartagena. She told us that the old historic central part of Cartagena is surrounded by a wall, for protection in former times, with the larger modern city of Cartagena outside the wall. Maria Clara's advice:

If you travel to Colombia, be sure to visit Cartagena!
But be prepared - it's expensive!

A huge thank-you to Ms. Zilda Benjo of Brazil, Ms. Daniela Silva of Brazil, Ms. Wan-Chien Lee of Taiwan, and Ms. Maria Clara Vega of Colombia for their excellent travel presentations and advice!

Left to right: Ms. Zilda Benjo of Brazil, Ms. Daniela Silva of Brazil, Ms. Wan-Chien Lee of Taiwan, and Ms. Maria Clara Vega of Colombia

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Collage Self-Portrait: What is Beauty?

In the Advanced Listening & Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program, students discuss a different social issue or concept each week and conduct projects to creatively express ideas about these issues. Last week, we explored the concept of “beauty.” We discussed the different cultural expressions of beauty and the influence of the media on concepts of beauty. We looked at fashion and entertainment magazines to identify ways advertisers use “beauty” to compel consumers to buy their products. Then we “dissected” the media’s definition of beauty and discussed the truly “beautiful” qualities we see in the people around us.

After a brief lesson on collage art, students explored the “beauty” they value in themselves by creating collage self-portraits from images they found in magazines.

Our LIEP Academic Director, Ms. Jess Haley, explains the project to the class.

LIEP students work on their collages: In the foreground Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam (left) and Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam (right), and in the background Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil (left) and Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil (right).

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia (left) and Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala (right) work on their collages.

Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala proclaimed, “At 45, I’m a very unique person with many beautiful parts!” Her collage is very busy because her life is very full – of family, charity work, food, flowers, and nature. She even represented time in her collage because, she said, even though she and time are not friends, it is an important part of her life.

Collage created by Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia focused on family in the creation of his self-portrait. At the top of his image is the word mom. “She created me. She is me and all happiness I express is because of her.” Murtadha discussed his love of children, especially, of course, his daughter. “When you see your family, you see yourself.”

Collage created by Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia

Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam organized her collage components to resemble a face. The face is made of words and the image of a smile. “Even without a perfect face, with a smile, you will always be beautiful,” she said. Beauty, according to Sister Theresa, is trying to be the best self she can be right now.

Collage created by Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam 

Mr. Tom Almedia of Brazil made a very clever collage. "The main shape is my beard. I am known for it, but it also makes me think of something where secrets can be hidden and then brought out into the light." Tom explained that there is a lot going on in the beard--experiences, choices, travels, family--you can't identify just one thing because that's how identity is. Tom loves cocktails and food as well, but the other important component of his collage is the curved shape of words on the side--like an ear. "I'm becoming a better listener. It's a happy portrait because that's what I have in my life."

Collage created by Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil

Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam wanted to include two major aspects of her personality in her portrait – her life in Vietnam and her life in the United States. That’s why she created a face with two parts. She also surrounded herself with people. “My job and my mission are to go beyond myself. I like all the people.” She didn’t put a lot of elements in her image because, she said, we should try to express ourselves simply.

Collage created by Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam

Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland chose only a few very important elements of his identity to share on his collage. He chose foods that represent his dedication to health and family. The globe represents his passion for traveling as well as his admiration for his parents, who are both career travelers. The jacket represents his future in service and the special goals and commitment he has to that.

Collage created by Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland

Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil was very careful to create a human shape for her collage – she did this intentionally because she said, in Brazil there is too much emphasis on physical beauty. So, she added the words, “You are more than your shape,” and included the things that she feels make her beautiful – food, nature, and a baby to represent her daughter, who is “the biggest love in life.” At the base of the image, she added images of travel and study because “that gives you a cultural perspective and with that you can go anywhere in the world.”

Collage created by Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil

A huge thank-you to our LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class for sharing their collage self-portraits and concepts of beauty with us!

The LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class with their collages

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Learning about Love

The Intermediate Listening & Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program has just completed a unit on love. We have discussed ways of meeting a lifelong partner, benefits of marrying and of remaining single, advantages and disadvantages of marrying someone from a different culture or religion, and even the science behind the hormones associated with love.

Earlier this week, each student gave a presentation to the class on some aspect of love. Below are summaries of three very interesting presentations.

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea spoke about four signs that can help us know when we are in love. To know if we are in love with someone, Dong-Joo explained that we can ask ourselves these four questions.

  • Do I find myself speaking habitually about him or her?
  • Do I want him or her to be with me to share experiences?
  • Do I desire to give gifts to him or her?
  • Do I find myself waiting for him or her to call me on the telephone?

If the answer to these questions is yes, said Dong-Joo, then I am in love.

Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia spoke about the love of fans for their team or idol. Katya described fans' state of mind, as fans seek to wear clothes featuring their team or idol, to imitate their idol's appearance, and even to know their idol's biography better than their own life story! Katya distinguished between two kinds of fans.

  • Quiet fans meet to talk together about their idol.
  • Destructive fans may break objects and injure people to show their loyalty to a sports team.

Ms. Zoe Lu of China told the true story of the Australian kangaroo Lulu, who was found orphaned on the road and taken in by a human family. The human family loved Lulu, and Lulu loved her human family. One day, Lulu demonstated her love when a family member suffered a life-threatening injury. Lulu screamed to call the attention of others, and she used her legs to hold her injured loved one in a safe position. Zoe saw this true story as an illustration of the proverb: One good turn deserves another.

Thank you to Dong-Joo Lee of Korea, to Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia, and to Zoe Lu of China for excellent presentations on very different aspects of love!

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea, Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia, Ms. Zoe Lu of China

Friday, October 3, 2014

An Excursion to See the Play BROOMSTICK

On Friday evening, October 2, Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) student Azusa Kurosawa of Japan and LIEP instructor Karen Greenstone went to see the play BROOMSTICK by John Biguenet, who is also Chair of the English Department at Loyola University New Orleans. Two posts earlier, we wrote about Professor Biguenet's visit with our LIEP Advanced Reading class to discuss with us his short story "I Am Not a Jew" from his short story collection The Torturer's Apprentice. At that time, Professor Biguenet also told us a little about writing BROOMSTICK.

BROOMSTICK is a play about an old woman or witch who lives alone in a cabin in the woods. She tells us stories from her life - stories that are funny, wise, sad, insightful, powerful. At first the witch seems to be the personification of childhood fears, but soon she begins to talk about her earlier life - her feelings about her parents and their behavior, her first love, her experience of deep loss. The play is both lightly enjoyable and deeply moving. It helps us to ask ourselves questions about personal power, about perception and misunderstanding, about justice.

Azusa and Karen were very impressed with the witch's story, with the skilled acting of Liann Pattison who portrays the witch, with the realistic yet magical stage set depicting the interior of the witch's cabin in the woods, and with the ability of the playwright John Biguenet to capture the strength and the vulnerability of the witch in words.

BROOMSTICK is the first play in the 2014-2015 theatrical season of Southern Rep Theater in New Orleans. It is being performed at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center through November 2, 2014.

Azusa and Karen recommend BROOMSTICK to you! A huge thank-you to John Biguenet for writing this powerful and moving play, to Liann Pattison for her spell-binding acting, to Southern Rep Theater for producing the play, and to Ashé Cultural Arts Center for hosting it!

Asuza Kurosawa of Japan and LIEP Instructor Karen Greenstone